The world marks International Dance Day this week with dancers across the globe celebrating their passion for the art.
Whilst many forms of dancing are known to be great ways to stay physically healthy, the conversation this year has turned to how it can also help mental health too.
According to MindWise, dancing can both boost mood and contribute to the forming of new healthy habits. It has social benefits too, such as providing an opportunity to connect to others, which is positive for self esteem and improvement in mood.
Psychotherapist Terry Hyde, a trained ballet dancer and musical theatre performer who has worked with stars such as Barbara Streisand and Michael Crawford, explains how trying several new types of dance can be beneficial.
He said: “I’ve been suggesting to my therapy clients if you already do ballet, why not try something different? No one’s going to see you. Try some tap, try some contemporary, try some musical theatre, try some singing lessons! All of these things are online free at the moment, try something different and that will take a bit of the anxiety away. It all boils down to identity…”
Although lockdowns have made it difficult for dancers to resume their usual activities, many dance companies are still offering online classes as well as online tutorials, where viewers can follow along at their own pace.
Whilst it is suggested that anyone suffering from mental health worries still sees a trained therapist, Hyde suggests that dancing can be an aid in your recovery. Sasha Bonewell, a graduate in dance at Buckinghamshire New University, says that dance has been a great escape for her in times when she felt low.
She said: “Dancing is really enjoyable, and it can be good for your mental health. First of all, it’s exercise so it releases a lot of endorphins, and it can make you feel really positive about yourself when you finally manage to get something right. The long days can be quite tiring, but you know how rewarding it is at the end and it really helps your self-esteem grow.”
Whether you celebrate international dance day or not, remember that any movement or exercise is great for your mental health and emotional wellbeing.