When you hear your favorite jam on the radio, do you also do a little dance? It doesn’t matter where you are, may it be a public or private space. When you hear a catchy beat, you’d surely find yourself moving along with it. You may even find your body swaying side to side or your arms doing awkward movements.
But don’t worry about your awkward dance because every single human does this, too. We all move around to a beat we like in hopes of lightening the mood or lifting the spirit.
While many people only dance during special occasions, some consider it a way of life. Dancing helps strengthen bones and muscles, from legs to core and arms. Additionally, dance can also help improve breathing, stability, flexibility, and even body coordination.
Given all these benefits, it’s no wonder how dance has become one of the most enjoyed physical activities in existence. These are just some of the dances people seek for health benefits:
- Belly dancing
- Pole dancing
Besides, dance also helps people improve the social aspect of their lives. When you dance with a partner, you learn to trust they won’t let you fall. On the other hand, dancing with other people means moving with the same rhythm and beat. Here are just some of the social dances to learn about:
- Ballroom dancing
- Square dancing
- Line dancing
But did you know that dancing is also beneficial to your mental health? Studies have been investigating the effects of dance on people with chronic diseases and sedentary lifestyles. One comprehensive study has significantly impacted most patients’ cognitive, behavioral, and mental health.
Among the new holistic advancements in mental health is dance/movement therapy (DMT). While this therapy involves dance, it doesn’t necessarily pertain to traditional and popular dances.
So, if you’re curious about what this therapy is and what it can do for you, you’ve come to the right place. Here are the answers to frequently asked questions about dance therapy and its benefits.
How is dance therapy different from a regular form of dancing?
The regular form of dancing is considered a physical activity that allows a whole-body workout that is entirely engaging and fun. It provides health benefits for the heart; it makes the bones and muscles stronger and helps coordinate and balance.
Dance therapy, on the other hand, focuses on using movements to process behavioral or emotional health. Yes, dance therapy and regular dance help develop confidence, self-esteem, and awareness, but the latter is designed to cater to vastly different mental health issues.
Does dance make you happy?
The body releases endorphins into the bloodstream when dancing. It is a brain chemical component that triggers positive energy and good vibes. The release of these endorphins also improves spatial awareness, raises the heart rate, conditions the body’s bones and muscles, and causes a relaxation sensation.
Dancing helps improve the emotional state and reduce pain perception, which develops a higher level of happiness. In general, dancing improves mood and can reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. Dancing provides a boost in mental, physical, and emotional aspects because it makes you feel alive.
Why do humans like to dance?
People love to dance because it is a physical activity that is fun and engaging. It does not have to be precise or complicated as long as one enjoys doing it. Dancing always plays a significant part in a healthy lifestyle because it provides a lot of benefits. It increases stamina, relieves stress, and helps with weight loss and weight gain. It also provides balance and coordination.
Dancing also provides great benefits for mental and emotional health as it helps reduce stress and anxiety levels. Dancing is also a way for people to bond and communicate and often the best way to express feelings that can’t be said and done.
Can dancing help with anxiety?
Like any other exercises and body workouts, dancing benefits are no different from the rest of any physical activities. It still releases the neurotransmitter endorphins, or most commonly known as happy hormones. These hormones serve to reduce stress as it calms the mind and body. It gives people a sense of motivation and optimism.
Dancing allows people to go beyond their fears, worries, expectations, and doubts. Dancing helps them to discover new things and become the best version of themselves.
How does dance therapy help mentally?
Dancing strengthens the physical aspects by improving posture, preventing falls, and encouraging the body’s flexibility.
But the best part of dancing is not limited to the physical benefits only because it provides a wide variety of mental and emotional health advantages. It lifts mood, eases anxiety, helps regulate emotions, stabilizes thoughts, and often treats anxiety, stress, and depression symptoms.
Dancing can communicate with conscious and unconscious feelings and allow a release of tension through movement expression.
How does dance affect the mind?
Studies show that dance increases levels of the feel-good hormone serotonin to help reduce stress. It also helps strengthen distinct neural connections, especially in brain areas concerned with long-term memory, decision-making function, problem-solving, memory, and spatial recognition.
Dancing boosts the brain’s development by removing unwanted stressors that keep the brain functioning at full potential. It is an engaging and enjoyable activity that increases aerobic power, sharpens the mind, builds social bonds, and reduces stiffness and body pain.
Is dancing enough exercise?
Dancing is a whole-body activity that helps you unwind and have fun. It’s good for your heart as it helps with blood circulation. Dancing makes you stronger as it strengthens the bones and muscles and enhances endurance levels. It helps with balance and coordination, too, as it improves flexibility and agility. It also helps burn fat and calories, which makes it the most engaging method for weight loss.
A 15 to 30-minute dancing can go a long way because of increased physical fitness and gross motor skills development, encourages creativity and imagination, and improved confidence and self-esteem.
Why is dance fun?
Dancing, or moving to the music beat, is fun because it encourages and increases social bonding with other individuals. It allows people to communicate with the use of the physical rhythmic connection and expression. Dancing provides mental, emotional, and physical refreshment, relaxation, and entertainment.
Dancing is a form of exercise that does not require any complicated routines as long as you feel comfortable working with your body. Dancing promotes self-awareness and confidence that is useful in maintaining well-balanced overall health.
Why is dance so important?
Dancing is significantly important in a person’s life because it helps people of all ages stay mentally, emotionally, and physically in shape. Dancing has a wide range of benefits, including improved lungs and heart, increased bone and muscular strength, improved endurance and motor fitness, and developed flexibility and balance.
Dancing provides full cognitive development, as it allows creativity and imagination to takes place. It provides the mind and body a boost as it relieves stress, anxiety, pain, and other health problems.
How does watching dance make you feel?
Watching dance can stimulate memories in the brain as it mentally processes patterns of movement and coordination with each step you see. That is because both the muscles and brain respond to watching someone or people dance.
This feeling is largely related to empathy with others. That explains why, when others exhibit happiness and joy, people tend to feel the same way. When they see others enjoying what they do, it also makes them happy and a bit excited.
Does dancing improve mood?
Yes. Dancing can be a form of therapy because it improves mood, regulates emotions, and reduces anxiety and depression symptoms. It releases many feel-good hormones called endorphins into the bloodstream, which allows you to feel happy and optimistic.
Dancing helps in modifying your emotional state as it encourages you to focus on other things rather than your worries and fears. Every step your body is making allows you to become more balanced and well-coordinated with flexibility and endurance.
How does your mind feel after dancing?
The mind works differently after 15 to 30 minutes of dance movements. Studies show that reduced stress and increased feel-good hormone serotonin are associated with continued jiving with patented movements. There is a development of new neural connections that prevent stress, anxiety, or depressive states.
Back then, dance was just an activity to bring people together and a sport to strengthen the physique. But now, dance has become one of the most holistic creations humans use to achieve overall health and wellness.
It can help reduce stress, improve mood, and express pent-up emotions. With all its benefits, dancing has become more than just a physical and social activity.
DMT and dance may be similar in some ways, like building confidence and self-esteem. However, DMT differs by targeting specific mental health issues such as:
- Eating disorders
- Stress (PTSD)
DMT also has a warm-up, assessments, observation, and verbal assessment phases. So, don’t worry too much if you were born with two left feet. You can still achieve positive results as long as you commit to the process.
While DMT may be an exciting way to manage your mental health, you also have to stay cautious. There are many requirements to becoming a dance therapist. So, beware of people claiming they are dance therapists. They may brand themselves as DMT practitioners and charge you expensive rates. However, they may only be offering regular dance classes in reality, which you get for lower prices elsewhere.
The best way to rule out fake dance therapists is by looking at their credentials. Your potential therapist should have an R-DMT (Registered Dance Movement Therapist) designation. If not, they should have at least a Master’s degree in Dance/Movement Therapy. You should ask them about their experience and approach to dance therapy, too.
You can find dance therapists online. If you still have trouble finding a therapist, you can try these institutions as they usually have dance therapists:
- Counseling centers
- Drug treatment centers
- Health and wellness care clinics
- Nursing homes
- Rehabilitation centers
With this new knowledge about dance therapy, you’ll surely have more options to feeling better mentally, physically, and socially. Healing can be a long and tiring process if you aren’t enjoying what you do. But with dance therapy, you’ll learn how to enjoy and dance your way to a better life ahead.