Stress and accompanying depression are not conditions unique to the 21st century. Our history documents depression as far back as the ancient Egyptians and Greeks, such as Hippocrates. Humans have been looking for ways to combat these often-debilitating conditions for centuries.
One recommended treatment that repeats itself throughout our history is exercise. One of the most frequently recommended forms of exercise for lifting the body, mind and spirit is dance.
Physical Toll of Depression and Stress
Depression and stress can be physically painful as well as emotionally draining. You may experience chronic fatigue, sleep disruption, and increased or decreased appetite. Depression and stress can interfere with your normal sex drive. You may notice your movements have slowed and your thinking seems to lag. You may have difficulty remembering things, and your physical movements may seem slow.
Exercise is generally the last thing you want to do when you're in the throes of depression's negativity. But once you get moving, you'll find the physical activity makes a difference.
Now Is the Time to Dance
Physical activity can be the distraction you need to break away from the cycle of negativity fostered by depression and stress. Regular exercise prompts the body to release the endorphins and neurotransmitters that can naturally ease depression.
The effect can be immediate. One session of exercise lasting a mere 25 minutes can improve your mood and lower stress. It can increase your energy levels and improve your motivation to do it again. Any activity that increases your heart rate can be beneficial. Dance falls into this category.
Not only can dance improve your physical condition, it can help you counter the social isolation of depression, the fatigue of stress and the general malaise of emotions that robs us of our motivation to interact socially with family and friends.
Be Cinderella at the Ball
Like Cinderella, your road to a better life can begin with a ballroom dance. Not only does it provide you with much needed physical activity, it is also a social activity that gets you back into the world around you. Simply being around other people can be uplifting and contribute to a more positive outlook.
The aerobic nature of ballroom dancing gives you the physical activity needed to raise your endorphin levels. It can increase the flexibility of your muscles and joints, promote improved balance, and reduce your stress levels. Learning and remembering the dance steps stimulate your brain and help you focus. This can sharpen a lagging memory. Concentrating on the dance steps and music keeps your mind off the stressors in your life, allowing your mind and body to relax.
We cannot overlook the socialization ballroom dancing provides. The physical contact with another human being can give comfort like nothing else.
Spice It Up With Latin Dance
Latin dances include such social favorites as rumba, samba, cha-cha and Paso Doble. The physical activity of Latin dance lowers the risks of heart disease, helps lower blood pressure and can aid in weight management. It increases the flow of oxygen to the brain and muscles. The partnership needed for the dance can decrease the social isolation of depression and lessen the loneliness and negative moods of stress.
Memorizing the steps exercises the mind as well as the body. The beat of the music can help improve coordination. The quick movements of the Latin dance increase the heart rate to improve cardiac endurance.
Endorphins flood the body, lifting the mood and vanquishing the negativity of depression. Physical touch of another human raises the spirit and lifts the sadness of stress and isolation.
Once you begin, you won't want to quit.
When your heart is aching, dance.