Depression is a static experience.
Grey swirls around like an endless viper, spewing its poison and unrelenting darkness.
Thankfully, I’ve never endured the depths of such despair, but ask anyone who has experienced severe depression, and they’ll tell you about the heaviness impeding their ability to step forward.
Bleakness surrounds them, with the capacity to look ahead remaining null. Therapy and medication often improve their plight but, not alone.
What else may help?
Movement, movement, and more movement.
What happens when you can’t? Fair question, but if you can rise from your seat, I encourage you to push forward more.
Slow and steady may be the way, but once you mobilize, add another ingredient.
Many say exercise. Of course, but it may be a daunting endeavor, even if they know it will help. However, what’s included in exercise? Walk a few steps, yes, but some people believe it won’t lift mood. Been there, done that.
What about dancing? What? Yes, dancing, and I don’t mean taking a class, although that could enhance the experience.
I’m talking about getting up and playing some of your favorite music. If you can’t dance, sway, and notice a mind-body experience as the brain orchestrates the physical movement. You might even crack a smile permeating that black cloud. It may be temporary, but isn’t everything. Nothing remains permanent, which includes that futile feeling called depression.
ArticleCity.com writes about the beauty of this unique expression to human beings and cites five physical and mental health benefits of dancing as an adult.
1) Improves Coordination – Unlike our usual movements, dancing forces the body to use a distinct set of muscles to strengthen us.
2) Boosts Confidence – You may not perform in front of another human being for sometime, but if you move your body, pay attention to the subtle change. Look in the mirror. A lightness might emerge as you shift your body in ways unfamiliar to you.
3) Promotes Cardiovascular Health – This might challenge some to push themselves. I can’t take a class, or I’ll never reach a two-hour or even one-hour interim. True, but you can dance in shorter intervals. Move or swirl as you are doing other activities. Five minutes or ten minutes a few times a day adds up, and you reach a level not thought possible.
4) Increases Mental Agility – Several studies suggest mental health benefits from learning to dance, but it also affects mental agility. A researcher from Harvard Medical School reports improvement in cognitive performance for adults and children. The thought is physical activity contributes to brain stimulation.
5) Manages Weight – Who doesn’t like this benefit? People often gain weight because of depression, so here is another twofer. Dance away the weight while making a steady dent toward depression.
If you decide to take dance classes, there’re boundless choices. If you want a partner, Swing, east or west, Tango, Ballroom, and traditional or Latin-style are a few that might meet your needs. How about line dancing? Many classes and gatherings exist, providing this pleasurable experience, and you might meet interesting people.
To go solo, there’s tap, jazz, ballet, hip-hop, belly dancing, and NIA among others.
How long have human beings danced? A Skillshare blog reports that early cave paintings depict dancing figures as early as 3300 BC. You might say it’s in the genes.
There’s a song by the Mavericks entitled Dance The Night Away. Every time I hear it, I can’t suppress the urge to do what they say. I encourage you to play it. If nothing else, close your eyes, imagine warmth and sunshine, and smile. Then, watch what happens.