My mother-in-law and her sister will be in the middle of sweeping the patio and then all of a sudden the beats of a salsa song blast through the room and her broomstick transforms into a dancing partner. Music and dancing has a way to turn even the most mundane of experiences into something magical. For me, I am happiest when I’m not following strict choreography and can improvise to the beat of the music. Who cares if you “get it wrong?”
The best part is - we can dance almost anywhere and it makes us happier.
That’s not a cliche. It’s actually backed by science.
Dancing is a therapeutic resource, and it really does have a tangible, positive effect on our lives.
In a University of Derby study, participants who were suffering from depression were given the opportunity to take nine weeks of salsa lessons. After the course ended, the participants reported fewer negative thoughts, better concentration and a greater sense of peace and tranquility. No wonder my mother in law takes salsa breaks while cleaning!
Although, salsa is not the only dance that is proven by science to improve mood and overall well being.
A group of Australian researchers conducted a similar study with more participants, and those who danced any style also reported “feeling happier, but also more satisfied with their lives, especially in relationships, health, and the goals achieved over the years.”
Sure, there’s a lot of chemistry involved. Your brain releases endorphins when you exercise in general, including dancing. Endorphins are what we call the “happy” molecules; they make you feel good. Not only that -- your muscles can release a lot of tension that’s been building up throughout the day, especially if you work at a desk.
But more importantly, dance is inherently a social phenomenon. Dance brings us together with our friends, family and children. And even while at home, you can enjoy the social aspect of dancing.
We can still dance with our kids, our spouses, even our grandparents if we live with them! The times when the family is feeling the least like dancing might be the best time to turn on that guilty pleasure song, put on some tights, and start moving.