Dancer vs Exams - De-stress and achieve
"I've got my SATs exams coming up, I can't come to dance for the next week!"
"It's my GCSE English exam tomorrow, I need to stay home and revise!"
We're about to enter the main exam season of the year, with SAT's and GCSE's looming over dancers. Once the exams begin dance schools over the country will lose many children to revision ... and this is not a bad thing. Dancers, along with non-dancers, should aim to succeed in their exams. GCSE's are a vital point of future careers with English, Maths and Science grades influencing your job choice right into adulthood, however don't be overcome by the pressures and stresses of revision, revision, revision.
The PGL website states a fantastic motto "Active body, active mind" (PGL, 2016). It is known that exercising regularly can help the functioning your brain. This can then develop your cognitive learning. Allowing regular physical activities to continue during your busy exam schedule can also improve concentration and learning capacity, allowing the brain to absorb more information. PGL also mentions how exercise can be beneficial in other ways too; lowering stress levels, helping to relax the mind and the body, along with easing pressure and anxiousness ... oh and getting a good night sleep. After all your dance teacher might decide the night will be one of hard cardio and technique training.
Another key research study comes from the Daily Telegraph. At the age of 11, children who do an additional 17 minutes exercise to there allocated recommendation (60 minutes per day) are more likely to achieve one whole grade higher in their exams than what they would of (Paton, 2013). Now you may be asking how? Especially as that's over an hour a day from your revision books. During physical activity chemicals certain chemicals become active in the brain. The chemicals stimulated can then lead to academic improvements, expanding your capacity to retain information. Having a break will also encourage children to socialise and forget about the stresses from school, teachers, parents, siblings and peers. Children these days seemingly carry the weight on the world on their shoulders, especially during exam season, so the break and tension breaker may be what they need to boost their attention and then push harder in their exams gaining those higher marks.
Knowing you are in dance class for 3 hours on a Thursday but have an half hour break could be an ideal situation to take your notes with you and having a quick read, or get a friend to test you. Even if you have no break perhaps ask your teacher if "things" can be introduced in the class to help you remember certain dates, equations, key points etc or to even allow you a break to revise. Releasing tension from your body feels good, and when the body feels good the mind will follow. During activity endorphins are released, and for anyone who has seen Legally Blonde "Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t." (Legally Blonde, 2001, cited in Vogue, 2016). Although it's not indicating you go and shoot anyone, the idea of happiness can give you more stability and less stress. Further more, endorphins can become an aid for sleep, so sleepless nights due to stress could soon be avoided by taking up dancing (Stanila, 2016).
Another positive to dance is it allows an outlet to express yourselves and have a little 'me' time in a safe environment. Dance can help you connect to who you really are and have a break from who you want to be, or who people think you are. During school you may feel you need to conform with the people you spend your classes with, instead of being yourself and keeping your individuality. The NHS are also a believer that regular dancing can have a great effect on your mental health, mainly when it comes to beating stress (NHS, cited in IDS, 2017). Research has taken place extensively to see exactly what it is about dance which has such a positive effect on mental health, and it has been concluded that people find it hard sometimes to express themselves and their feelings, therefore dance can provide a chance to communicate whatever is being held inside (The Guardian, cited in IDS, 2017). Another conclusion comes from The Arts in Psychotherapy. They state in comparison to vigorous exercise or listening to music, dance has been proved as a greater reducer of stress, anxiety and depression.
So next time you are about to stay home from dance with an exam looming over you just think about the benefits you may be missing out on, same for the parents who are keeping their child house bound before the exam. Children been kept inside is the same as an animal being caged in the zoo ... stress, depression and anxiety. Allow your child to take a break and participate in some form of exercise. Tell them to go for a walk, go to a park, go shopping, just get out the house and burn off some of that building anxiety.
Stress it said to be a 'silent killer' and can cause heart distress and psychological distress (Stanila, 2016). The simple effects of avoiding this is simple, dance! As Stanila (2016) states "take a lesson from the Footloose gang and when in doubt, dance it out!"
IDS (2017) The benefits dancing has on mental health. Available online at https://www.ids.co.uk/blog/the-benefits-dancing-has-on-mental-health/
PGL (2016) Keep focused, stay fresh - the link between exercise and study. Available online at https://www.pgl.co.uk/en-gb/news-hub/news/keep-focused--stay-fresh?Action=1&PID=49547
Stanila, S. (2016) 3 ways dancing relieves stress. Available at http://www.arthurmurraydancenow.com/blog/3-ways-dancing-relieves-stress
The Telegraph (2013) Daily exercise 'can boost pupils' GCSE results by a grade'. Available at https://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/10394369/Daily-exercise-can-boost-pupils-GCSE-results-by-a-grade.html
Vogue (2016) Legally Blonde Quotes. Available at http://www.vogue.co.uk/gallery/legally-blonde-elle-woods-best-quotes