9 Reasons Dancing (Even When Nobody’s Looking!) Can Save Your Day

Photo by Namita Azad
Photo by Namita Azad
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The Challenge: A lot of people (especially men) do not like to dance.
The Science: Just 5 minutes of listening to music and moving fosters well-being.
The Solution: Get up and dance (even in the office)! It’s so good for you!

If you spend time on Facebook a lot, there´s a good chance you will recently have come across one of those flash mob videos where people dance all throughout their city to the groove of Pharrell Williams´ fabulous tune “Happy”. Would you take part in something like that? Maybe you should – it might be good for you.

But let´s be honest here: a lot of people do not like to dance. They feel uncomfortable moving their body in a rhythmic fashion, fearing it might look awkward to other people. Actually, psychologists have described a specific facet of our personality by the name of dance confidence. As the name suggests it´s about how confident we feel about our dancing abilities. In general, women are more dance-confident than men – but men tend to become more confident as they get older, while women lose some of the poise, especially after turning 50 years old. But then, how confident you are in your abilities does not necessarily correspond to actual skill.

Now, even if you are among those persons that do not like to dance or do not believe in your skills – here´s why you should do it anyway from time to time.

Researchers have found that “dancing is perceived to be a multidimensional activity that contributes positively to several aspects of human well-being”. In plain English, that means dancing:

  • lifts your mood by producing positive feelings and decreasing negative feelings at the same time.
  • boosts your immune system, thereby helping you to stay healthy.
  • fights stress by decreasing the concentration of the stress hormone cortisol in your blood.
  • improves your physical fitness, e.g., by fostering coordination, flexibility, and overall stamina.
  • helps you coping with pain.
  • improves your self-esteem and builds confidence.
  • And if you decide to dance in public, it has shown to be one of the most pleasurable social activities, helping you to connect to other people – which is one of the strongest well-being boosters in itself.

But that is not all there is to dancing. Here´s why you should put on your “dancing shoes” from time to time even when you’re at the office: There is empirical evidence that just five minutes of putting on some music and engaging in light dancing (with yourself) can markedly decrease fatigue. So when you hit that low energy level late in the afternoon and there´s still one meeting to go: shut your office door, put on one of your favorite tunes (I´m a heavy metal fanatic so it´d probably be some “Iron Maiden” for me…) and move (shake, twist, rock and roll, or head-bang …) that body. It´ll recharge your batteries and – according to research – do so better than other physical activities such as cycling on an exercise machine. But there is more.

Those five minutes of dancing will not only give you back some energy – they may also render you more creative. Research suggests that those five minutes of dancing will enhance your ability for divergent thinking (which is a subtype of creativity). In other words: dancing can help you to think out-of-the-box. So if you are struggling with a specific problem for quite some time: once again, it could be a very good idea to take your eyes off that computer screen or piece of paper – and move your behind. There´s a good chance that when you will return to your desk a solution will pop up in your head after a while.

To sum things up: Whether you feel you can or cannot dance – engaging in some booty-shaking can help to boost your mood, fight of stress, improve your health, make you more creative, and bring you closer to other people. And if you don´t believe me – maybe you´ll believe my 18 month old baby boy. This is how he grooves

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Nico Rose
Dr. Nico Rose is a German organizational psychologist. Recently, he was part of the 9th cohort of Penn´s Master of Applied Positive Psychology program (MAPP). In his day job, he´s Head of Employer Branding at Bertelsmann, Europe´s premier media corporation. Additionally, he works as a management coach and university lecturer. Nico has authored +40 professional articles and is a frequent interview partner for German magazines and online publications. Earlier, he worked for L’Oréal´s German branch. In 2012, his book “Lizenz zur Zufriedenheit” (License for Satisfaction) was published.
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