After 2020 and all the challenges it has brought, lots of people are looking for ways to make 2021 more joyful and optimistic. There is no shortage of ideas and tips but there is a very simple one with proven history - dancing.
Our cavemen ancestors knew it - they painted joyful dancers on the walls of their homes to celebrate the love of dancing. Some societies even ban it because they want their people to be grim and lacking in that joy. But why does it work like that and how can we embrace the natural path to joyfulness?
The science behind the joy of dance
Now we do not want to get too technical but let’s take a moment to understand the science behind the joy of dance because it’s fascinating.
According to experts, such as Dr Lovatt from the University of Hertfordshire, there are four big reasons that we love to dance and feel better when we do:
- Physical stimulation
- Emotional stimulation
- Cognitive benefits
- Social interaction
In other words, when we dance, there this big release of hormones in the brain that tell us we are happy. Called endorphins, they are also released during other types of exercise. Dancing is also cathartic - you can let go of all that bottled up emotion and feel free. That’s because it helps reduce cortisol in the system - that’s the stress hormone.
Other benefits from dancing
So, science shows that dancing makes us feel better - anyone who loves to dance could confirm that. But there are more benefits to it.
For example, those cognitive benefits we mentioned. Here is an example. One study took a group of people and played music for a short time. They had three options to choose from - sit and listen, use an exercise bike or dance. Afterwards, all of them were given cognitive tasks.
Of the groups, the ones who got up and danced were the ones who had the best problem-solving abilities. Their mood levels increased, and they were mentally sharper than even the people on the exercise bike.
The social side of dancing
While dancing alone is a perfectly good thing to do and will bring you plenty of benefits, there are also more benefits if you are dancing with or around others. Dancing has been shown to help with social bonding and is that something shared that brings people together. When you are taking part in an activity you all enjoy, there is an instant connection that can be hard to create otherwise, of course we will have to wait until it is safe to do so, but dancing in our own homes, via online classes or at Covid secure in person lessons is a real joy!
Dancing for everyone
While there’s a great deal of joy in learning a formal dance skill such as ballet, there’s a ton of benefits to any kind of dancing, anywhere. From the youngest to the oldest, we can all have a more joyful 2021 if we find time to bring some dance into our lives!