Keeping warm, healthy and happy in and out of the studio.

Hot, sweaty studios are a breeding ground for colds and flu but how can we keep well? Do you find that the moment one person in your class or company has a virus, it soon spreads like wildfire and everyone has it?! Keeping warm and cosy during this cold spell and dismal weather can at times be tricky to remain focused on our wellbeing and we tend to just want to hibernate inside, snuggle by the fire with a hot chocolate and packet of biscuits. Although this sounds delightful, our health and wellbeing still need to be at the forefront to stay well ourselves, keep our immune systems strong, so we don’t pass horrible bugs on to other people and can carry out our every day lives happily. Wellbeing is about having a strong rapport with ourselves and the world around us. Wellbeing cannot be measured by statistics and it is a deeply personal response. Feeling content, happy and balanced is different for every person. Discovering, exploring and sustaining this way of being is so important for our mental, physical and spiritual health and to be able to fulfil our potential.

A busy work schedule and day to day life can mean less time to focus on ourselves and bodies and finding the time to recover from a busy day of performing, teaching or rehearsing can be tricky. I remember from freelancing and rushing from one place to another, getting caught in the rain, turning up to teach cold and wet and wondering why I felt a bit rough and tired. It really is so important to spend a chunk of time each day to allow the body to recover from the demands of a busy and active lifestyle and to nurture and take care of our bodies so that they can be at their optimal health and deliver at their highest level.

Here is how we can be cosy and additionally boost our immune system, mood and sunshine in our homes and studios:

1. Keeping active and fit lifts our mood and happiness levels. Depression and anxiety can arise when we become sedentary, which can happen in colder months. Dance releases natural endorphins, released through activity and keeps us happy, happy, happy. If you can’t get to a dance class or an exercise class, go for a walk – it doesn’t matter what it is – just move and it makes a world of difference to our mood.

2. Get outside! Even if it is just for half and hour and the exposure to natural light is key as the Vitamin D we absorb boosts our immune system. If the weather is dreadful, bring the outside in – have plants, cut flowers, open windows to get rid of stale air, watch the wildlife from the window and feel a connection to nature.

3. Take care with the amount of carbs and sugar you have. The cold weather entices us to gorge more on sugary and comfort type foods. Try and eat lots of greens such as broccoli, kale and beans to ward off horrible viruses and keep the body healthy. Try and cook food from scratch, so you know exactly what is going into your food and you can control anything unwanted and unnecessary going in to your food and bodies.

4. Have hot drinks! Limit the amount of caffeine you have everyday and try out fruit and herbal teas. I have discovered the joy of Hot Chocolate made with plant based milks such as Almond, Rice or Hazelnut mixed with Cacao powder (purer form of chocolate powder full of magnesium, zinc and copper – great for skin, hair and nails). It’s utterly delicious and doesn’t have any sugar in it.

5. Have a foot bath! Find the time to indulge, rest and pamper your dancer’s well worn feet. Soak your feet in aromatherapy oils and salts to soothe aching muscles and reduce inflammation. Massage lotion into your feet afterwards and put a big pair of socks on afterwards for a lovely treat to the feet.

6. Layer up! It may sound obvious but make sure you wear lots of layers to, during and from class to keep muscles warm. Keep your feet warm so that you avoid chilblains, which are very painful to dance on – trust me on this one!

7. Meditate, relax and breathe! After an exciting and creative day in the studio or performing it can be difficult to lower the Adrenalin levels and settle down. Try out meditation. – there are lots of free podcasts that you can discover and see which ones you like best. Alternatively try reading, listening to music, being still and focusing on the breath are all great ways of unwinding and returning the body back to a neutral state to recover and rest from an active day.

8. Snuggle up and get a good nights sleep. Not getting enough sleep is related to heart issues, diabetes and strokes. Also a poor nights sleep doesn’t allow your muscles to relax and repair. It can impact on logical and problem solving skills needed for being your most focused in class and coming up with creative solutions when making work, rehearsing and performing. Not enough snooze time can increase the development of anxiety and low mood and a good nights sleep allows us to rationally cope better with challenging situations. See if you can fit in a nap during the day!

9. Create a cosy mood at home – have candles burning, soft lighting, cosy fires, use aromatherapy oils, play games with the people you live with… anything to provide a warm, inviting and relaxed environment to feel safe, stress free and a place you love being in.

10. Declutter your home – this provides less stress and busy environment. By removing items that are no longer loved or needed, you have less to clean and leaves a clear and comfortable surrounding. Donate, sell or recycle unwanted stuff! By keeping tidy it eliminates stress and you can focus on one area of the home at one time. I find I am much more productive when I am at home when the house is neat and tidy. Plus it gives you more space to dance around!

11. Turn off electronic alerts and notifications! AHHH! Constant beeping and buzzing can be very distracting, demanding and stressful of your attention if you need to work, study and learn. Have set times to check emails and turn off screens when you don’t need them.

12. Spend time with others and social interaction is well known to protect against depression, lower blood pressure and levels of stress hormones. Go social dancing, keep warm and meet new people!



Twitter: @hannilydance

Instagram: Hannily_Bendell_Dance

Try out my personal training programme, RAISE THE BARRE

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