We are not all good at it, nor need to be. The mental & physical benefits are immense.
BY Anna Alford: Arts Columnist
Pre-pandemic, pubs and clubs were bustling pretty much every day of the week, with people itching to dust off their dancing shoes.
On the dance floor you can be surrounded by crowds of strangers, but your inhibitions are absent, usually helped along by the consumption of a few drinks. It is a place without self-consciousness or shame, with one unspoken rule: you can go crazy, and nobody will care.
Unfortunately, dancing, or having any kind of fun for that matter, is frowned upon right now. The world is still and the only place suitable for a disco is your bedroom, albeit a very lonely one.
Ironically, now is the time we would benefit most from getting down on the dance floor; with social bonding the biggest gain from the activity. Dancing in synchrony with another person to the beat of a song forms a powerful connection and can act to boost feel-good chemicals and lower the stress hormone cortisol.
Many people consider cutting a few shapes on the weekend to be an important emotional outlet after a long working week. Whether you are happy, sad or angry, moving your body is a mightily cathartic experience. It’s about letting go.
As well as social connections, dancing forms important neural connections in our brain, greatly reducing our risk of disease. Busting a move has even shown to reduce the risk of dementia by 76 percent, more so than reading, playing a musical instrument or completing regular crossword puzzles.
The sheer growth of implementation of dance therapy as an alternative treatment for emotional issues comes at no surprise.
Alongside many other studies proven to show how dance can positively impact a person’s mental and physical health, a 2013 trial found that psychotherapeutic application of dance acted to improve overall mental health in adolescent girls for up to a year after intervention. They found a betterment in internalising problems, such as a depressed mood, low self-esteem and psychosomatic symptoms like fatigue, all of which greatly affect many school-aged individuals.
Dance therapy differs from other forms of rehabilitative treatments because it allows holistic creative expression, remedying both the mind and the body. It promotes self-awareness and realisation of one’s own body via a meditative process of movement and motion. When the world is uncertain, it seems we could all benefit from a little boogie. Confinement to our homes is no excuse either. Try grooving your way from your sofa to your fridge, and back again. Moonwalk around your desk. Vogue in the shower. You could even try electric sliding your way to your local supermarket. Remind yourself what endorphins feel like (remember those?) and keep your fingers crossed that we’ll be back on the real dance floor before we know it.
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