by: Luz Dayrit, PT,DPT
Although coronavirus restrictions are slowly easing up, it will take time before things go back to normal. As of today, there are five million confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide. Yet, people are now allowed to get haircuts and go to their favorite restaurants (with restrictions). It is a very confusing time to be in the new normal. On one side of the nation, people think it is still early to reopen. On the other side, people think it is about time. As people move on with the next stage of the pandemic, finding a vaccine and preventing the number of coronavirus cases from climbing is the challenge. It is expected that when the authorities decide to reopen that there will be a surge of new cases. But a successful reopening would only be possible with the cooperation of everybody. This means wearing face masks, social distancing and staying home as much as people can. Today, people may be allowed to go to the gym, restaurant, or even Disneyland. But they still need to tread lightly because going outside is still risky. Doing the same things at the same place for two months can be tiring and isolating. But these feelings of isolation, maybe, are just signals for people to change how they do their quarantine routine. Take exercise as an example. Instead of doing their usual 20-minute cardio, people can try dancing for a change. In a confusing and discouraging time like today, a lot of people can benefit from dancing. Dancing does not only help people stay in shape, but it also provides relief in a lot of ways. Dance is mostly recognized for its physical and creative benefits, but according to studies, dancing can do wonders for mental health as well.
The coronavirus is not the only pandemic that is plaguing the world today. Anxiety and depression are affecting millions of people around the globe as well. With daily news of death, unemployment, and a million other things, it is no surprise that people are under a lot of anxiety and stress. Everyone has their own way of coping with their stress and anxieties. Like meditation, studies show that dancing can reduce stress levels and help people achieve an improved state of mind. According to a study by the journal, The Arts in Psychotherapy, dancing unleashes mood-boosting chemicals in the body that improves mental state. When people dance, the brain distributes a neurotransmitter called serotonin and endorphins in the body. These release of feel-good chemicals together with the raise of heart rate makes people feel alive. As a result, it makes them feel happy. Dancing also regulates mood and reduces levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, which is the reason why people feel relaxed after dancing.
Being in the middle of a pandemic can be exhausting and overwhelming. One day, people are worried about the state of the virus. The next day, people are protesting. It is toxic and at times it can feel too much. Dancing gives people an outlet to express these negative emotions. Whether they are sad or angry, people can find relief through dance because it is a cathartic process. Dance gives people the chance to be themselves, to express themselves freely and without care, and by doing so, they are removing these negative emotions out of their system. In a hard time like today, it is important for people to have a healthy outlet like dancing. Bottling up emotions could not only affect emotional health, but it can also leave a toll on physical health as well.
One thing that people cannot help during this pandemic is worry. Worrying does not only put people under a lot of stress but worrying also prevents people from thinking clearly. When people worry, their cortisol levels increase which affects their ability to think clearly. Not to mention, it also affects their ability to make good decisions. In a world that depends on the decisions that people make every day not having the clear ability to think can be detrimental. Either by memorizing dance moves or just trying to keep up with the rhythm, dancing helps people sharpen their mental acuity. According to studies, dancing improves brain function and memory skills. Dancing helps people have better focus and concentration. When people dance their focus is only on their movements and what they are feeling in the moment which allows them to be present. Dancing also makes people aware of themselves and their surroundings. As much as how the moves and the steps make the routine, dancing is not so much about how the movements look like. What’s more important is how it makes the person feel. As Wayne Dyer, a self-help author, said “When you dance your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It’s to enjoy each step along the way”.
Another reason why people should try dance for a change is for the simple reason that it is fun. Whenever there is music and an open space, it is an automatic invitation to a dance party. From upbeat songs to slow tempos, dancing is an activity that will always give people a good time. Fortunately, people do not have to dance alone during this pandemic. Zoom, a video call app, has made dance parties in quarantine possible. Online dance parties with friends can help people connect, catch up, and exercise without the risk of getting sick. It also allows people to feel less lonely after being stuck at home for months. Dancing with friends is fun but dancing alone is not bad either. In fact, it can be just as fun. Youtube also has a variety of dance tutorials that people can choose from. The COVID-19 pandemic has stopped people from doing a lot of things, but these zoom parties and online dance classes are a testament of how with just a sprinkle of creativity, anything is possible.
No matter how tempting it is to go back to the gym, it is better to be safe than sorry. To be clear, no one is stopping anybody from going anywhere, but the point still stands, it is safer to be at home. It is true that people cannot hide behind their homes forever. However, people should be willing to make adjustments in order for the new normal to work. Nothing beats going to restaurants and exercising at the gym. But one thing that this pandemic has shown is that doing the daily routine at home can work and can be just as fun. Dancing is an example of that. This pandemic does not only concern one, but everyone in the world. This is everyone’s battle. To survive, people must be willing to adjust and compromise.