Dance makes me feel good! The combination of music and movement is freeing. Add a little sweat to the mix and I know burning calories is also part of the equation. Taking this to the gym or incorporating this into my daily workout results in a fitness format I look forward to.
But what’s so special about dance? Is it just the endorphins or is there more?
Actually, dance has psychological benefits that stem from physiology and the results are profound. A lot of the benefits happen from the connections formed through expressive movements, aka dancing. It connects us to our bodies, minds and the community around us, which all bring their own special benefits.
THE MIND-BODY CONNECTION
The first benefit is chemical, and no, not just from the tequila! Dancing releases dopamine and serotonin, essentially happy chemicals, making us feel upbeat and less stressed. Lack of these hormones can lead to depression. Dopamine is a major force in overall motivation and the motivation for movement-meaning an increase in dopamine caused by dance may make you want to dance more. Have you ever felt like you NEED to dance, it may even feel like an addiction? Blame the dopamine!! Dance also causes an increase in oxytocin, which is, yes, important during labor and delivery, but that’s not the real benefit here. Oxytocin is the ‘connection’ hormone, it helps us bond intimately and socially. Hmmm, this is starting to make sense!
That’s not all dancing does for the physical body though. Dancing helps us connect to our bodies by increasing confidence. By moving, we discover parts of our bodies that we may not have realized before, or actively chose to forget. Have you ever looked in the mirror and said “Wow, I didn’t know my hips moved like that!” (if not, you should try)? These moments lead to us moving more and becoming more confident. This confidence in our bodies transfers to other areas of life as well. Improved posture and the way you present yourself will become evident to everyone you encounter.
On top of connecting to your physical body, dancing connects us to our minds as well. At its’ core, dance is a form of expression, providing a platform to move and feel. You may have noticed yourself following choreography and throwing in a hair toss or making different faces in the mirror. As embarrassing as this may be to the little people in your life, you may even find yourself shaking your hips to a song in the grocery store or swaying in a chair to some music while working. All humans yearn for expression and we experience a release of emotions during dance. We can let go of the negatives holding us back and simply embrace who we are. Dancing can make us more in tune with our emotions. When we learn to express ourselves in such an artistic way, we can better learn to take care of our mental health.
Being connected to ourselves is incredibly important, yet another major component of dance fitness is the connection to the community formed. The beautiful thing about dance is how it focuses on self expression and self love, something so personal yet shared. When we dance, those around us, whether virtual or in the same room are experiencing that as well!
This community builds each other up and goes on this journey of self discovery together. It’s powerful. You are not alone and recognizing that brings a special bond between you and the people you are dancing with. This connection brings about feelings of support, friendship and love which increases confidence as we get built up from those around us.
So, step on the dance floor, even if that’s simply your living room floor, and break it down! Let go of your stress and anxiety. Let the anger flow out of you as you listen to music and listen to what your body wants to express. The way dance helps us mentally is incredible, all we have to do is embrace it in every way. Go form connections – with your mind, body, and community.