Belly Dancing Lifts The Spirits!

Belly Dance Tucson fans I’ve got a great article for you! Belly dancing is beneficial for so many reasons. This is just one area of life that belly dancing can be used to promote well being. Please enjoy this wonderful article written by Melissa Hathaway. Thank you.

Beat Depression And Anxiety By Belly Dancing

Melissa Hathaway

Very often, people who suffer from the symptoms of depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions will find that as part of their treatment and recovery plan, given to them from a physician or psychiatrist, it is recommended that they take some form of physical exercise to help alleviate the internal pressures they suffer from. Exercise, in all its forms is known to help stimulate feel good chemicals like serotonin (known to lift mood and aid relaxation) and endorphins that can help with pain relief. A recently published study now suggests that dance can be a useful tool to help in beating the difficulties that people face with mental illness. Indeed, belly dancing can be a powerful tool for self improvement, learning to love yourself once more and finding new ways of positive expression.

Dance for mental well-being

At the start of this year, an interesting study was produced for the Journal of the American Medical Association, by the Archive of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, which looked into whether using dance could be an effective tool to help give a better understanding of mental health. The study was undertaken and completed in Sweden throughout 2012 and the findings published in January 2013. For the research, a core of just over one hundred adolescent girls were taken and split into two separate groups. All of them reported issues with varying degrees of anxiety, depression and pain (which occurred usually in their neck or back). One group were told to take a weekly dance class to help with depression and other issues, whilst the other group did not and just simply carried on with their usual exercise. Afterwards, the girls were interviewed and asked to rate how they felt for a certain time period after the classes had ended. All those who took the dance classes has experienced an upward surge in mood, which actually lasted for months after the trial had finished, whilst for the other group who did not take any exercise, their conditions remained static and they experienced no lessening of their anxiety and depression. The results are very interesting and thought provoking and show that for many, dance could well be a useful tool in helping to overcome mental illness in varying degrees.

Improve your mental health by dancing whatever your age may be

Of course, whilst this study was undertaken on teenage girls, there is absolutely no reason why you can’t use dance as a positive tool for self empowerment and the improvement of mental health issues whatever age you are.

Probably one of the most positive aspects of using something like belly dancing, or dancing in general as a way to combat depression is that many people undertaking it will simply not feel like they are doing exercise at all. Part of the barrier to getting people to move their bodies is the fact that the word ‘exercise’ instantly conjures up images of being forced to pound away in the gym for hours at a time and feeling thoroughly miserable about it. Dance is something that can give a lot of pleasure, a great chance to lessen tension in the body and tone up, without realising it. Very often the use of great music can help with this too, as it encourages you to listen to an uplifting beat which can be instantly cheering and calming.

A second and equally important reason, which particularly relates to the arena of belly dancing, is that chance it gives women a chance learn to love their body again. This is particularly important if they have had issues with conditions such as Body Dysmorphic Disorder, or perhaps have been troubled with eating disorders – and as a result have a distorted image of the way they look. This form of movement can gently encourage an exploration of how beautiful a woman’s body is and can be. From a physical point of view, many of the different styles of belly dance will have different effects on the core muscle groups of the body – for example, using veils as part of a routine can help to tone up the upper body, in particular the arms and shoulders. The dance routines as a whole will have a positive effect on posture, the lower back and strengthening of the core abdominal muscles. This type of dance can have quite a powerful effect on how women can feel both premenstrually and menstrually. Therefore, using this type of dance as a form of exercise, can help to alleviate pain and pressure and to give a sense of physical and mental calm at these times of the month. From a mental point of view, the continued use of such exercise can help women to see how their body can change positively and once these seeds are sown they grow to have a better appreciation of themselves.

One final area that belly dancing and mental health can combine effectively is in the arena of boosting self esteem. Surprisingly, this not only works on a personal level, but within a group setting too. On it’s simplest level, the act of letting go and dancing to good, uplifting music can really help to make you feel better about yourself and to rediscover the way the body feels and responds to emotions. On another level, a belly dancing class, taken as part of a group can be a wonderful emotional journey for everyone involved. The environment of such a class is one of empathy, sympathy and caring – it is a place in which women can come together, to talk, to move and to share their experiences of life, whether good or bad and to use the opportunity to heal through the medium of dance.