A Dancer’s Self-Care & Kindness
It’s World Kindness Day 2020!!
2020 has been a year — a year when dancers have longed to get back in studios and back on stage, a year where being creative and inspired takes a lot more innovation than usual, a year where health, both physical and mental, is difficult to maintain, a year that has also provided a lot of food for thought and growth in unexpected ways.
So in what ways can we show a little extra kindness both to ourselves and others??
Take a moment and reflect. The more we know about ourselves, both as an individual and as a dancer, the more we can continue to grow and pursue the things that are fulfilling to us, get rid of the things that are negative or harmful and find healthy ways to cope and adjust. Remember: we are not able to control everything — so get rid of the guilt of trying. We CAN decide how we react and respond — so let’s look at some ideas for self-care and inspiration to carry us through the end of 2020 and into 2021.
1. At Home Facials!
It may sound like it’s not a direct solution to everything happening around you, but taking time for relaxation and rejuvenation is important for your mental health. A simple at-home facial is something I’ve found to be inexpensive both for your time and your budget (and a sheet mask makes it even easier!). Find one that works best for you — whether it’s acne (mascne anyone??) treatment, skin brightening, calming or moisturizing — there are so many different relaxing options! Branch out and try under-eye masks or décolletage masks -wherever is more of a trouble spot for you! The great thing is, you simply pull the sheet mask out of the packet, put it on, and voila! It only takes about 10 minutes and you don’t even have to wash it off, you can just massage the remaining serum into your skin. It’s your choice – you can put it on and sit with your eyes closed and just focus on your breathing, or you can put it on while you do a few household chores for a little pampering while you work, or you can pop it on while you’re watching a favorite show. They make great, thoughtful gifts for those in your circle who may also be struggling with anxiety or different stressors.
2. Cross-train your art
Your physical training isn’t the only thing that creates beautiful art — you need inspiration from other forms of art! Whether it’s through a film, a museum (some are open right now if you wear masks and make an appointment!), getting some good headphones and getting lost in some new music, or taking in nature with a walk or a hike or a drive (if it’s getting cold, bundle up so you’re not distracted by shivering the whole time!). Taking that breath of fresh air, or just changing your surroundings, can do a lot for both your mental health and your inspiration. Create a change of pace for yourself to shake things up a bit and don’t give in to feeling like everything is shut down and unavailable — art will never stop being created! Watch some videos of your favorite dancers to remind yourself why you love what you do. Take notes on what you love about it to help give you clear ideas of what to practice and get excited about. Just don’t get stuck in front of the computer for too long! See above idea about getting outside or to a museum! 🙂
3. Epsom salt bath + bath bomb
I don’t cook a lot, but this is one of my favorite recipes for relaxation. You could do just the Epsom salts or just the bath bomb but I mean…why not both. Provided you have a bath tub, there are few things that seem to relax my whole body at once as well as a good bubble bath. Take care of your dancer’s body for the long-term and treat your muscles with some TLC. For tight and sore muscles, the Epsom salts will help relieve both tension and pain. For the cold months, a hot bath will shake the chill better than your five layers of sweaters and leggings. If you’re working on increasing flexibility, a bath will help warm up your muscles so they’re willing to stretch and release either before or after activity. You can personalize your relaxation with scented bath bombs or salts, and let’s be honest, the colors can be pretty fun too — who doesn’t want a multi-colored bath every now and then?? Look up some essential oils and find out which one fits your needs best — lavender for stress relief and sleep, rose for improving mood and reducing anxiety, bergamot for stress relief and skin care, lemon to help with mood and headaches, peppermint for energy, etc. — then either look up how to dilute it, or find a bath bomb that uses it! Grab a book, a glass of wine, a cup of tea, light some candles, play some soft music, or just relax quietly — you owe it to yourself!
You’ve hear this a million times, so I’ll keep it brief, but when my schedule gets all mixed up and I’m not taking my usual classes, it often affects me getting out of the habit of drinking water – especially if I’m around the house more. My favorite solution? Add a squeeze of fresh lemon to it, or get even fancier and add a splash of cranberry juice + lemon, or try sparkling water with lime! And then put it in a tumbler to keep it at the temp you prefer and stick a straw in it — I always drink more when I can just sip on a straw!
You have most likely been on social media — maybe more than you want to be — but don’t forget one of the benefits of a studio and being around other dancers. When I am around other dancers, whether I am practicing on my own or whether I am in a class, I always feel more motivated and inspired by seeing other people working on their art. I love having conversations in between classes, or swapping ideas with other instructors. These discussions always make me more excited about training and growing my art. Find ways to connect, even if you aren’t in the same classes or interacting with the same people you were before. It can be difficult, with limited studio capacities and social distancing even within the class. Try starting a conversation with the dancers you DO come into contact with — they may be missing the same interactions you are. Shoot someone a text to see how they’re doing, email some coworkers or fellow dancers about new ideas for continued training, or coordinate a workout or practice session that you all commit to, even if it’s from your own homes. It may give you something to discuss or explore further and keep the inspiration flowing for both of you. Be intentional!
6. Create a Routine
One of the challenging things about being at home more often, or not being able to attend the same classes we did before the pandemic is that it can be difficult to feel that you have things to motivate you or look forward to. It may be a few days before you realize you haven’t done the workouts or stretching you intended to do every day, or you haven’t signed up for the virtual classes you were interested in. Create a routine for yourself, even if you are at home taking virtual classes or taking a few classes in studio. Decide on a time you’ll wake up in the morning, pick a workout that works for you, and pick a time that you’ll have it done by — i.e. every morning you do a 20 min yoga practice before breakfast. That will start your day off with a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Then create a schedule for the classes you want to take if your studio hasn’t already done that for you. For example, if you know you have a class scheduled at 5 pm and one at 7, you have the afternoon to get some things done and then get ready for class. Then the day doesn’t just stretch out before you and the hours fly by before you realize what you did with them. Then at the end of your day, you can take some down time for yourself and do whatever helps you relax and recover, knowing you accomplished what you set out to do.
7. Write it down
Don’t let the things you have learned from this season pass you by. What new methods of training have you created — whether as a student or as an instructor? How has implementing more technology actually been helpful? What dancers have you been able to learn from and what videos did you find helpful? What have you discovered that you could grow in that you may not have worked on in your regular studio classes? What was it like not having a mirror for virtual classes? What at-home routines worked for you and could be continued even as we are able to dance together more? What self-care did you discover was most helpful for you personally? It is never one-size-fits-all. The more we learn about ourselves, the more we are able to maximize what we learn from others and apply it. Write things down that have been impactful for you as well as the things you have struggled with. This way we will come out of this season stronger and even more equipped to pursue our art and a healthy lifestyle!