What are millions of fulfilled, happy, and healing people around the world calling the “biggest and cheapest therapy”? What practice has been clinically proven to improve quality of life and relieve anxiety?
The same thing that’s been used for thousands of years to heal mind and body...
That's it, Tom.
Yes, Peggy. It's dance!
Why is dancing so powerful? (And what happens if I can’t dance?)
This awesome video will make you want to dance (and no, it's not the MV for Stayin' Alive):
Thanks to Rafael Casal at Upworthy for highlighting this great video.
Highlights from the video: “Share my joy with other people”
Dancing is almost always social. But unlike having coffee with a friend or going to a party, dancing is about sharing a physical connection -- a smile, a laugh, touch.
"Dance brings me close to my friends," one dancer in the above video said. “It’s a really liberating experience. It’s almost like you’re speaking without words.”
Of course, one of the clearest findings in research into happiness is that social connection is crucial.
“Everybody’s a dancer”
As a kid, when your parents put music on, you moved. You didn’t just tap your foot -- you moved your whole body, bopping up and down, fist pumping, awkward jumping, without any fear about what other people thought about what you were doing. And you were adorable.
There is no such thing as a person who “can’t dance.” What you really mean is, “Because I can’t dance as well as other people and I’m afraid of looking stupid, I won’t dance.”
To make it easier for you, sign up for a random beginner’s dance class you don’t know anyone. It’s much harder to feel embarrassed in a crowded class of strangers!
If you make a mistake, who cares?
Leave behind the world of work & stress & worry
"You'll leave behind the work of world and trauma...and for a while you're free and light and laughter and joy and bliss -- all the words that we don't get in our culture often enough."
When you focus on your body and on movement, your mind can’t obsess over all the things that your mind usually obsesses about. Movement also releases physical tension caused from work-related stress (and over-sitting), releases endorphins in a way that’s substantially funner than going on a treadmill.
Most dance is about celebrating life and the body. Just connecting to the body mindfully (“body consciousness”) releases stress and improves body self-esteem. Making beautiful/graceful movements (or trying to make them!) also makes you realize how awesome and perfectly designed the human body really is. This makes you feel happier and fulfilled.
Don't think Yoda is self-conscious about being short and green, do you?
As one of the dancers in the video said: "For the longest time I wasn't very confident with my body. But over time I gained a lot of confidence through dance.”
And by the way, experts say dance can even treat more serious mental illnesses
In recent years, numerous studies have finally proven the connection between dance and emotional well-being, and is being used across the world to heal anxiety disorders, clinical depression, severe stress, and ADHD.
This study from a University in Spain showed that there were significant quality of life improvements (which includes physical, psychological, spiritual measures, levels of independence and social relations) among those who took even just 10 weeks of Dance/Movement Therapy classes.
Dance has even been shown to reduce sexual dysfunction and improve QOL in breast-cancer patients.
Want to start dancing?
- Look for a free or inexpensive dance Meet-up in your area.
- Want to try ballroom? There are Fred Astaire dance studios across the country.
- Or, if you want to feel better about how awkward of a dancer you are, watch this and then close all the doors, put on your favorite song or and awkward dance alone. Soon you’ll be wanting to show off your moves!
This article is part of our Mind and Body Wellness for Freelancers series. We speak about wellness issues because, as our Founder Sara Horowitz once put it, “You work with coal miners and you learn everything there is about black lung. You work with freelancers and you learn about depression.”