A Culture of JOYMay 24, 2022
What does JOY mean to you? What do you picture when you hear (read) that word?
It’s ok if it takes a moment to come up with an answer... in recent times we have had many occasions where joy has escaped us, been stolen from us, or just doesn’t show up quite as often as we had hoped. Sometimes, joy can be found in the things we take for granted or the things that we need to revisit. For me, after slowing down due to the pandemic, I remember feeling empty like something was missing; this certainly impacted my mental health. As someone who typically embraces my introverted nature, I took for granted that I would enjoy being at home with limited social interactions. However, once the restrictions began to lift and things began to feel safer, the only thing that I wanted to do was DANCE. I missed the community of social dancers I had come to know and the opportunities to connect with new people through that shared passion.
The moment I embraced this urge to step foot on the dance floor and move my feet to the sweet sounds of that feel-good Zydeco music,
I regained my clarity and happiness, and I no longer had that empty feeling.
Dancing is one of those things that encourages connection – with others, with music, with creative expression, with emotions and with self – how dynamic! Reflecting on this experience caused a lightbulb to go off in my head – most cultures in the world have specific foods, languages, and other unique attributes like music and methods of movement. I realized that just as we need food for nourishment and language to communicate, we also NEED things like dancing to keep our spirits high and move our bodies in meaningful ways.
If you have ever heard of the mind-body connection, then viewing dance as a tool for mental wellness may seem like a natural fit. However, whether this concept is familiar to you or not, I invite you to do a bit of exploration and experiment with how incorporating movement like dancing in your routine can impact and improve your overall wellness. It may help to explore your own culture and heritage or even just talk with family members (relatives or chosen family) to get an idea of meaningful traditions of dance or other types of movement that can inspire you.
In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month this May, will you take on the Culture of Joy Challenge?
It is my hope that you will and that you be pleasantly surprised by what you uncover when you become intentional about creating or reconnecting with joy in your life. Take Good Care!
Sonja Hebert is a Licensed Professional Counselor and part-time Clinician at Samaritan Counseling Center of Southeast Texas. She is a graduate of the University of Houston (M.Ed. Counseling; 2014) and Xavier University of Louisiana (B.S. Psychology; 2012). Sonja is driven to help others overcome obstacles by facilitating a safe space for exploration of emotions, coping skills, and personal discovery of strengths. Additionally, she has interests and experience in the areas of meditation/mindfulness practice, stress management, and Solution-Focused Brief Therapy. Her hometown is New Orleans, LA. When not in session, she loves to cook Louisiana Creole food to share with loving family and friends and attend Zydeco (Creole music) dances and trail rides.