I’ve been living with terrible anxiety since I was a little girl. As I’ve grown older, I’ve tried a ton of remedies — yoga, coloring books, talk therapy, medication, meditation, mindfulness, massage therapy, aromatherapy and all the self-care and self-help books I could find. And I’ve got to be honest with you all, my dear blog readers — none of them hold a candle to tap dance.
I danced when I was young and tap was always my favorite class. Since I’m about to start grad school (as well as an intense internship), I decided to re-visit the great art of tap dance so I had some kind of physical outlet during this stressful period.
I’ve only been taking classes for a few weeks and it’s already done wonders for my anxiety. Here are 4 ways tap dance has helped me — and 4 reasons you should try it, too.
1. You get to let out all of your frustrations.
The whole crux of tap dancing is stomping your feet on the ground — which is incredibly cathartic for someone who’s dealing with intense anxiety or stress. You can physically release all the pent-up feelings that us anxious folks typically hold onto.
2. You really work up a sweat.
I really wasn’t anticipating this, but you get sweaty during a tap class. Why? Because it’s exercise. And as we all know, exercise is great for anxiety (and depression!). It releases endorphins and increases body temperature, which can have a calming effect. I’ve never been an exerciser; I hate running and don’t at all enjoy going to the gym. So it’s awesome to finally have some kind of work-out routine and get those health benefits from doing physical exercise.
3. It requires you to concentrate on something other than your anxiety.
Tap dance requires a lot of mental concentration; you have to think carefully about which part of your foot is hitting the floor on which count, how fast you’re transitioning from foot-to-foot, etc. It’s amazing to walk into a tap class and have all your worries melt away — mostly because there’s no room in your head, since you’re trying to get that combination down.
4. It’s a great way to meet people.
I moved to a new state almost a year ago and still haven’t met a ton of people (mostly because I work from home, running this blog you’re reading!). I can be shy around new people and don’t like putting myself out there, but tap class has been a great way to make friends in a low-stress environment. Everyone is there to have fun; we’re all beginners, so it’s not a competition; we laugh at ourselves when we mess up and cheer each other when we nail a step. It’s nice to have a little community.