Joyful motion: Taking steps to relieve stress and improve wellbeing
By: John Kieslich
Rusti Brandman, Ph.D., has a few rules in her dance class: have fun; listen to your own body; if you’re doing something different from others, it’s not a mistake rather you’re being creative; and have more fun. Her class invites staff to de-stress and have fun with colleagues. #352Creates
Stress. Everyone, no matter their role in this institution, deals with stress. It is an inescapable facet of modern life, but research shows that people who employ stress-coping techniques live with more ease, higher levels of satisfaction and better health.
Rusti Brandman, Ph.D., is a UF Health Shands Arts in Medicine Dancer in Residence, Co-Director Emeritus of the UF Center for Arts in Medicine and Associate Professor Emeritus of Dance for the UF School of Theatre + Dance where she founded the dance program.
Rusti teaches several dance classes including Joyful Motion for Health which invites UF Health staff members to take 45 minutes to de-stress and have fun with their colleagues.
“Staff are under incredible pressure. Whether they are doctors, nurses, social workers or administrative professionals, they all play a part in creating a healing environment. That’s a lot of pressure,” Rusti said. “I wanted to make a class that gives staff members a chance to shake the stress away and have fun with each other with simple dance routines.”
Rusti has a few rules in Joyful Motion: have fun; listen to your own body; if you’re doing something different from others, it’s not a mistake rather you’re being creative; and have more fun.
But dance is not just shaking and good times. People who dance are training their bodies and brains for longevity.
“When you dance, you are training muscles all over your body. You’re working on balance, posture, strength, coordination and spatial and kinesthetic awareness,” Rusti said. “And more importantly, dance challenges the brain! In any dance class, you are tasking your brain with memorizing a set of dance moves and putting it all together.”
Dance is a perfect example of how creativity nourishes mind, body and spirit.
“Once a week, I end my day dancing in a hospital with friends I’ve known for years. I come in stressed, I leave a little sweatier, but renewed and happy,” said Lainey Bertisch, UF Department of Pediatrics administrative specialist.
352Creates celebrates people who incorporate creativity into their daily lives because research supports the health benefits of engaging in the creative process.
Just as Rusti facilitates dance as a creative practice that improves wellbeing, UF Health Shands Arts in Medicine and other community partners organize family-friendly, fun creative activities for 352Creates. On Sunday, Feb. 25, join us for the ‘Create in Community’ event from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Depot Park in Downtown Gainesville. Each spring for the past two years, community-wide “pop-up” art activities and participation by individuals, groups, schools, libraries, hospitals and businesses as part of 352Creates have promoted health and community engagement in unexpected ways and diverse locations. The event is free and open to everyone.
Each month, we’ll be sharing a story from Empathy Corner, an internal publication of UF Health.