Dance your cares away! Patsy Kensit
For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved to dance. As a child I danced before I walked. As a teen I’d bounce around frenetically with my friends and slowdance around murky halls with spotty boys, filled with the excitement of teen romance.
In my 20s and 30s, I danced on film before partying the night away in glamorous and exciting company. In my 40s, I was on Strictly and I had the absolute pleasure of learning the real artistry of ballroom dancing. Despite how challenging it was to learn so many new routines in such a short space of time, I count it as a wonderful career highlight and one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
Then the menopause hit and I went through a difficult phase during which I didn’t know my own body anymore, and I struggled to find the energy to move myself in the way I used to. It was only when friends decided to drag me to a chakra dance workshop, promising to reconnect me to my innate womanhood, that I rediscovered my joy of movement – and I’m so glad I did. Without it, I felt lost.
Dancing is an inherent part of humanity. It can be sensuous like the Argentinian tango, a warning like the Haka, or a way to mark the passing of a loved one with joy, like the coffin dancers of Ghana.
We dance at weddings, Bar Mitzvahs and celebrations. If I’m tired, stressed or angry, I’ll dance around my kitchen until the tears stop. Often my friends join me. Many a bad date or career crisis has been swayed and swung away at my place.
So, I was not at all surprised to discover that dance is one of the most protective things we can do for our mental health as we age.
A Swedish survey of teenage girls with anxiety and depression found that those who attended a weekly dance class reported improvements to their mood and symptoms, lasting for up to eight months after they ceased attending.
Professor Adrianna Mendrek found that dance movement therapy (DMT) helps to promote insight (how we view our situations), integration (how we learn to live with them) and overall wellbeing.
By reconnecting the body to the mind, dance can help sufferers lose the feeling of ‘disconnection’ that often sits behind mental health issues.
Several papers have been published on the neuroscience of dance, highlighting the noted improvements in people with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Indeed, learning even simple routines helps to build new neural pathways in the brain, leading to overall improvements in coordination, memory and mood.
The key thing to remember is that anyone can dance. You can do it alone if you’re selfconscious, or with friends. You don’t have to be skinny – check out the work of choreographer Kate Champion if you don’t believe me – and you absolutely don’t need to dance perfectly.
So, the next time you’re sad, simply turn the tunes up loud, kick off your heels and let yourself go. I guarantee you’ll be back to your brilliant best in no time.
Patsy Kensit Her beauty range, Preciously Perfect, is available from Ideal World. Search idealworld.tv to discover the full collection.
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