Dance is often thought of as a great way to change how you feel. Some people prefer to learn a specific form of dance, like ballet, tap or jazz. The benefits of this can be keeping fit, making new friends and connections, and moving together in time to music. It can also be reliable part of your week that you can look forward to.
Do remember, though, that because dance can be a form of artistic expression you don’t have to follow the rules or learn a specific type of dance – you can also just find a space to move (with or without music) in a way that feels natural or intuitive to you, whether alone in your bedroom or with a group of friends.
Dance therapists think that mental and emotional difficulties can be held in the body in the form of muscle tension and constrained movement patterns. Releasing those tensions can have a relieving effect for both the body and the mind. You might find that moving rhythmically helps ease anxiety, or you might find moving spontaneously helps you trust your impulses and build confidence like these young people from EPUT NHS who created this flash mob for Mental Health Awareness Week.
In the following video, Khatak dancer, Meera Patel discusses how dance helps her mental wellbeing:
What young people have told us:
'Gets me excited, gives me a burst of energy and channels my creative energy.'
'Play some music that reminds you of good memory.'
'If you need to find a way to let off some steam or put yourself in a good mood, put on your favourite songs and have a little boogie in the living room or even when you're doing the washing up, wiggle your bottom and dance. Even small movements make a big difference.'
There isn’t much academic research in the area of self-care for young people who are living with mental health issues. We are trying to find out more about what works for different people so we can better advise other young people what to try.
If you’ve tried this activity when you were struggling in relation to your mental health, please let us know if it helped you and how by clicking on the ‘Did this activity help you’ button.