HEALTHY MIND MATTERS

Dance is a unique way to help improve your mental health

Sep 6, 2022, 6:40 PM | Updated: Sep 15, 2022, 10:09 am

SALT LAKE CITY — As mental health crises continue to rise, there are ways to help cope with the stress and anxiety of the day-to-day world.  

Dr. Kristin Francis, child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist at Huntsman Mental Health Institute said dance is a unique way to release.

 “Dance itself as a movement is not only different than repetitive kind of exercise, but also it’s actually more of a self-expressive art form,” Dr. Francis said. “It can really take you out of the moment of feeling depressed or anxious and put you in just kind of a meditative experience.”

Sophia Cannella, an 11-year-old dancer at Ballet West, said dance helps her mentally. 

“If I’m having a hard day at school or a hard day in general, dance always makes me feel happier and free,” she said.

Ballet instructor Ashleigh Richardson said she can read her students’ emotions. 

“Sometimes when I walk in, they’ll just be kind of quiet. You could tell they had a bad day,” she said.

To help, Richardson said she adjusts her class when she notices a dancer is struggling mentally. 

“It depends on the kid. Some of them really like to be creative. So I’ll take a song and say, let’s take five minutes and make up our own little dance. Sometimes they don’t like to be creative, sometimes they just really like to work hard in class and that helps them,” Richardson said. 

Even if you are not a dancer, Dr. Francis says there are ways to help with your mental health.  

“Any type of movement is great for reducing stress, reducing anxiety, and increasing endorphins, which will help you feel better, they boost your concentration, your mood,” she said. 

To raise awareness for suicide prevention, dancers from all over the state can take master classes celebrating life and hope on September 10th at the Dance for Life Gala. 

That night, dancers will perform to raise money for suicide prevention and mental health programs throughout Utah.

 “No one wants to talk about it because it’s so heart wrenching, but if we don’t do anything then nothing will change, and we need it to change,” Kristin Barlow, Executive Director for Dance for Life said. 

You can buy tickets to the master class and the Saturday night gala here.

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Dance is a unique way to help improve your mental health