Dance may be best known for the fun, fitness and feel good it brings to our lives, but who knew it could also prove a useful tool in helping the increasing numbers of us affected by anxiety, to better manage our symptoms?
The question of how to access a more peaceful state of mind has been widely researched by psychologists and therapists, and dance, it seems, could be a positive response to this challenge. Two of these researchers were Leste and Rust (1990/1984), who found that a modern-dance class was more effective than exercise or music classes in reducing anxiety.
Given the interconnection between mind and body, these findings are not surprising.
And as for the mechanisms for the effect, these are as follows:
1️⃣By focusing on our body, breathing and expressive movements, the mind is distracted from its stressors.
2️⃣Putting our bodies in motion makes the brain segregate serotonin, the happy hormone which can help reduce anxious feelings.
3️⃣The movement itself can alleviate the physical tension related to a negative state of mind.
4️⃣As a form of creative expression, dance allows people to exteriorize their emotions without the usual challenge of having to find words.
5️⃣Dancing helps the brain create new thought paths and neural circuits, according to a study carried out by Peter Lovatt.
In terms of how to put this into practice, you could try the initial small step of practicing some freestyle or guided routines within the comfort of your own home. Alternatively, why not embrace the increasingly popular dance holiday option, such as the Let’s Salsa retreat ran by Lou Casteou in the beautiful French Cote d’Azur countryside? Minutes from the sea, this 4 day luxurious dance retreat provides the perfect balance of focussed dance classes, combined with other activities such as water aerobics, coastal treks and a visit to a Provencal vineyard.
For more details visit their website.
‘Forget your troubles and dance”- Bob Marley
Photo credit: Lisa Vogler
Post sponsored by Lou Casteou