Dance has been a big part of countless cultures since the beginning of time and is well known to improve physical health. But what isn’t so well known is its benefits for our mental health. Whether it is salsa, hip-hop or even just some loose freestyle movements, the mental benefits of dancing are all the same.
Here are just 5 of the many ways dancing improves mental health:
When you dance, your brain releases chemicals such as endorphins, which naturally reduces pain and stress. Dancing can also provide an escape from any negative circling thoughts you may have, as you are forced to be present in the moment and focus on the task at hand. This is an active way of coping with emotions such as stress, benefitting your mental health as you aren’t avoiding nor giving in to them. You may also find that dancing expands your imagination and emotional awareness, helping you solve problems you may be facing personally as your mind develops new ways of thinking.
Fosters Connection and Trust.
This could be either with yourself, others, or both! Social interaction is crucial for your mental well-being, making you feel a sense of belonging and easing loneliness. With dance, you get to meet new people in class, broadening your social circle, and are more confident outside of class as you are more familiar with connecting to strangers. This helps eliminate social anxiety, bettering all aspects of your life.
Showing yourself your dedication and mastering new skills through dance can improve your confidence and self-worth. You might find you respect yourself more and increase your discipline by committing to classes and continuing to refine your skills. Dance can also help you express yourself, and dance classes are great environments where everyone builds each other up and supports each other!
Improves Sleep Quality.
Dance is a form of exercise which helps you feel more rested as you exert yourself in different ways, helping you relax better after a long day. This physical exertion reduces sleep onset, which is the time it takes you to fall asleep, and can decrease periods of restlessness throughout the night.
Increases Energy Levels.
Obviously, better sleep means better energy, but exercise also furthers energy levels due to an increase in oxygen and nutrients in your tissues, triggered by dancing. This helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently beyond the time of excess movement, sustaining an increase in your energy levels throughout the day and giving you more energy to do other things. Consistent dancing also improves your overall heart and lung health, steadily increasing your energy levels over time without the trigger of a one-off dance class.
Because of all these factors, your overall mood improves from dancing, making your, and those around you, lives better. But we get that it may be a bit intimidating to start, so here are some tips on using dance to improve your mental well-being:
Take in-person dance classes.
You can find local classes by Googling ‘dance classes near me’ (be sure to have your location on) or finding online community groups through Facebook or other platforms to read advice and personal reviews on studios near you. If you’re in Auckland, we recommend trying our Free Intro Class to have a taste of the benefits of dancing without any commitment.
Take an online dance class.
Whilst dancing improves social skills, we know it is not always feasible for everyone's lifestyle. To combat this and ensure you’re still getting some of the mental health benefits of dancing, we recommend utilising the internet and platforms such as YouTube for free, easily accessible dance tutorials. This allows you to easily tailor your dancing experience to cater towards your ability, time available, or specific goals. For example, you could watch this to learn a range of techniques, or this for a more targeted workout, or try out a wheelchair friendly dance routine because dance has mental benefits for everyone.
Dance with yourself.
You could also skip the routines altogether and just let yourself move to one of your favourite songs. Find or make an open space in a place where you feel comfortable, turn on the music and let yourself go. Don’t worry about how you look because no one is there to see it!
With any way you choose to dance, remember not to be overly critical. You only need to dance because it feels good, don’t worry about making a mistake or others being better than you. The best way to get the benefits of dancing is by having fun!