How to Improve Mental Health (Benefits of Ballroom Dancing)?
One of the best ways to improve your mental health is to start ballroom dancing. Why? Dancing overall provides amazing benefits for your physical and mental health. And ballroom dancing, specifically, has some of the additional benefits that make it the best activity to keep your mental health in check! Read on to learn more about all of them in this blog post.
What Is Mental Health?
The Canadian Mental Health Association (CAMH) defines mental health as a state of being and how one is able to cope with the demands and stress of day to day living. CAMH continues to clarify that mental health is not just about surviving, it’s about thriving. It’s enjoying life, having a sense of purpose, and being able to manage life’s highs and lows.
Mental Health Awareness Month
In Canada, October is recognized as Mental Health Awareness Month. Now, more than ever, during the pandemic (COVID-19 in 2020), it is crucial to highlight the importance of mental health. Just take a look at the figures.
According to CAMH, 1 in 4 Canadians will experience some form of mental illness; 1 in 8 Canadians will develop a mental illness requiring professional care.
Moreover, suicide attempt rates have grown in Canada in 2020 even in comparison to the previous year. These figures are pretty disturbing. But it is not surprising because of all the social and economic restrictions that Canadians have had to face in 2020. And these resulted in adverse mental health outcomes and suicides for many.
Early Signs of Mental Health Problems
Here are some of the early signs that you or someone you know may be experiencing mental health problems:
- Eating or sleeping too much or too little
- Pulling away from people and usual activities
- Having low or no energy
- Feeling numb or like nothing matters
- Having unexplained aches and pains
- Feeling helpless or hopeless
- Smoking, drinking or using drugs more than usual
- Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared
- Yelling or fighting with family and friends
- Experiencing severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
- Having persistent thoughts and memories you can’t get out of your head
- Hearing voices or believing things that are not true
- Thinking of harming yourself or others
- Inability to perform daily tasks like taking care of your kids or getting to work or school
The good news is that just like physical health, mental health can be improved and strengthened with various activities. Think of it as a muscle in your body. The more you train it (the right way and safely!), the stronger it becomes.
Ballroom dancing is one of the best ways to help you start improving your mental health or maintain it in a good condition.
Mental Health Benefits of Ballroom Dancing
Ballroom dancing fulfills 3 crucial needs that are important for our mental health. These include the need to be held, to be honoured and to enjoy/be enjoyed. Below we talk more about each of them, why they are important for us and how ballroom dancing helps improve our mental health through these needs.
Ballroom Dancing Fulfills Our Need to Be Held
First, ballroom dancing fulfills our basic need to be held and touched. For example, it is a known fact that when deprived of touch during the first 6 months of life, children develop more mental health issues in the future than those that received that contact comfort from their caregiver.
Moreover, even as adults, the comforting and caring (of course, consensual) touch or embrace continues to impact our mental health in many positive ways. For instance, it makes us feel better when we are down. Additionally, it makes us feel loved and cared for. It also brings some kind of comfort into our space. No wonder that there is such a thing as professional cuddle services.
Ballroom dancing, where you hold your dance partner and learn how to communicate with another person through caring, gentle, and at the same time confident and firm touch, fulfills our need to be held. It is kind of like a “glorified” cuddling experience. Just enhanced by the fact that you are learning a new skill while having fun to the music and enjoying yourself.
Ballroom Dancing Fulfills Our Need to Be Honoured
One of the first things we teach our dance students is respect for another person’s space and body, whether it be your life partner, your dance teacher, or a complete stranger that you are dancing with. Ultimately, ballroom dancing teaches you to take care of another person through touch and body language and honour them and yourself.
Why is this important for our mental health? Being honoured and cared for allows us to improve self-confidence, feel safe in our environment, and learn how to trust and let go. And these are all the things that help us build those coping mechanisms when life makes us get out of our comfort zone or unexpected events happen. Once ballroom dancing is part of your life, you can always recreate that feeling of being honoured and cared for by just coming to dance class and dancing with someone.
Ballroom Dancing Fulfills Our Need to Enjoy and Be Enjoyed
Have you ever noticed that you want to be around people that enjoy your company and the activity you are participating in? In fact, enjoyment is one of the most important keys to improving your mental health.
The reason for it is that the state of enjoyment allows us to focus on the present, experience fulfillment and happiness which drastically enhances our psychological state. On the chemical level, when we truly enjoy a physical activity, we release endorphins which in turn reduces stress and promotes an overall positive feeling in our body and mind.
Ballroom dancing is one of such activities where the enjoyment is doubled. In other words, you not only enjoy the process of being active and moving overall but also sense the enjoyment of your partner while they are dancing as well. This creates an electrifying multiplied feeling of positivity. Additionally, you just laugh, smile, and have fun in the process, so nothing can be better for your mental health and overall level of energy than dancing.
Whether you are going through a tough time right now or just looking to add some positivity to your life, ballroom dancing will most certainly help you improve your mental state and only change your life for the better. Like we say, people dance the way they live and live the way they dance. So when we help you improve one, it helps improve the other.
What Our Students Say…
“Gil and Valeria, Deciding to learn how to dance was a HUGE step out of my comfort zone and I’m so grateful that I chose Access Ballroom! You are the best kind of teachers. You are talented, warm, funny and filled with such positive energy (everything a teacher should be and more)! Thank you so much for the past seven months. It has been a pleasure coming to the studio to be taught by you both. I recognize how lucky I got in finding you. You are so talented at what you do, a gift to teaching. Thank you. I look forward to continuing laughing and learning with you both at Access Ballroom! 💃 Fiona xo” – Fiona Petheriotis, Google review
“Gil and Valeria are amazing instructors. My fiancee and I have taken group classes with Valeria and private lessons with Gil and both were very enjoyable. We were nervous at first because dancing wasn’t really our repertoire but as we progressed with them, we’ve gotten more and more comfortable. They are friendly, accommodating, patient and I have no hesitation to recommend them to my friends and family!” – Ernest Chan, Google review
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