How dance helped my mental health recover

  • 3 min read
  • 31 January 2019

Author: Elsa

Topics mentioned: self-care, bullying, self-esteem

About: When Elsa was struggling with her mental health and being bullied, it left her feeling worthless. However, she found that through her love of dancing she was able express how she felt, improve her mental health and gain self-confidence.

I never thought after losing my passion for years that I would find it again during the most difficult time of my life.

When I was struggling with my mental health, I found overcoming those struggles a battle. I battled with myself for a long time after being knocked down by bullying and I didn’t see myself getting back up again.

Being bullied knocked my confidence and made me feel worthless. I honestly didn’t see a very bright future for myself. But something changed for me.

A love of dance

I have always loved to dance from a young age, starting ballet and tap at the age of three and dreaming of being a ballerina. But this was always just a childhood dream. I never thought after losing my passion for years that I would find it again during the most difficult time of my life.

I never liked dance from year seven to year nine (we studied it at school as a compulsory lesson), and I couldn’t wait to get rid of it. When I started secondary school it was a lot easier to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others and I always feared being judged. But at the end of year nine I decided to join our school's dance club and ended up taking dance at GCSE, which was definitely the best decision I made.

I suddenly felt in control of my feelings.

A difficult transition

Going into GCSEs was a difficult transition for me and coming out of a difficult year made it even harder. Year ten wasn’t too much easier, but I started therapy after things became too much and I was struggling with everyday life. My motivation dropped a lot and my world continued to get darker.

But having dance classes to go to every day gave me something to focus on. It was a place where I could let go and express myself. My love of dance only grew throughout year ten and 11, helping me through the exam stress and overcoming battles with myself. I suddenly felt in control of my feelings and finally felt like I had some sort of connection with myself in the dance studio.

Dance helped me feel more able to communicate with others.

A new perspective

I would encourage anyone struggling with their mental health to find something they can do that they enjoy and can express themselves through. Sometimes talking can be really hard, and it’s such a difficult first step to take.

But I know that dance helped me feel more able to communicate with others about how I was feeling and accept help rather than resist it. It changed my whole perspective on life and allowed me to reach a brighter future, which I am thoroughly enjoying.

Creativity isn’t limited and creative subjects like the performing arts really do have an enormous amount of power to help us change our perspectives on life.

Give yourself time

You can overcome your mental health struggles, but please don’t put pressure on yourself if you’re struggling to express yourself through words. There are so many things that can help you overcome difficulties in your life.

This passion might be clear for some people and more hidden for others, but it is there. The words will come…you just have to give them time.

Please don’t put pressure on yourself if you’re struggling to express yourself through words.

More information and advice

We have tips and advice to help you find the support you need. Take a look at our guides.

Where to get help

However you're feeling, there are people who can help you if you are struggling. Here are some services that can support you.

  • The Mix

    Free, short-term online counselling for young people aged 25 or under. Their website also provides lots of information and advice about mental health and wellbeing. 

    Email support is available via their online contact form.

    They have a free 1-2-1 webchat service available during opening hours.

    Opening times:
    4pm - 11pm, Monday - Friday
  • Childline

    If you’re under 19 you can confidentially call, chat online or email about any problem big or small.

    Sign up for a free Childline locker (real name or email address not needed) to use their free 1-2-1 counsellor chat and email support service.

    Can provide a BSL interpreter if you are deaf or hearing-impaired.

    Hosts online message boards where you can share your experiences, have fun and get support from other young people in similar situations.

    Opening times:
  • Youth Access

    Provides information about local counselling and advice services for young people aged 11-25.

    Put in your location and what you need help with into their 'Find help' search, and see what services are available in your area.

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