Dance and Movement Therapy is quickly becoming recognised for its benefits on the mind and body. Still, some find it difficult to take the first step, open up and get moving.

Dancing has proven to be an effective therapy for anxiety, nervousness and other mental health struggles. According to an article in The Huffington Post, overthinking is a national epidemic among young and middle-aged adults. A study found that 73% of adults between the ages of 25 and 35 overthink. But dancing can help us get out of these disruptive thought patterns. 

Dancing and Mental Health

Overthinking feels like an endless spiral that stacks one thought on top of another in a continuous cycle where a person is stuck thinking about negative possibilities until they become overwhelming. All of this overthinking has detrimental effects on the body too. Our minds and bodies are interconnected, meaning taking care of your physical health can help improve your mental health. Reminding ourselves to move when we feel ourselves slipping into negative thoughts is a graceful way to take control of our mind and body. 

You can tune out of a spiralling thought and tune in to some music. Find a private place, get into a rhythm and get dancing. And with that, let go. The  movement can help you shake away the weight of what you were thinking about, or help make it seem smaller. Alternatively, the movement may help you focus and reach a conclusion to what you’re overthinking about. Researchers have examined whether dancing can be a good treatment therapy for depression and found that, as dancing focuses on body movement and emotional expression, it can prove helpful in alleviating symptoms of depression and free the mind from overthinking. 

Here are three things to help you consider when beginning dance therapy:

If you’re trying dance therapy on your own:

Some people feel inadequate, silly or embarrassed at just the thought of people seeing them dance. Others fear they will have to perform dance steps or display an aptitude for body movement, as opposed to simply expressing their thoughts and feelings. But you’re not on stage, no one is watching, you’re simply moving to a beat in complete privacy. It’s just you doing exercise to help yourself. 

If you choose a dance therapist:

What therapists have witnessed in sessions of Dance and Movement Therapy can offer insights into a person’s deep-rooted feelings. For example, an arm reaching out, a fist gesturing in rage, the symbolic rocking of a child or even the tilt of a head may offer vital understanding in the process of dance therapy. 

This understanding can lead to breakthroughs through dance therapy that traditional talk therapy might not have uncovered due to a person’s inhibitions on what they say.

If you join a dance school:

According to Irmgard Bartenieff, a dancer & dance theorist, in the act of dancing, one can project feelings into space through the body, and such movements themselves are immediately communicative. The experience of building one’s own organic structures in space can subtly build confidence in one’s self. To do this with others helps to develop confidence through their support. 

While the motivational aspect of the movement is focused mainly on the individual’s relationship to the self, Bartenieff has also emphasized the individual’s relationship to others and to society. The combination of exercise and expression in front of other people can truly send your confidence soaring and prepare you for situations outside of the dance studio. 

If you are thinking of getting into dance, we sell some of the finest dancewear in Canada from beginner dance shoes all the way up to premium competition-standard products.