What really causes stress? Stress has become a major part of our life as the changing lifestyle of society demands us to be better than yesterday and others at any cost. Anything that causes pressure of any sorts, creating a negative impact, is stress. Stress affects mental and physical health.

Movement (Dance) is everywhere!

One needs to achieve a relaxed state of mind to relieve or cope with stress in any situation. Expressing oneself non-verbally, while moving to the sound of music has always been a popular form of human relaxation. Dance movement therapy is one such Stress Reducing Activity that takes a leap in this direction to make peace a reality.

You cannot not move. We are surrounded by movement in some or the other way. It can be working out in a gym, jogging, cycling, yoga, tai-chi, structured style of dancing, simply how we walk up the stairs or simply the twitch of your toes when you are sitting comfortably after a long day at work. Movement can definitely be a medium to release stress and discomfort sensed emotionally or physically. Likewise exercise also leaves you feeling more confident and energized.

Dance movement therapy (DMT), which falls under the larger umbrella of Creative Art Therapy is based upon the idea that the mind and body are inseparable. Mind and body interact, so that the change in movement will affect the total functioning. It works on unity of mind, body and spirit. There are five major techniques used in DMT:

  • Body movement
  • Props
  • Imagery and movement
  • Space awareness and memory movements
  • Group coordination.  

DMT in action

Primarily a DMT session would focus on one becoming more comfortable with their bodies by being carefree, child-like and establishing a connection with it by creating awareness of (all kinds of) sensations. An individual’s spontaneous and authentic movement is further taken into consideration for expressing and channelizing stored emotions.

Here are a few ways to relieve stress through DMT and the benefits there of:

Group dancing – Something that we still do but maybe not as often as we should. This is therapeutic as it increases social awareness, communication and empathy

Meditation with movement – Awareness of breath in movement. This is a unique way of collecting one’s thoughts and integrating the mind and body.  

Imagery and visualization – This technique aids a person to feel differently about the same scenario, giving out a different perspective.

Role play with extensive movements – To think out of the box and move our bodies differently, playing different roles. This builds high self-esteem and most importantly, love for oneself. It also helps express unsaid thoughts and emotions.

Since movement can be related to thoughts and feelings, dancing can bring changes to emotions and attitudes almost instantly. In my experience, individuals often come to sessions upset or emotionally low and within moments of beginning to move with music, feel relaxed, centered and energized. This Stress Reducing Activity combines the power of meditation, dance and music. DMT enables us to non-verbally express emotions that could be challenging to share otherwise. Dance movement therapy helps impact mood positively while making us stress-free and rejuvenated.

Neha Oswal