It has been about a month since I re-introduced this policy to my daily routine and I am SO HAPPY that I did. Some of you have seen or heard this alarm go off in recent afternoons or seen me post about it already.
The concept is simple. Every day at 3:00pm my alarm goes off to remind me to take a break and dance. Every afternoon I stop whatever I’m doing for a few minutes and for the duration of (at least) one song have a dance party. If you’re around – you’re invited.
Full disclosure – this is not my idea. I adopted it from a former co-worker. The summer of 2009 I was working as a temp in Chicago and spent a few weeks at an incredibly boring data entry office gig. It became clear early on that while the job itself was mind-numbingly tedious I was surrounded by some pretty cool people. We quickly became friends and would find ways to make the day more fun together. Paper airplanes were definitely involved at one point.
As I remember it, the young man who started it was working in the cubicle directly across from mine. All of us temps were stationed in a corner of a large open workspace with pods of workstations clustered together. He simply stood up, stretched his arms over his head, and announced that it was 3 o’clock and therefore time for a dance party. I accepting his declaration unquestioningly and stood up to join him. That probably won’t surprise anyone who knows me, but I imagine that seemed odd to the rest of the office watching us. I don’t know if it was already a personal tradition of his or if he just decided to dance that day, but we turned it into a daily thing that all of us temps participated in together. We didn’t work together very long, but most of us stayed in touch afterwards, which is unique to my other experiences in short lived office jobs.
When I set this alarm on my phone earlier this year it was an impulsive inside joke with myself. I didn’t actually expect it to stick, let alone expect to grow as adamant about it as I have. But it’s turned 3pm into one of my favorite times of the day.
It turns out there’s science that backs it up as a good move for self care. I’m sure I’ll round up some of that research eventually, but for now all my evidence is anecdotal. Here are some of the benefits I’ve personally experienced:
- Listening a song I like, and I mean focused listening without multi-tasking, is something I forget to do when I’m stressed. But music is important to me. Taking the time to deliberately choose my soundtrack has been extremely beneficial.
- There is a LOT of research on the physical/psychological benefits of dancing. Those are all amplified for me personally.
- I believe it’s generally a good thing to take a few minutes every day to get in touch with your body and move it around in whatever ways feel good. Some days I jump around energetically and some days I languidly stretch out. But every day I step back from all my screens and focus on myself for a few minutes.
- “If I can’t dance it’s not my revolution” – dancing is inextricably linked to social justice movements in my heart.
- Every day I take the time to cherish and celebrate my memories of dancing with the people I love, sometimes while making new ones simultaneously. Those memories mean the world to me. And they help me keep going when I’m discouraged.
- It helps me take a step back to consider how I’m feeling (physically and emotionally) and decide what I’m going to do about it.
- It’s a lot of fucking fun.
If we make afternoon plans together in the future you can expect an invitation to join me in person. In the meantime I’ll try to remember to post what song I’m dancing to on any given day so you can dance with me from afar if you’d like. Or of course – start your own dance party! I always advocate for more dance parties!