Athletes are top performers in their chosen specialty. They prime themselves in the art and trade of a sport. Dancers are such athletes along with anyone who engages in an activity, striving for success. This means businesspersons, artists, and parents are engaging in improved performance attainment. The term athlete only implies the physical exertion and expression related to a trade. When one engages in the act of seeking success and performance, an environment for stress is created. Many people today are stressed past the point of diminishing returns. This means that some stress is good for growth but in excess, creates a space where disease and anxiety can grow. In a recent study, researchers studied the effects of ballroom dance competitions on the levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) in dancers. They found that during times of “perceived” increased performance pressure (as in a competition), levels of cortisol increased causing risk of lowered performance and health. Additionally, they note that during times of no stress (such as dancing for fun) levels of cortisol dramatically decrease (Strahler & Luft, 2019). Therefore, dancing for fun is a great way to reduce stress.
What does this mean for me?
- What we perceive is the foundation of how we experience the events in our lives.
- If we can identify when we are stressed, we can start to remedy ourselves.
- Using awareness and management, we can increase our performance in any task.
Tips to combat stress:
- Identify what stress is for you (or looks like) and tag events that can trigger increased tension in the mind and body.
- Once identified, accept the moment as a possible stressor and watch what happens to you and in you.
- Keep what serves you and release what does not.
Ballroom dancing (or any sport or expression) is an activity that can be wonderful for the soul, but in excess, can cause pain. Those who are engaging in performance activities, whether it be sports related, personal, or professional, have an increased chance of elevating the levels of stress hormones in their body causing a cascading aftermath of anxiety, tension, and impairment. However, this case is only present when we perceive our activity is stressful. Thus, the moral of this post is that we must reframe our view of how we see the world around us. In order to do this, we must first understand who we are, what we believe, and how we are feeling. If you are healthy or stressed, we encourage you to become hypersensitive to your experience. Afterall, our experience is ours alone. No one else can have the same understanding.
Strahler, J., & Luft, C. (2019). “N‐of‐1”—Study: A concept of acute and chronic stress research using the example of ballroom dancing. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports. doi: 10.1111/sms.13417