Hi lovely readers. It’s been a minute. February was a very busy month, with three shows, and lots of big changes in my personal life. This post is to highlight some of that. However, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a need to raise awareness about mental health and suicide rates – which at desparate times like these – begin to rise. People are laid off, can’t feed their families or pay their bills… anyone struggling with their mental health could be negatively impacted by this pandemic in a very bad way.
As someone who has struggled with her mental health throughout her life, I find the need to spread some positivity during this crisis, and let you all know about some cool things the NYC dance company I dance for did back in February. At the end here, I also want to give you some suggestions on movement-based activities you can do while you are quarantined and/or if you are struggling with your mental health and being stuck inside is driving you insane.
I currently dance for Borne Dance Company, which is a New York City based dance company who’s mission is to bring awareness to mental health and destigmatize eating disorders. The last week in February is the National Eating Disorder Association’s (NEDA) National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. Borne Dance Company celebrates the end of our season with a showcase during Eating Disorder Awareness Week. We host other artists, singers, performers, dancers, poets, and musicians who gather to play a show.
Admission to the show was donation-based, and 80% of the proceeds were donated directly to NEDA after our show weekend was over. This year, Borne performed a new 25 minute piece titled “Bound“, which explored themes of isolation, and showcased the negative thoughts and coping mechanisms we hang onto as people.
The work was well-received, and we generated a lot of donation money through everyone’s generous donations. It was such a special day, and one of those full-circle life moments for me. Eight years ago when I was sick with anorexia, I never thought I’d be dancing professionally in NYC, let alone in a show with a company that cares so deeply about raising awareness about eating disorders.
This all being said, it is always important to check-in on your friends, family, and loved ones all times of the year. Especially now, however, during this crisis, we need to keep checking in with those in our lives who are struggling, were struggling, or who we suspect might be struggling. Not just check-in on their physical health, but check-in on their mental health. Ask how their feeling, and if the answer is not positive, offer ways you can be there for them. Phone calls, video chats, text messaging – any way you can extend a shoulder to cry on or a listening ear, do it. It could save their life.
90% of the stimulation and nutrition to the brain is generated by movement of the spineDr. Roger Sperry
Now if you yourself are not feeling your best, or you want to find ways to help someone you love feel better, here is a list of ways to use movement to improve your mental health during this time of isolation and quarantine. Dr. Roger Sperry says 90% of the stimulation and nutrition to the brain is generated by movement of the spine, so staying active and mobile during this time is crucial for maintaining positive mental health. Here are some fun movement activities you can do solo or with a friend/partner (maintaining social distance of course) that could help increase/maintain your mental health.
- Exercise! Schedule specific times during the day or throughout the week dedicated solely to moving your body. Whether you find a yoga routine online, an at-home HIIT workout, or some cardio – find time to keep your body engaged throughout the week!
- Dance party! Maybe you’re cleaning the house, or maybe you’re really stressed and tight from sitting at your home computer and working from home. Turn on your favorite tunes and start grooving! Even if for five minutes! Dance like nobody’s watching, or have your family members join you! I bet you will be smiling within the first two minutes. Dancing increases blood flow, and seratonin (the happy hormone!) levels!
- Stretch! Ok dance and exercise isn’t your thing? Maybe Google some light stretching exercises you can do at home to stimulate blood flow, and let your muscles lengthen gently! It’s amazing what a little bit of light stretching can do to improve your mood, and how you feel physically.
- Play with a ball! If you have children, or a partner or roommate, take five minutes and just toss a ball back and forth to each other. You don’t have to have a lot of skill to do this, and it will get your blood flowing and you can even wear latex gloves so you don’t have to physically touch the ball! Don’t have a partner? Play fetch with a pet OR play wall-ball where a wall is your surface to pass from!
- Play with your pets! If you are a pet owner, you can take your dogs for a walk, or cuddle or play with your cats, hamsters, bunnies, etc.! Pets are the best for comfort, and they are an amazing excuse to go outside and talk a calm walk down the street 🙂
- Create! If you are an artist, dancer, or person who can’t sit still, try creating a dance or movement flow organically. Take some time to move and create, just like you would sit and create a painting, craft or song! You can keep it private, or show it online/to friends or family (following pandemic guidelines of course). You might surprise yourself with your creativity and what you will make!
These are just a few simple ways you can use movement to improve your own state of mental health, or help engage a family member or friend who might be struggling at this time. So much healing can come from simply moving your body, and it will also help pass the time while we wait for equillibrium and health to return to our society.
Thank you for reading, and I hope this post brought some positivity into your morning, afternoon, or evening (whenever this post reaches you!). Stay positive, healthy, and moving my friends! I hope to connect more soon.