Body Positivity: How To Love Yourself A Little More

In today’s world, it is too easy to become body conscious and overly focused on weight, or other aspects of our bodies. Yet maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including keeping our bodies healthy, is important to wellbeing. And a desire to improve and be the best version of ourselves is ok too; in fact I would say it is a good thing! So how can we strike that balance of striving to make changes, which may or may not include weight loss, yet remain body positive at the same time? And how do we empower those around us, such as our children, to love their body too? Here are some tips to becoming more body positive…

Title Body Positivity: How To Love Yourself A Little More with image of 3 people jumping for joy on a beach

Attitude Makes All The Difference

First of all, as with anything, your outlook on the subject makes all the difference. So you need to shift your focus! For every negative thought, you need to think of at least five positive things about your body. It is about reframing how you think, and therefore feel, about yourself. Look in the mirror and really pay attention to all the good things about your body. If those critical thoughts creep in, accept them and move on. Switch back to what aspects of your appearance you do like. If you can’t find anything, you aren’t looking hard enough!

To empower yourself and those around you, especially if you have children around listening to you, stop telling yourself, or anyone else, that you need to lose weight, are too fat, don’t look good in those clothes, hate this part of your body, or that part… the list goes on… you get the idea. It is ok to want to improve ourselves but the attitude and approach we have to that makes a difference. The messages we tell ourselves, and each other, on a daily basis matters!

A photo of two women supporting each other while working out together. Women empowering each other.

Embrace Your Flaws

The way we think about our flaws and are least favourite parts is important too. Remember nobody is perfect. As they say, even those stunning supermodels don’t actually look like that in real life! We all have wobbly bits and that is ok, we don’t need to strive for perfection. Try to adopt realistic thoughts about your own body and accept your imperfections, embrace it for what it is.

Body Confidence: Be Comfortable

Wear clothes that help you to feel comfortable. Whether you prefer to dress up, be casual, stand out, or blend in; just be yourself and wear what feels good for you. Body confidence is not about dressing a certain way; it is about dressing the way you choose.

For those who menstruate, remember to love your body during your periods too! Again, wear whatever feels comfortable for you personally, such as Knixteen products for example. Also make sure periods are not a taboo subject in your household! Too many previous generations were given the impression that it is something to be embarrassed of; teach your children that it is a normal part of life and entirely natural. Body positivity needs to apply to all stages of our menstrual cycles!

Silhouette of two women doing yoga outdoors

What About Self- Improvement Then?

It is not contradictory to want to lose weight, or improve our appearance in some way. We can be positive and accepting of our bodies exactly the way they are, yet still want to improve ourselves too. It just comes down to how we think about it. Approaching it from a place of loving your body and therefore wanting to be healthy and feel even better is very different to wanting to lose weight, for example, because we hate our body and feel ‘fat’. Again, attitude makes all the difference!

What do YOU love about YOUR body? What are your top tips for becoming more body confident? Share some love in comments!

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Strategies To Help Children Who Procrastinate

“Not now” and “later on” are common things that a household with older children or teenagers will hear. It could be relating to homework, chores, or just general helping around the house. And in many ways, it can be completely normal. Even us as parents can put off the less than desirable tasks as we have other things to do instead or don’t have the energy right then and there to do them. What is important is noticing if you or your child are an occasional delayer, or if you or they are a proper procrastinator and do so because of an underlying issue. Dealing with children that delay tasks for either reason can be a challenge, but knowing the difference and why your child does it can be even more of a challenge.

The thing is, if children are delaying these kinds of thing at home; by simply not starting them with enough time, not completing them, or not even bothering with them, it can cause them some challenges in life. It can mean lower grades, less freedom due to parental punishments, or the inability to take part in extracurricular activities.

A group of teenagers chatting happily

Some reasons why they will put doing things off could be:

• Boredom or lack of interest

• Poor time management

• Lack of self-discipline

• Lack of empathy and seeing the relevance of the task to them

• Fear of failure or anxiety

As parents, we need to identify why it might be that our children are putting off doing certain things, or just not wanting to do them at all. Do any of these reasons resonate with you? If so, then it is a good idea to intervene. Here are some ways that you can help your child to be more focused and productive…

Use Your Experiences to Share and Relate

Whether our children like it or not, we have been there and done that, so to speak, and can share some of our life experiences. You could talk about how to become a productive student and what changes you had to make when you went off to University, for example. You could share what you struggled with as you were growing up and what you learned, or strategies that helped.

Clarify Your Expectations

If your child puts things off because of anxiety or the perceived thought of failure, then make sure you are clear in what you expect of them. You are highly likely not expecting perfection; so let them know. Focus on the effort it takes to do something, rather than the end product, or the score, or grade.

Help Teach Problem Solving

Children with anxiety will be likely to make a small situation much bigger than it is, in their head. If they perceive failing at a certain task before they’ve even done it, then it could mean to them that they’ll instantly be punished or become unpopular. The scenario is not likely to happen, but the thought that it could might well be enough to put them off. Help your child to do some rational thinking about this and sometimes even talking about worse case scenarios will make them see it is not that bad. Also help problem solving skills and confidence by starting with smaller, more manageable tasks. You can also teach relaxation skills too.

If Anxiety Gets Too Much

If your child has anxiety, it is important to be understanding and support them in beating their anxiety, using approaches that help them feel able to do whatever it is they are trying to achieve. Gentle nudges out of their comfort zone without making it too overwhelming tends to be effective. If their anxiety becomes unmanageable, CBT and/ or self- help strategies can sometimes be very effective. If it gets to a point where anxiety is significantly affecting daily functioning though, please ensure you seek professional help asap.

*This is a collaborative post.

International Day of Happiness

Today, 20th March, is International Day of Happiness. This year’s theme is Share Happiness – focusing on the importance of relationships, kindness and helping each other.

I created this reminder of actions we can take to help ourselves, and others, to feel good…

International Day of Happiness infographic

This was inspired by ideas from the Action for Happiness website, which has plenty of other ideas and resources too. I printed off some of my favourites for us to display at home…

Squiggle reading our Action for Happiness, International Day of Happiness display

Action for Happiness, International Day of Happiness display

Squiggle also wrote her own message too…

International Day of Happiness message from Squiggle

International Day of Happiness message by Squiggle

What will you do today for International Day of Happiness? Leave me a comment!

4 Ways to Eat Healthy While Traveling: Guest Post by Noor Najam – Pateeri

Traveling for most of the people is fun and relaxation which is why they tend to keep no boundaries. They would eat whatever comes their way and even skip meals in all the hassle. The thing we do not realize is that the unhealthy eating habits that we develop during the trip go a long way with us. Not only that, unhealthy and unrestricted eating also leaves us falling sick or too weak by the end of the trip. And then we wonder why it happened. If you truly want to stay active and healthy throughout your travel, eat healthy and make healthy choices only. The question probably is how?! Fret not! Here is your answer…

4 Ways to Eat Healthy While Traveling title on faded background image of a table full of a healthy breakfast buffet

Satiate Cravings with Healthy Snacks
When you are in motion constantly with tons of luggage to carry, it is normal to have unnecessary cravings throughout the day. Before you quickly reach out for a chocolate bar, a pack of chips or a sugary drink, stop and think! Do you have a healthier alternative that you can go for? Yes, you always do and yet you ignore it thinking that you are on a vacation and you can eat as you please. Remember that you have to pay a higher cost for it now and later both.
There are tons of healthy snacks out there which are not only healthy but delicious as well. Popcorns, sweet corns, dry fruits and fruits like oranges, bananas and apples are a few great examples. Similarly, you can drink a glass of fresh juice instead of getting a sugary soda.

Do Not Skip Breakfast
You may skip a meal or two but never skip breakfast. It does not only help in kick-starting your day but that is when you need the most energy to stay filled and active throughout the day. If you want to prevent unnecessary cravings and weakness, eat a very healthy breakfast full of protein and fiber. Take oats, eggs, yogurt and brown bread. Also, you must take an apple every morning as it is rich in fiber and iron and it will keep you satiated throughout the day.

More Sweat, More Water
All the hassle we face while travelling leaves us feeling dehydrated. The interesting part is that we do not even realize what is wrong when we feel low and out of energy. It is dehydration that gets most of us sick by the middle or end of our trip. If you want to stay hydrated and remember drinking enough water, just keep a water bottle with you wherever you go. Also, add a few slices of lemon, mint or chia seeds to add more flavor and healthy features to your plain water.

Empty Hotel Fridge for Controlling Temptation
We all know how hotel rooms have fridge full of chocolate bars and sodas that are too tempting to keep your hands off. If you truly want to avoid them and stay on track with your healthy diet, ask the management to empty it. You can then use it for stocking your own healthy snacks and items that you really need to stick to.

About the author

A photo of guest blogger Noor Najam standing outdoorsNoor Najam is a 22-year old student who loves to explore food delights and ever-growing new tastes of different regions. She likes to stay fit and make healthier food choices. She thinks she should have studied a culinary related bachelor’s degree instead of her current bachelors in Social Sciences. She regularly posts on pateeri.com

How To Set Yourself Achievable Goals

Whether you’re looking to implement big change in your life, or just looking to make small steps towards being a better version of yourself, setting goals is paramount. However, there’s a difference between setting achievable goals and giving yourself unattainable targets. Ambition is an enviable trait – and ensuring your hard work leads to accomplishments is the reason behind goal setting. So, how do you create achievable goals for yourself, and ensure you see them through to their conclusion?

How To Set Yourself Achievable Goals title with faded tape measures image

Set targets to reach your goal
It doesn’t make a difference whether you’re chasing one or numerous goals – getting started will always be the most difficult part. It can be a daunting proposition, looking at the goals you’ve written down and wondering how you’re going to achieve them. For this reason, it’s recommended that you split your goals into further micro-goals, or targets. This way, you can start small and build on those early successes. Once you get started, you’ll soon find that the psychological benefit of completing each of these smaller targets toward your goals drives further determination.

Create detailed and specific targets to meet your goals
It’s important to clearly understand what you need to do. The more information you can include, the easier it will be to follow. A specific target gives you more focus. One commonly used example of this is if you’re planning to save money. Rather than ‘save £2,000’, incorporate more detail to keep your eyes on the goal: ‘save £2,000 for home renovations’. Then set the specific targets: ‘save £600 for new hardwood flooring, £1000 for new kitchen units, and £400 for re-painting the whole house’. The added detail and smaller target totals make it more achievable, whilst keeping you focused on why you’re saving.

A desk with planners, notebooks and organisers

Give yourself a timeframe
Further adding to the emphasis on detail, giving your goals a specific timeframe is an important factor in motivation and accomplishing targets. They also encourage action. Take, for example, a ‘flash sale’ email from your favourite brand, telling you that you can get an unmissable offer if you buy within the next 24 hours. The likelihood is that most of us have been persuaded by this before, and this is because the time-bound offer triggers a psychological reaction. Setting yourself timeframes for your goals works in a similar way. If you know you’ve only got a certain amount of days to achieve, you’ll be spurred on to put in the work. If your target is open-ended, it can easily fall to the bottom of the pile.

Put them down on paper
Having your targets written down provides you with something to refer back to. If you’re lacking in motivation, look back at your goals and remember why you set them in the first place. Seeing them in black and white makes the goals feel real, and helps to keep you focused one step at a time. Keeping them at the front of your mind allows you to focus on the bigger picture.

Lost sight of your goal and missed your targets? Don’t beat yourself up, or let it slip back further. Remind yourself of your next targets and review/ amend them if they feel too unrealistic. Focus on achieving the targets one at a time with your eye on the end goal you’ve set yourself and get back on track. Without these constant reminders it’s easy to let goals slip, which is a definite no-no. Start with a simple list, then edit and grow as required.

Make your goals realistic
Arguably the most important aspect of setting yourself goals: make them realistic. If your goal isn’t attainable, why set it in the first place? It’s a slippery slope when you become over-ambitious. Confidence is crucial, there’s no doubting that, but if you aim too high you risk knocking this confidence and subsequently giving up. Simply put, it can do more harm than good. Start off small and, once you have more experience, you can aim bigger and better. Many people set end-goals and put too much focus on getting there. It’s easy to forget that the journey is where you learn and develop. Whether it’s professionally or as a person, never take your journey for granted. Celebrate each target reached!

Weight lifting

Measure Your Progress
This is an obvious one, but it’s easy to forget if you’ve got multiple goals to track at once. Measuring your progress is important for many reasons. It helps keep you motivated – if you’ve lost weight for example, you’re more likely to feel confident on your progress and continue to work hard. If you’ve not hit targets, you know you need to put in more work in order to achieve your goal within the set timeframe. There are hundreds of tracking templates for almost anything, all you have to do is a quick Google search. Keep track of how you’re performing, and adjust your plan to make sure you accomplish what you need to.

Take accountability
There’s nobody else you can blame for your failures (or your successes) other than yourself. You’re responsible for whether your goals are accomplished or not. Others may be responsible for minor setbacks, but your overall success is down to you. Hold yourself accountable and work hard to achieve your goals!

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

7 Simple Ways to Make Your Meals Healthier: Guest Post by Petra – Be Healthy Now

Spring is just around the corner and while everybody is thinking about spring cleaning, I’ve been thinking about what I can do to ‘spring clean’ my diet. I’ve already started reducing a number of sweet treats I have weekly and this has already helped me drop a few pounds.

If you are looking to ‘spring clean’ your diet, reducing your sugar intake is just one thing you can do. There is much more of course and here I share with you seven simple ways you can make your meals healthier to have a healthier start of the spring…

7 Simple Ways to Make Your Meals Healthier title on background image of table with healthy food in wooden bowls

Eat More Raw Fruit and Vegetables

By eating more raw fruits and vegetables you’ll be filling your diet with anti-ageing antioxidants, various minerals and enzymes that your body will love, boosting digestion and fighting chronic disease. Try and add fruit or vegetables to every meal you have. I add blueberries to my porridge or muesli every day and I always have a fresh salad with my meals.

An image of a selection of healthy nutrious food

Cut Back on Junk Food

Eating fast food on a regular basis can lead to obesity due to the number of calories and amount of fat in fast-food meals. Not to mention the additional problems that this type of food can cause like high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Replacing junk food with healthier options may not be easy to start with but it is possible, all you need is some determination and willpower. I would recommend you start by exploring healthier alternatives to the junk food you currently eat.

For example, could you replace French fries with roast potatoes? Or could you find a healthier ready-made meal in a supermarket? Most of the supermarkets these days have quite a good selection of (almost) healthy ready meals which I believe some people may want to turn to when they are busy.

The more healthy food you eat, the less appetite you will have for junk food.

An image of take out pizzas and cans of coke

Cut Out the Dairy

Did you know that countries where people drink a lot of milk also have the highest rates of osteoporosis? Milk is not as good for you as you may have thought and it’s definitely not the best source of calcium.

And did you know that milk is full of hormones, puss and antibiotics? If you drink it, it’s time to cut back and go for healthier options such as almond milk, rice or oat milk.

If you are worried about your calcium intake you can easily add some calcium-rich kale to your salads. You can also find calcium in other foods such as sardines, pulses, dried figs, almonds, sesame seeds (tahini) and even baobab powder.

Reduce Meat Consumption

There is a number of reasons why you may want to reduce consumption of meat but the main one is definitely your health – that’s because eating less meat is associated with a decreased risk of heart disease and cancer (although it will also help you save money!).

Try and replace minced beef with lentils for example, or instead of having a beef burger, swap it out for a bean burger – this will provide you with way more nourishment, fibre and vitamins.

Use Whole Grains

Whole grains are grains in their unprocessed form. That means that they still contain all of the parts of the original kernel including the outer layer (the bran).

Eating more whole grains helps you consume more fibre and improve your digestion but it also helps to lower cholesterol. In addition to that, whole grains make you feel fuller than refined grains and this could help you keep your portions under control and maintain a healthy weight.

Switching from refined grains to whole grains is really easy – just ditch white rice and white pasta and replace them with brown rice and whole wheat pasta. Try other whole grains as well such as quinoa and buckwheat.

An image of a spoonful of grains

Use a Steamer Instead of Frying, Boiling or Roasting

Steamers are great to soften up your vegetables while still keeping the crunchy texture and preserving their valuable nutrients. Steaming your food is one of the healthiest ways of cooking and doing that will make your meals super healthy.

Use Healthier Cooking Oils

Do you still use sunflower oil as your main oil for cooking? If the answer is yes, it’s time to consider something else! Rapeseed oil, for example, contains half less saturated fat than sunflower oil and this is the oil I personally use for shallow frying and roasting.

When buying rapeseed oil make sure you go for the one which is cold-pressed as opposed to the refined rapeseed oil which is not much better than sunflower oil.

Another oil which you may want to consider for cooking is avocado oil. This has a high smoke point and you can also use it in salad dressings.

An image of oil being poured into a bowl

Author Bio:
Petra Kravos is a healthy lifestyle blogger who runs one of the top UK’s health blogs, Be Healthy Now. Petra is very passionate about health and loves helping people on their healthy living journey. On her health blog you will find a variety of topics, from natural health and healthy eating to fitness, Petra covers it all. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

An Open Letter To Anyone Who Struggled This Mothers Day

If you follow me on any of my social media channels, you will perhaps have already seen the Mothers Day post I wrote first thing yesterday morning. But incase you missed it, here it is…

Happy Mothers Day ❤

I know today is not always the happy day that it is sometimes expected to be. For alot of SEND parents, for example, it can be quite the opposite; the ‘demand’ (even if only perceived, not an actual expectation), the anxiety of ‘getting it right’, the change from the norm – all of it can lead to a difficult day for everyone.

Or maybe you are dealing with a bereavement. Or your family just isn’t around. There are so many reasons why today might be tough…

So whether there is a specific reason… or your kid simply decides that today is THE day to get out of the wrong side of bed and throw the most epic of tantrums ALL DAMN DAY… this post is for you. To all the mummas who feel sad, or frustrated, or under- appreciated right now; I am here to tell you that you rock! And it’s okay not to feel okay. Today or any other day.

May your rain lead to rainbows and may tomorrow be a brighter day! Love and strength to you all 🌈 ❤😘 xxxx

A selfie of Katie Living Life Our Way with rainbow drawings border

Alongside the post, I shared this selfie.

Why A Selfie?

I already knew, even at that time of the morning, that there would be no Mothers Day pictures to share. No cards. No presents, flowers or chocolates. No meals. No outings. No recent photos of my mum. Nothing.

(Although to be fair later in the day I did get a few cute photos of me sat on the sofa with Squiggle but I wouldn’t share those for privacy reasons anyway).

Sure, I could have used a stock image of a pretty bunch of flowers or box of chocolates but it just seemed abit inauthentic. So the picture is just to remind other mums that you aren’t alone! There is a real person behind these words, and I get how you feel. After all, I am that mum too.

Social Media Highlights

People on Facebook and other social media are often accused of only showing the highlights of their lives too though. Well yeah, sometimes that is certainly true – but so what? Way I see it, even if it was just one good moment out of the whole day, then you are blessed with that moment and why not share that with the world?! There is nothing wrong with focusing on the positives and sharing them for everyone to celebrate with you! So when you see others’ newsfeeds, please remember that people aren’t trying to make you feel bad or show off how amazing their life is – they are just the highlights!

Let’s all be cheerleaders in one another’s lives – goodness knows we certainly all need it at some time or another! As I said in my earlier message; sending love and strength to all those who need it. Together, we got this! ❤💪

(As a side note, the picture wasn’t meant to look so ‘posed’ by the way; it was taken at 3am after zero sleep (thanks to Squiggle pulling an all- nighter, yet again) and I was just trying to hide the fact I had massive bags under my eyes, haven’t done my eyebrows in forever, no make up (obviously!) and have very messy, unstyled hair. Oh, and I was sporting a scratch on my cheek from an earlier meltdown too! So I was just doing my best to erm… ‘style it out’ shall we say lol! But I mention this all now because, to be honest, I did kind of cringe when I looked back at the photo later in the day and wondered what others might think of my sleep- deprived choice! Oh well!)

Lots of love,

Katie xx

3 Benefits of a Whole Food Plant Based Diet: Guest Post by Micaela – Life in Lilac

My story starts at the end of last year when I basically decided I had had enough of being tired all the time, being overweight and generally unhappy with myself. After some research I came across a weight loss program called Bright Line Eating which has a strict program of cutting out all unhealthy foods including all sugar and all flour.

As part of my journey and research into nutrition I discovered that my long term vegetarian diet which included dairy, eggs and processed foods was not the best option for someone looking for long term health. Nutrition has always been something I have been interested in but this year I my research spurred me onto study for a Diploma in Nutrition and Weight Loss.

So, on January 1st this year I switched to a Whole Foods Plant Based diet which focuses on unprocessed, animal product free, natural foods. Since starting Bright Line Eating in October I have lost 13kg (28 lbs) in weight and feel more vibrant and happy than ever.

Today I want to share with you 3 benefits of switching to a Whole Foods Plant Based diet in the hopes that you will be inspired to try it for yourself, or at least incorporate more whole plant foods into your diet…

3 Benefits of a Whole Food Plant Based Diet
title on faded image of salad in a bowl

Reduced Blood Sugar Levels

Right now in the UK there are roughly 3.5 million people suffering from Diabetes, a lifelong condition that causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high and in turn can damage other organs and processes in the body.

Eating modern sugary snacks, cereals and puddings can put your body under a lot of stress as it is constantly trying to keep your blood sugar at a steady level by releasing insulin. This onslaught of processed foods and snacks which are ridiculously high in sugar ultimately ends up messing with our health. Eventually your body becomes used to having high levels of insulin all the time and you become resistant to it which ultimately leads to diabetes.

Focussing on more whole (unprocessed) plant foods such as vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains doesn’t only lower your consumption of sugar to begin with, it has been shown to slow down the absorption of sugars due to their high fibre content. It’s worth remembering that processed fruits and vegetables act on the body faster than whole foods because the fibre has been broken down, so try and avoid blending or juicing to maintain steady blood sugar.
If like me, you have diabetes in your family it’s worth considering putting down the sugary snacks and reaching for some fresh veggies instead.

Weight Loss

If you have a few pounds to shift then shifting to a diet which excludes all animal products and processed foods will give you a huge boost towards your goal. Fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains are low calorie and high in the nutrients you need so they have a great energy to benefit ratio when compared to processed food.

Processed foods are full of sugar and fat which ultimately makes them high in calories and let’s face it, low in real nutrients that your body needs. Foods made in a factory are never going to be as wholesome and beneficial as the food provided by mother nature.

Try switching out your high sugar cereal in the morning for some porridge or oatmeal made with plant milk (not from a packet!) topped with peanut or almond butter and instead of grabbing a high calorie sandwich for lunch prepare a hearty salad at home with a mix of vegetables such as carrots, cucumber, lettuce, peppers, avocado and tomato alongside a whole grain such as quinoa, buckwheat or brown rice.

Removing unhealthy foods packed with calories you don’t need and replacing them with delicious nutrient packed whole plant foods will ensure a lower consumption of calories which you don’t need and therefore will help boost your weight loss.

Vitamin Boost

I already mentioned that processed foods have high levels of calories and low levels of nutrients but did you know that people eating a standard modern diet will probably be deficient in vitamins because of this?

Vitamins, which are found mostly in plant foods, are essential for health. They are naturally occurring chemicals that sustain normal repair, growth and development as well as acting as a regulator to help release energy from foods. Some vitamins (A, C & E) have antioxidant properties which protect against diseases and damage.

We can store some vitamins in the body in our fat, such as vitamins A, D, E & K, but the vitamins which are water soluble, vitamins B & C we can not store and therefore we need to consume them in order to stay healthy. The absence of vitamins can cause some functions of the body to fail and ultimately can be fatal. There is no evidence that supplements actually benefit the body.

The good news is that eating more whole plant based foods will give you a huge boost of vitamins to keep you healthy and feeling vibrant. Food such as green beans, cabbage, leeks, okra, peppers, summer squash and sweet potato contain vitamins A, B and C along with beneficial minerals such as iron, potassium and magnesium.

At the end of the day you don’t have to radically change your diet to see the benefits of eating more whole plant based foods. Start small by switching out some of the most processed foods in your regular diet for healthier options and continue to slowly swap high calorie, low nutrition foods from your life. At least I hope I have given you some food for thought.

A bowl of healthy salad on a table

Author Bio

Micaela is a lady based in Kent, she is a digital marketer by day and lifestyle blogger by night. Micaela is passionate about learning and sharing knowledge about nutrition and helping people improve their health.

Why Dancing is Good for Your Body, Health, and Soul

Whether you’re in Canada, Thailand, or South Africa, there’s bound to be a dance floor somewhere. You see, dancing goes past borders; it is an integral part of being human: it’s a way for us to express our individualism, honor our ancestors, showcase art, and just have a good time.

But it’s more than that. There’s a number of physical and emotional benefits associated with dancing, from alleviating anxiety to increasing muscle mass. Even if you aren’t a professional dancer, you can still take advantage of dance’s healing and positive powers, and burn some calories in the process. That being said, read on to learn why dancing is good for your mind, body, and soul…

Why Dancing is Good for Your Body, Health, and Soultitle with image of woman dancing outdoors

It’s a Stress Reliever

According to a study, hip hop not only improves energy and increases mood but is a major stress reliever much the same way aerobic exercise is.

And, when you think about it, it makes sense. When you dance – hip hop, Latin, and other faster-paced styles, in particular – your body is in constant motion. You’re leaping, break dancing, and twirling; movements that increase blood flow and up your heart rate, which are the same benefits you get when doing your morning jog on the treadmill.

Boosting Those Endorphins

As you may know, exercise increases endorphins, hormones that are known for decreasing cortisol (stress hormone) and making you feel better. It’s no wonder then that dance, being a form of both exercise and art, decreases stress.

Man in street jumping with joy/ dancing

It’s a Mood Booster

We alluded to this earlier, but let’s just say it for what it is; dance is great for your mood. And, there’s research to back this up. The study involved 112 teenage girls who suffered from several physical and mental health problems, ranging from back and neck pain to anxiety and depression. Half of the girls participated in a weekly dance class while the other half didn’t. The results showed that the girls who danced weekly felt better.

And, what’s even more exciting, is that these results lasted up to 8 months. Long story short, don’t quit that weekly salsa class – it’s helping you in more ways than just breaking a sweat. (And, to feel even more like the dancer that you are, you may want to get costumes for dancers.)

Room full of people dancing taken from above

Your Social Health Improves

One of the wonderful benefits of dance is that not only can you can dance by yourself but with other people. It’s a great way to break the ice and meet new friends. You automatically have something in common with the person dancing next to you – even before you say hello.

Billy Idol Says It Best

Yes, Billy Idol got it right with one of his hits, “Dancing with Myself.” You don’t have to dance in a club or onstage at a competition representing your team’s colors. Simply dancing in your room by yourself is a great way to get all of dance’s positive benefits, not to mention pretend you’re Cheryl Burke or Whitney Carson.

Woman dancing in a field

It Helps You Lose Weight

Like running, jogging, and soccer, while dance is an art form, it’s also a sport. Which means when you are on the dance floor showing off your moves, you are also getting your heart rate up, blood pumping and, in combination with a healthy diet, losing weight.

Dancing Off the Weight

In fact, a New Zealand school teach did just that. After feeling unhappy with her life, Roni Tarver started to eat healthier and exercise. Eventually, she attended a Zumba class. And, soon after, became addicted to it, taking more and more classes. Not only did Tarver dance off 100 pounds but now is a Zumba instructor herself. So, case in point, don’t miss that weekly Zumba class.

It Deepens Your Self-Awareness

Dance doesn’t just help you physically and emotionally, but can settle your soul. Meditative dance helps to deepen your self-awareness and awaken your consciousness.

According to Elephant Journal, Native Americans used dance as a way to develop a deeper connection with the plants and animals. We also see this today in churches, where worshippers dance to celebrate and connect with God.

It Connects Us With our Heritage

Dance not only is a spiritual but cultural. We can use dance to bring us closer to our ancestors. We see this when Tongan and Samoan rugby teams begin the game with famous traditional war dance, Siva Tau, which used to be danced before going into battle.

Samoa and Tonga aren’t the only countries that use dance to mark special occasions. All around the world, dance celebrates big milestones like weddings and rites of passages. We can see this in the US where traditionally there’s a wedding reception after the wedding ceremony; the now-married couple takes the stage and dances the first dance, with family and friends following after. And, in Mexico and other Latin American countries, family and friends dance at Quincieañeras (celebration of a 15-year-old girl’s birthday and transition to adulthood).

Wedding guests dancing

Final Thoughts: Dance is Powerful

Dance shapes our bodies, minds, and spirits. It connects us with each other, our ancestors, and ourselves. It makes us feel better and increases our moods, which, in fact is the top reason why people dance recreationally.

Long story short, if you were looking for a reason to start or continue dance, this article is for you: go out and enjoy the powers of this beautiful and physical demanding art form.

How is dance good for you? What benefits have you enjoyed from it? Be sure to leave a comment below.

*This is a collaborative guest post.

Random Acts of Kindness Day & Valentines Day: Spread Some Love!

Happy (belated) Valentines Day and happy Random Acts of Kindness Day everyone! Firstly, an apology. I had good intentions, I genuinely did. My ‘Spread Some Love’ theme for this year was meant to include a bunch of giveaways for you all; I contacted companies, started to arrange the details… then we were hit with a family bereavement and that sent Squiggle’s anxiety spiralling. With a mental health crisis on our hands, naturally everything else just got thrown to the wayside. So I hope that you all appreciate the sentiment ‘it’s the thought that counts’ and know that I would have done this – and will as soon as we are back on top!

However, in the meantime, Squiggle wrote a message…

Paper heart cut out with message 'Happy Valentines Day! I love Everbody!' written in pink felt tip with hearts over it.

Squiggle had her own ideas about how to spread love too, which fitted in perfectly for both Valentines Day and Random Acts of Kindness Day combined! These were entirely her own initiative of course, which is particularly why I was so touched by her thoughtfulness.

Her first idea is to buy some small plush hearts to give out to people wherever and whenever the mood takes her. So sweet! She also told me to put the heart message (pictured above) in my coat pocket so she could randomly hand it to someone. Lastly, she made a point of smiling, waving and verbally greeting or complimenting everybody she saw in some way. For an autistic child with severe anxiety disorder this is huge! She pushed herself out of her own comfort zone in order to be friendly to others – I am so proud of her!

As for kindness to her family, she gave us this…

Happy valentines day message with lots of colourful hearts drawn and written by Squiggle.

Two hearts - one sweet and one chocolate - in a bowl.

Now this may not seem like much, but Squiggle bought these in Ikea a few days beforehand and thought ahead to Valentines Day by saving some heart ones specifically that she had chosen for us. The fact that she went out of her way to do that and chose to give away something she had meant so much! Like the saying goes; ‘if a child gives you a rock, cherish it. It is all they have to give!’