What does dance mean to you? This week, Leap of Joy has been asking ourselves and our followers that question. As we covered a few weeks ago, dance has some fantastic health benefits to get you moving alone. In addition to physical and mental health benefits, dance can do some pretty awesome things to help you relieve stress in your daily life.

            An important factor in using dance as a stress reliever comes from the idea of “mindfulness”. Mindfulness based stress relief centers around meditation and repetition, allowing yourself to be fully consumed by the activity you’re a part of. Though most commonly practiced in yoga, mindfulness is an important part of the discipline of dance. By allowing yourself to be fully consumed by your practice, you become open to a mindset that allows all of the stress plaguing your life to melt away. This practice is used in all disciplines of dance by both professionals and amateurs. In this sense, dance becomes a form of therapy, utilizing the good feelings gained to get through tough times in other aspects of life.

            The idea of dance as an outlet for healthy living is what would be considered a holistic approach to healing both mental and physical ailments. Realistically, dance does something different for each person who is in practice. In general, the arts can be used for an all-encompassing effect. For children, dance can play an integral role in health, promoting fitness and concentration. Similar effects will come from the use of creative writing, acting, drawing, painting, etc. The arts stimulate the mind in a different way than book learning, allowing children’s imaginations to become a part of their everyday routine rather than being released when deemed fit by an adult. As children transition into being teens, then adulthood, these lessons and disciplines learned from their work with the arts will continue to grow and evolve. The arts then become a milestone in the lives of youth.

            Starting early is definitely beneficial, though it’s never too late to take up dance or any other arts outlet for that matter. As adults move into the elderly phase of their life, keeping up with dance allows for a fun way to keep fit and motivated, in both body and mind. Using the same principles we teach to children, the elderly too benefit from the arts in stimulating ways that we learn as children. Mindfulness again plays an important role here as a lifetime of stress and worry can wear on the mind and self. This is true for all walks of life. Dance can be the glue that holds us together.

Elderly couple dancing in a dance hall --- Image by © G. Baden/Corbis

Elderly couple dancing in a dance hall — Image by © G. Baden/Corbis

            So again, as we move through the mid-week hump into the coming weekend, what does dance mean to you? What can you accomplish in your life through the outlet, and how can you utilize this? We would love to hear about your experiences and add them to our artist spotlight. Email drhoutkooper@leapofjoy.org to tell us about your passion for the arts.

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