Droop your face, slump your shoulders, lower your chin to your chest and let your arms hang limply at your side. While holding that pose, say “I feel great, I feel wonderful, I am happy!” How’d that work for you?
If you want to go above and beyond in your personal research, take on a joyful and open body position, and try feeling sad or scared. The way we hold our bodies affects the emotions we feel, often just as much as the emotions we feel affect the way we hold our bodies. Its true-there’s a TED Talk all about it.
At Tanner Dance, our children and teens get the opportunity to move their bodies in powerful, joyful, and open ways. Each summer, Tanner Dance puts on a special summer camp, just for the kids and teens in emergency shelter with Salt Lake County Youth Services. During the school year, we visit once a week for an hour long lesson at their beautiful dance studio.
We jump and roll and stomp to the beat. We clap and tip toe and slap the floor. We practice hip hop moves and pretend to be animals. We quietly notice the world around us. We write “I Am” poems and decorate plaster masks formed over our actual faces, so they really fit. And amid all the spilled paint, snack breaks, and ruckus of movement and experimentation, something beautiful can happen: kids and teens whose bodies know all too well the perils of abuse and neglect get to practice feeling safe, seen, and celebrated.
Not every kid, and especially not every teen, is bursting with excitement to participate at first. It can be scary to move in new ways, and it’s a very vulnerable thing to drop the ‘cool’ act and settle into the moment for a while for our teens. Rachel Kimball and the teachers who work with her at Tanner Dance do a beautiful job of creating safe, inviting space for our teens and kids to blossom in. They support every timid attempt at participation, and by the end of a lesson, our kids and teens are feeling at minimum, a lower level of stress, and at best, a new found sense of courage and self-efficacy.
Here at Salt Lake County Youth Services, we are grateful to be able to partner with Tanner Dance, which is full of professional and compassionate people, ready to help EVERY child and teen access the exciting feelings that come with self-expression through movement, art, and music.
Feeling a little stressed as school schedules are bumping into summer habits? Try turning up the radio to your favorite tune, and give yourself the length of the song to dance like you just don’t care in your kitchen or living room. You may be surprised at how much better you feel afterwards.
Want to learn more about the important correlation between our bodies and our emotions? Check out Bessel van der Kolk’s best seller: The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma.
Working with significant or chronic stress? Give us a call at 385-468-4500. We are here to help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.