My last blog focused on self care and how Dance is hugely beneficial to us in terms of health, well-being and feeling happy. However, for professional dancers there is a slightly different approach. As dancers we have a pretty special job being in the studio every day, being active, creative and in tune with our bodies but there are also pressures encountered everyday to sustain this lifestyle and there is a risk of overworking and becoming injured. Self care as a dancer is pivotal to ensure longevity in a dance career and eliminate any long term damage.
A dancers’ job can be high risk; not knowing when the next job will come along, funding cuts, potential injury, working late nights, pressure from peers, directors, critics and choreographers and self care is more important than ever to retain self esteem, optimal mental and physical health and motivation.
Dancers are hard working, driven individuals with exemplary work ethics. Some of my dance friends are the smartest, most hard working people I know and are not afraid of a hard days graft. But where do we draw the line? Many dancers are self employed and it can become very hard to say ‘no’ to work when we are already snowed under. The pressures of paying bills and planning for those ‘quiet patches’ can mean heavy work days with huge stress on the body and mind too.If you fall ill, generally if you can still walk you will still go to work in fear of losing a days wage and being mindful of letting people down by cancelling classes or performances.
I am making a dance career sound like a nightmare – it's not! It's joyful, creative, challenging and enriching but this can only be sustained with self care.
What can we do to look after ourselves as busy professional dancers? Here are 25 tips!
1. Try out Self massage – have a look at my blog focusing on this, which can give you some ideas.
2. Get an injury seen to immediately – I know it can be expensive but it can either cost you some time off in the short term or worse if it is left, cause an ongoing problem or end a career.
3. Have a proper, healthy diet. Figure out what works for you. Listen to your body and cut out those foods that don't agree with you. It will prevent illness and potential days off and keep your body finely tuned.
4. Have fun and be playful in your work and in your relationships.
5.Try out other ways of being creative to broaden your own creative ideas.
6.Drink lots of water to keep your mind and body hydrated and able to function at its maximum.
7.Sleep plenty and allow the body to recover after a hard days work in the studio.
8.Be open minded, to new and exciting opportunities.
9.Keep inspired – see lots of different performances, gigs, plays, music, art, new places and try out new hobbies and skills.
10. Avoid the negative critics that don't do you any good and just make you doubt yourself.
11. Listen to constructive criticism that is helpful and supportive in your development.
12. Stay positive about life – there is much to be thankful for!
13. Follow your intuition, ideas and gut feelings – it is your inner compass.
14. Have a salt bath after a long days work – it helps to heal your tired muscles and reduce aches and pains.
15. Stretch before and after a long day in the studio or on stage.
16. Warm up and cool down properly to avoid injury and stiff muscles.
17. Use balls, rollers and massagers to help alleviate sore muscles and a build up of lactic acid.
18. Learn to say no when you are over worked, stressed and uninspired.
19. Programme in a day off and fill it with things that will treat you.
20. Write down how you are feeling and journal new ideas that come to you.
21. Stay true to your individuality and creativity – don't try and copy someone else. Be you.
22. Avoid late nights when you can, to allow your body to wind down, recover and repair.
23. Avoid fatty foods, sugary drinks, alcohol and general rubbish. Feed your body as if it is the most precious thing.
24. Avoid negative people who stress you out and put you down. You don't need them around you!
25. Don't be afraid of fulfilling your potential. Surely it is worse to not fulfil your potential than it is to step into your stride and do your thing! Go the extra mile to fulfil your amazing self!
Try out my personal training programme, RAISE THE BARRE http://hannily.co.uk/raise-the-barre/
Try out my ballet barre videos: YouTube: https://youtu.be/JObOOAvyL_c