For many of us, the holiday season brings cheer and excitement, an abundance of social gatherings, food and festivities. It is important to remember, however, that the holidays are not always the “…Most Wonderful Time of the Year” for all. Bright lights, loud crowds, family pressures and blaring holiday tunes can be overwhelming and can often stir up emotions such as grief and loss for many individuals, as they are reminded of their own losses and life challenges. This may lead to symptoms of anxiety, sadness and physical distress. Additionally, individuals may feel “out of control” and experience increased difficulty with social interactions.
What can we do when we’re feeling blue?
Dance/movement therapy (DMT), a holistic and complementary modality, is based on the principle that the mind and body are connected and can be especially effective during the holidays. Participation engages the sympathetic nervous system, cultivates a support system, promotes overall relaxation, encourages physical exertion and provides a safe space in which to express and process thoughts and feelings. Importantly, DMT promotes overall well-being and self-confidence as members experience feelings of control over their own bodies and body movements. Did you know that moving and sharing actually elevates mood, leads to changes in norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin (“feel-good” chemicals) and increases the flow of oxygen to the brain and muscles? Of course, dance/movement therapy happens within a therapeutic relationship with a credentialed therapist, however, there are inherent benefits to moving and dancing that all can tap into for self care. There are many wonderful reasons to get moving!
Here are some ideas to get started!
Try playing your favorite song or type of music and notice if you feel compelled to move or sing. If so, just go with it! Notice how moving and singing makes you feel. Is it changing your mood? Is it intensifying how you already feel? Bring some kind, compassionate awareness to whatever is bubbling up.
Perhaps music may also move you into some silence, stillness, gentle stretching, or even wrapping up in your favorite blanket and breathing. Again, just go with it! Remember to breathe and to move only in ways that suit you– there is no right or wrong. Moving away the blues can be a great way to cope with the holiday frenzy and prepare for the New Year to come!
References and Resources
- Levy, F.J. (2005). Dance/movement therapy; A healing art (2nd rev ed.). Reston, VA: National Dance Association, an Association of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance.
- Schmais, C. (1985). Healing processes in group dance therapy. American Journal of Dance Therapy, 8(1),17-36.
- Information about depression from GoodTherapy.org
- 10 Tips to Beat the Holiday Blues from Psychology Today