There’s an old saying: Dance as if no one is watching.
It’s all there in seven short words: the key to happiness, to relieving stress, to finding inner peace. Ridding yourself of all that tension as you shed off this worst of all years.
What? You say you can’t dance? Don’t know how? Doesn’t matter. Crank the music – any music. Hell, it can even be “Baby Shark” – to 11 and let loose. Swing your arms, sway those hips, get those knees bouncing and your head bopping. Slide across the floor. Flip your hair. Shake your shoulders outta their sockets.
Don’t let those TikTok moves deter you. Don’t let anybody’s phone near you.
Dance as if no one is watching.
What, pray tell, if your kids are around?
They will love it, at least if they are under the age of, say, 10. Tweenies are likely to run out of the room in horror. Never mind.
At that point you are in the zone. You can already feel those muscles relaxing. Guarantee the wee ones will get on that kitchen-turned-dance floor with you. Watch the smiles on their faces when they see Mommy wiggling her butt. No more cranky two-year-old. They’re gettin’ jiggy wid’ it too.
season year can turn into a time of stress and depression if you let it. Especially for parents who feel they need to buy presents, decorate the home, make the perfect holiday meal, bake multiple cookies and get those cards – complete with the perfect family photo – mailed on time. On top of regular work. And Covid. And politics.
In short, ‘tis the season to learn the Joy of Singing Carols, and dancing and acting silly or you’ll go a little nutty.
There’s empirical evidence to back this up. Prof. Tom Shakespeare (yes, he can actually trace his roots back to that guy) and Dr. Alice Whieldon, both working at University of East Anglia, followed the group Sing Your Hearts Out for six months.
They found that people who took part in a community singing group maintained or improved their mental health. It turns out that a combination of singing and socializing promotes feelings of belonging and wellbeing.
What better reasons – aside from the fact that it’s actually fun – to organize family carolling? In this year of COVID-19, it’s not wise to go door-to-door, so print out the lyrics to your favourite Bing Crosby tunes and croon along. (My husband’s cousin is actually organizing a worldwide carolling via Zoom.)
Tilt your head back and belt out Jingle bells-Joy to the world!-I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus! Or, our family’s favourite: Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer!
When your body is full of music and the sounds vibrate from within, your soul smiles and the giggles start.
Try, just try, sitting still when you’re singing those songs with your kids.
So the dancing might begin again. Then come the hugs and laughs.
Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural “feel good” hormone. It also boosts the immune system by decreasing stress hormones in increasing infection-fighting antibodies. Imagine if we can link silliness to preventing SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Follow it up with lighting the next Advent candle, a snuggle-cuddle and a heartfelt rendition of O Tannenbaum or Silent Night to start calming everyone down.
After a warm cup of tea, tuck the kids into bed with visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads. Then draw that deserved relaxing scented bath – or you and your partner can start acting silly.
After all, ‘tis the season to be jolly.
By Alison Langley
Alison Langley sings and dances in the wilds of Graubünden. She’s pretty sure only the deer and lone wolf are watching.
Illustration by Laura Munteanu
Laura studied journalism and advertising and has worked as a journalist and an illustrator. She has illustrated for magazines, websites, charities and diverse campaigns. Laura also designs jewellery and has had her jewellery and art exhibited. She lives in Zurich with her husband and eleven-year-old daughter.