Dance Yourself Happy

For many people around the world, there have been months of lockdown so it’s not surprising if you’re getting a bit fed up. Being at home, not socialising or being able to follow our normal routines can be really tough on our wellbeing. But never fear… for Dr Dance is here!

Dr Peter Lovatt – otherwise known as Dr Dance – is a dance psychologist who is passionate about the positive benefits of dance. Follow his tips below on taking care of yourself during these difficult times and, if you’re feeling low, how to dance yourself happy!

Five steps to happiness
It’s a well-known scientific fact that dancing makes us feel happier. It boosts our confidence, gives us more energy and eases stress. “Dancing has been shown to increase feelings of positive mood, such as happiness and vigour,” explains Dr Lovatt. “It reduces feelings of negative mood, such as frustration, depression and tension.”

Dr Lovatt recommends at least 10 minutes of mood-boosting dancing every day. All you need to do is follow these five steps to happiness:

  1. Sound – Dr Dance says: “Find a piece of music that you love.”
  2. Stand – Dr Dance says: “Move away from your sofa or desk and find enough space to swing your arms.”
  3. Shake – Dr Dance says: “Give your body a good shake and wiggle everything you’ve got.”
  4. Sync – Dr Dance says: “Sync your wiggles to the music, or with other people.”
  5. Smile – Dr Dance says: “Relax, feel the groove and wave goodbye to the blues!”

Music for every mood
What music is best to dance to? It depends on your mood. Dr Lovatt recommends picking a dance style depending on how you want to feel. Need an energy boost? Put on some lively, rhythmic music, such as “Flight of the Bumble Bee” by Rimsky-Korsakov, or “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen. Want to feel calm? Try something gentle and soothing, such as Chopin’s Nocturnes. Need to feel brave? Put on something stirring and powerful, such as “Dance of the Knights” by Prokofiev (from Romeo and Juliet), or “This is Me” from The Greatest Showman.

“Whatever you’re feeling,” Dr Lovatt says, “There’s a dance out there that will make you feel a whole lot better.”

Look after yourself
According to Dr Lovatt, there are lots of other things you can do, too, to help you stay happy. “You can get a good night’s sleep, you can make time to connect with other people, learn to live a healthy life and to do something completely for yourself.”

We all know how tiredness can make us feel down or irritable, so getting a good night’s sleep is really important. Staying connected with friends and family reminds us we’re not alone while eating healthily – more fruit, less ice cream! – boosts energy and make us feel good about ourselves. Having a variety of interests – from sewing to skateboarding – can help, too, as it keeps us busy and having fun!

How does dancing make you feel?
These young dancers share with us how dance has helped them through these past few months, and what other things they do to cheer themselves up and stay positive…

“Dancing on my own relieves me and helps me express how I’m feeling, but not in a loud way.”  Peggi, 13

“Dancing makes me feel refreshed and happy. I also really like trampolining and I’m learning the piano!” Scarlet, 10

“I love to dance because it takes my mind off my worries. When I’m doing my online dance class everyone shares the same passion as me so it feels really good.” Naomi, 13

“Dancing is fun and it’s good exercise. Going for a walk and staying in touch with my friends helps to boost my mood.”  Freddie, 13

Mental health support
Here are a few mental health organisations that offer support and information to young people.