International Dance Day 2020: The importance of dance during these times
As I write this, Lykke Li sings in my background “Having troubles telling how I feel, But I can dance, dance, dance! Couldn’t possibly tell you how I mean, But I can dance, dance, dance.”
Her lyrics remind me of what my client told me earlier during the day during our online counselling session “The only thing that’s stayed with me through years of physical abuse and trauma is how good I feel when I dance. I don’t need to recall my painful experiences for anyone and just move freely. I make time for dance.”
On International Dance Day, I want you all to also consider making time for dance. Having been in our houses for more than 30 days, many of us may have started to experience a sensory deprivation of sorts. Such emotional and sensory deprivation can bring about changes that make us miss social transactions more and more.
Dancing is a dynamic form of conversation you have with yourself and another person. You engage your sense of hearing, seeing, touch, feeling, hand-eye coordination and so much more! This helps activate many important brain centres and body parts resulting in sharper memory and information retention, enhanced mood, improved metabolism and a healthy digestive tract.
The benefits are numerous. Anubhav Nanda, a dance choreographer and a commercial actor with educational background in psychology, espouses dance as an essential activity that helps us to be active and fit both mentally and physically. In his view, “A healthy mind is very important to sustain life. People might already be facing issues with their mental stability which would be resulting in elevated anger, irritation, anxiety, panic, obsessions and compulsive behaviour (due to washing hands and santising everything again and again), depression, insomnia, mood swings etc. If the mind isn’t fit, it will affect the body and one’s behaviour negatively. This in-turn leads to fights and miscommunications with family and friends. At this hour, it’s very important for us to be fit both mentally and physically and dance is a great booster for our immunity.”
Anubhav says. “I have asked people who have sought help from me to incorporate dance in their daily lifestyle even if it is for only 20-30 mins. It’s not necessary that you should be a dancer to dance. No! Anyone can dance. If you sway to your favourite tunes and include a few exercises with it, your dance and fitness both is covered.”
“So many people have felt measurable positive difference after our sessions and are always keen on joining my advanced dance workshops. But since we are in a lockdown, I recommend that people not lose hope and their enthusiasm for dancing. You can still join different online classes or just begin by copying dance moves from your favourite dance songs.”
Anubhav does not want anyone to feel left out, “3 or 83, there is no age to dance, so tune in to your favourite songs and start dancing for a happier, fitter and active mind and body.”
I agree with Abhinav and know how important it is for you to feel you are socially interacting with others when you dance, so you can shirk away this feeling of social isolation. There are various online dance classes and free webinars you can be part of to start off with. If you’re still undecided about changing into your loose clothes and joining others in a dancing session online, here are some benefits of dancing that may help you take the leap:
1. Mood enhancement
Dancing helps to uplift and rejuvenate your mood. When dancing, you can choose your favourite song and reconnect with your positive emotions better. It also kills boredom.
2. Improves Mental Health
Dance helps to reduce anxiety and panic. Dancing helps in fighting low moods and depression by inducing the brain to release mood-lifting neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine. Dancing helps releases endorphins (brain chemicals that promote satisfaction, euphoria, and builds tolerance).
3. Weight Loss
Dancing is a great activity to lose weight naturally and helps boosts metabolic rate.
4. Sharper Brain
Dancing makes your brain more active, improves concentration and helps you focus longer on studies or work. When you dance, proteins are produced within brain cells that spur the growth of new neurons and new cell connections, literally making minds more supple.
5. Rejuvenates Body and Heart
Dancing ensures muscles are active, and builds stamina. It improves coordination of limbs as well as the blood flow in the body. Dancing helps to take the heart rate up temporarily and naturally, hence making it a good activity for the heart.
5. Improved Sleep
Dancing relaxes mind, keeps overthinking away and helps to have a good sleep.
7. Improved Relations
Dancing with family/room,ate/friends you are in quarantine with will help improve emotional bond with them. Dancing charges you up with energy thus making you feel less lethargic and lazy and contributing more positively at home.
Divya Dureja is a clinical psychologist