Conscious Dance as Medicine for Mental Health

June 6, 2023
Kristen Jackson Banister

Conscious Dance as Medicine for Mental Health

What if I told you that there’s a powerful medicine to treat anxiety, stress, loneliness and depression?  This medicine is all natural, has no unwanted side effects and you may actually enjoy it.  

With its emphasis on mindfulness, movement, and music, conscious dance has been found to have numerous benefits for mental health. In this blog post, we will explore the research-backed benefits of conscious dance and how it can positively impact our well-being.

  1. Reducing Anxiety and Stress:

Mindfulness meditation has long been recognized for its effectiveness in reducing anxiety. According to Keng et al. (2011), "Mindfulness meditation has been shown to be effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety by promoting non-judgmental awareness of present-moment experiences." By integrating mindfulness into movement, conscious dance provides a dynamic practice that enhances self-awareness and relaxation (Luberto et al., 2018). Engaging in conscious dance allows us to release stress, let go of worries, and connect deeply with the present moment.

  1. Alleviating Depression and Enhancing Well-being:

Depression can disconnect us from our bodies and the world around us. However, mindfulness-based interventions, such as conscious dance, have demonstrated positive effects in reducing symptoms of depression and improving overall well-being (Shallcross et al., 2015). Conscious dance empowers individuals to express themselves freely and connect with their emotions. Through the combination of movement, breath, and music, conscious dance becomes a transformative practice that can reignite joy and vitality in our lives.

  1. Boosting Mood and Building Resilience:

Exercise has long been recognized as a powerful mood booster. Engaging in conscious dance as a form of exercise triggers the release of endorphins, our body's natural feel-good chemicals. This, in turn, reduces stress hormones, leading to improved mood and decreased stress levels (Otto & Smits, 2011). Regular participation in conscious dance can also increase heart rate variability, which is associated with better stress management and increased resilience (Thayer et al., 2010). By moving our bodies and immersing ourselves in the present moment, we cultivate strength and resilience to face life's challenges.

  1. Fostering Connection and Reducing Loneliness:

Humans are social beings, and the sense of belonging plays a vital role in our mental well-being. Participating in group dance activities, like conscious dance, has been found to significantly reduce feelings of loneliness and enhance social connectedness (Cruz-Ferreira et al., 2016). Dancing with others in an inclusive environment creates a sense of community and shared experience. Furthermore, building relationships through dancing provides emotional support, reducing anxiety, depression, and stress (Cafri et al., 2017).

  1. Music as Therapy:

Music has an incredible power to influence our emotions and facilitate healing. Incorporating music into conscious dance can serve as a therapeutic tool, helping individuals process emotions and providing a creative outlet for self-expression and emotional release (Gold et al., 2009). The rhythmic and melodic qualities of music in conscious dance have a positive impact on the nervous system, promoting relaxation, reducing stress, and improving overall well-being (Thoma et al., 2013).

  1. Embodiment and Self-Trust:

Engaging in body-centered practices, such as conscious dance, allows us to cultivate a deeper connection with our bodies. By moving intentionally and mindfully, conscious dance reduces the experience of being afraid of sensations, promoting body acceptance and self-trust (Tylka et al., 2014). Through conscious dance, we develop a profound relationship with our bodies, fostering a sense of embodiment,  Through conscious dance, we develop a profound relationship with our bodies, fostering a sense of embodiment, self-awareness, and self-compassion (Hanna et al., 2019).

Conscious dance offers a powerful and transformative path to improving our mental health. Through its blend of mindfulness, movement, and music, it provides a holistic approach that nurtures our well-being on multiple levels. The research-supported benefits of conscious dance include reduced anxiety and stress, alleviated depression, boosted mood, enhanced resilience, and increased social connection. By embracing conscious dance, we embark on a journey of self-discovery, self-expression, and personal growth.  If you live in Tucson and you’d like to join me for a conscious dance, please check out  If you live in another city search for conscious dance to find gatherings near you.  I hope to see you on the dance floor soon!

About the Author

Kristen Jackson Banister is a psychotherapist specializing in Somatic Experiencing in Tucson, AZ.

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I acknowledge that I live and work on the ancestral lands of Tohono O'o'dham, Pascua Yaqui, and Apache peoples.