I’ve realised that even though I love pole to death, I spend a hell of a lot of time moaning about it. “Oh fucking hell I can’t get into this pose”, “my shoulders are a heap of shit” “this trick burns like a motherbitch” and various other first world problems come firing out of my mouth on a regular basis. I have decided that now I have reached the ripe old age of 27, it’s about time I showed the pole the gratitude it deserves and praise pole dance for the greatest gift it’s given me, a tremendous improvement in my mental health.
Back when I started pole I suffered quite a bit with anxiety and depression, I muddled through everyday life, but it was a struggle. I managed to somehow hold down a full time job, but it wasn’t easy. I would flap over the tiniest of things in life and everything was all a bit of a challenge. Let’s just say the old brain wasn’t my best mate back in 2015.
Attending my first pole taster back then with my good friend Stanzi took a huge amount of courage. I was walking into an area of my city that I didn’t know well, would be in a room full of people who I didn’t know and had absolutely no fucking idea what the taster session entailed. By the time we arrived at the studio, I was shitting an entire shed load of bricks. However, my CBT( Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, sounds proper fancy doesn’t it?) and mindfulness techniques that I had been practicing taught me to face your fears head on, so I took a deep breath and off I went.
Obviously the taster went better than expected and I signed up for classes. It was then coming to pole on a regular basis that I saw my mental health dramatically improve and my anxiety and depression started to pack its bags and prepare to fuck off. As you all know, pole dance requires a hell of a lot of concentration, and I found myself being very mindful in classes when learning new moves. When you’re busy trying to work out which way round the pole your leg needs to go, where your strong hand needs to be and how to not land on your arse like a wally, there’s little room for the stresses of life to be in your brain.
As well as the concentration and mindfulness elements of pole helping my brain out nicely, I found the sense of pride you get when achieving a trick boosted my confidence too. Even getting the basic spins in the beginning like an attitude and back hook made me feel proud of myself. Before pole I had never really been sporty or a high achiever in life, so the simple things that all add up to a big thing felt fucking sweet!
As my pole adventures continued, various other challenges rose to the surface, which of course when conquered helped my mental health tenfold. These were optional ones, such as entering the Bristol Pole Championships and performing in our studio showcase, (which was easily the most nerve wracking thing I have ever done) but damn I felt fantastic when I had done it!
Overall pole dancing is bloody brilliant for your mental health. It provides a focus for your mind that helps stop it wandering off into the abyss or having thoughts whizzing in at 150 mph, you get a sense of pride and achievement when you perform, compete and even learn a new trick and your physical health improves too. I can honestly say that if it wasn’t for pole dance, I wouldn’t have the courage and self-confidence to face half the challenges life has thrown at me since I started pole! I may moan about it at times, but I honestly cannot recommend pole enough to anyone, especially for how beneficial it can be to your mental health.
PS- If you are suffering with your mental health, please seek professional help such as your GP or a mental health service. You got this.