Dancing May Make You Happier According to Science—Here's Why
Bust a move and you may just benefit your brain.
Feeling down? Crank the music way up and erupt into an impromptu dance session.
You may know from casual consideration of your own life that dancing can help elevate your mood—but a promising body of scientific research (for more on that, check out this article from Psychology Spot) also shows the potential mental health benefits of dancing, as well. As a piece from Brit + Co. recently reminded us, dance has the power to lift our spirits thanks to hormones that are released in our brains when we rhythmically (note: nobody said elegantly) bop our limbs around.
"There are so many studies done around dance and happiness and the science of dance as a healing modality, ”Radha Agrawal, Daybreaker CEO and co-founder, told the lifestyle outlet. “It’s the most healing modality that exists on the planet. When you dance, it releases your DOSE," says Agrawal, referring to an acronym for dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins, neurotransmitters and hormones in your brain that are commonly linked with happiness and well-being.
So why, exactly does dancing make us feel so wonderful? After all, much like going to the gym or taking a kickboxing class, dancing gets you active and burns calories, but it seems like there's more at play than simply breaking a sweat. Well, it appears, the strong emotional resonance dancing may have on us plays a role. “You appear to get a much bigger release of endorphins when you dance than during other forms of exercise; it also connects with the emotional [centers] in the brain," Dr.Peter Lovatt, dance psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire told The Telegraph in 2016. For many people, dancing prompts an emotional release–often that’s uncomplicated happiness, while for some it can make them cry. It’s cathartic–a letting go of pent-up emotions.”
Of course, dancing is no replacement for seeing a therapist, engaging in health-promoting behaviors, and leading an overall healthy lifestyle, but it's a comfort to know that we may be a few pirouettes or shuffle off to Buffalos away from helping to erase that frown.