Depressed? Try a Mental Health Dance Party

Whether you’re suffering from an ordinary down mood or major depressive disorder like me–or something in between or different altogether–many people have advice for you. Including me.

Some mornings, before my magical cocktail of coffee, Trintellix, and CBD Relief Toads kicks in, there’s almost nothing that can get me motivated to unstick my ass from the sofa, where I am watching Mika and Joe report Donald Trump’s latest efforts to destroy any remaining shreds of American democracy. (I know I should not start my day with the news, but I am the one doling out the advice today!) Intellectually, I realize that a short yoga practice, a healthy breakfast, a shower, and a walk with the dogs will make me feel at least better enough to get my day started. But sometimes I literally can’t. That inability to override the heavy freeze of depression with one’s will is its defining feature, in my opinion.

For those days, I have a Mental Health Dance Party, five to fifteen minutes of listening to music that motivates me in some way, usually culminating in spontaneous embarrassing white girl dance moves. (I imagine that my dancing brings my dogs great amusement.) With essentially zero effort and exactly zero expectations around whether I will actually dance on a given day, I pick up my phone, open Spotify, and click play. My playlist, prepped in the days or weeks before, is right there, so there’s no decision-making anxiety around which songs to choose. Inevitably, one of the first few songs gets at least a little head nod going. Five minutes later, I am shaking my booty and grinding coffee beans.

The benefits?

  • No side effects!
  • It’s free!
  • It’s fun!
  • Studies show that music helps depression.
  • Dancing helps depression, too!
  • Inevitably, you’ll get your heart rate up and move around (also known as exercise). And guess what? Exercise also helps depression.
  • If it doesn’t improve your mood, you will still have exercised for a few minutes and inadvertently improved your heart health, if not your mental health.

If you try it, please share some of your favorite jams. I’ll gather the responses and create a collaborative Mental Health Dance Party playlist.

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, please contact SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 800-662-HELP, available 24/7.