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 Mighty readers — none of them hold a candle to tap dance for me.
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 four ways tap dance has helped me — and four reasons I think 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. I 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 really sweaty during a tap class. Why? Because it’s a pretty intense cardiovascular exercise. And as we all know, exercise can be help with anxiety (and depression!). 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 my worries melt away — mostly because there’s no room in my head, since I’m trying to get that combination down.
4. It’s a great way to meet people (but not in a scary way).
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.