Saturday, March 29, 2014

How To Be Happy #1: Music and Dancing

Have you ever had "one of those days" and just needed a pick me up? A lot of those days, I find myself turning to my favorite music to give me an energy boost or an emotional outlet for what I'm feeling. I really feel connected to artists, their music, and their lyrics. It is a great outlet for me and my anxiety. It always has been. Take today, for example. I was feeling quite "off" and tired after taking a nap this afternoon. I needed a "pick-me-up," so I put on an up-beat song that I love (Casey Abrams "Simple Life") and had a short little jam-out fest on the couch.

Throughout my life, I have always been a dancer. I've danced since I was two years old. Dancing has always been a way for me to put my emotions and my anxiety out on the table in an honest, yet safe way. I could leave my emotions out on the floor, feel what the music made me feel, spend all my energy out there, and I didn't have to tell anyone why I was so emotional during my dance. Why could I leave everything out on the stage? That's who dancers are. I truly did feel the dance and the music, but it was what was behind the music that really gave me that push to dance with so much feeling and emotion.

When you're dancing, you're telling a story, speaking with your body. You want your audience to feel what you're feeling, to understand what you're saying, to hang on your every movement. You become a good storyteller. You learn to become vulnerable emotionally. It's funny that I could always be this way through dance, but not in real face-to-face life all the time. It's so much harder for me. Dancing is my comfort zone. Maybe because I can become someone else when I dance and just tell people a story. It doesn't necessarily have to be my story. I just use what I know to pull from when I dance. 

Dance has always been a HUGE outlet for me. It still is in different ways. I don't dance as extensively as I used to. I don't really do ballet anymore, expect some barre work I do at home every now and then. I Zumba. I salsa. I hustle. I just started to waltz. I hip hop. I dance while I cook.

But the other huge part of my emotional release that goes along with dancing is music. I remember sitting in my room as a teenager and listening to all kinds of different music. Even when I was little. I would record songs off the radio and make mix tapes. I would put different music on, depending on how I felt at the time. I was really into Broadway music when I was younger. I just loved the stories, the rawness, of human lives, of the stories the Broadway shows told. My favorite was always Miss Saigon.

To this day, music and dancing are still a huge part of my life. Listening to good music on the way to work can put me in a good mood for the day. When I'm sad, listening to songs that touch my heart and soul really help me to work through my emotions. At school, my students and I listen to all kinds of music while they work, depending on their mood that day.

Jazz Hands

Without dance and music, I don't know where I'd be because they both are a huge part of my life. They keep be centered and balanced. They help me keep in touch with my emotions. They keep me sane. 

Working out (dancing) helps to keep my anxiety at bay. Belting out a great tune in the car can get my mind off of my OCD loop. 

One of my strategies for lowering my anxiety is to close my eyes while listening to a song and choreograph a dance to that song in my head. In that moment, I am not thinking about anything about the feel of the music, the words in the music, and myself dancing in my head. It really works. It takes my mind off whatever is, at the time, plaguing my anxiety.

I'd like to share with you some songs that I love to listen to in different situations. No matter how I'm feeling, listening to music makes me happy.

If I'm having a low key day and am just feeling like I need to release some sadness or anxiety or I am tired from dealing with anxiety, I tend to play low-key music. Quiet, calming muisc, sometimes with deep lyrics. Contemplating music. Here are a few I've been listening too lately:

Contemplating Music:

Birdy, "Winter Hymnal"

R.E.M, "Daysleeper"

Rufus Wainwright, "Poses"

Suzie McNeil, "Broken and Beautiful"

Amos Lee, "Arms of a Woman"

Harry Connick Jr., "Hear Me in the Harmony"

If I need a boost of energy, I play some high energy, uplifting, upbeat or happy music. Sometimes it's not uplifting either. It can be angry music that just makes me feel ready to tackle the day too! Here are a few I've been listening too lately:

Upbeat Music

V V Brown, "Shark in the Water"

Beyonce, "Countdown"

Sara Bareilles, "Brave"

ZZ Ward, "Til the Casket Drops"

Paul Simon, "You Can Call Me Al"

Do you have any songs that you've been listening to lately that either help give you energy or help you work through your emotions? If so, leave a comment below! I <3 comments!!

Love and happiness <3 Holly


  1. Great post! Music has always been therapeutic for me as well. I have found it useful in not only lifting my spirits, when I am down, but releasing toxic emotions as well. When I am hurt, angry, lonely, or whatever, I can simply blast a song that emulates that feeling. Then I sing (horribly ;P) with all of my emotion behind it. Usually, once I get it out, I am good. ;)

    1. Kitty, me too! I agree! I also agree it's great for not only lifting my spirits, but also releasing toxic emotions. That's a great way to put it! I sing horribly as well! But it makes me feel so great!! Have a you been listening to any favorites lately? Thanks for stopping by!! <3 Holly


Thanks for commenting! Comments are one thing on my happy list! Hearing from you makes me smile :)