Dancers often deal with somewhat stressful environments. A major aspect of dance that causes stress is dealing with rejection. Now, I don’t want you to start feeling all sorry for me, but I am no stranger to dealing with rejection in the dance world. When you’re about 7 or 8 years old, dancing with a professional ballet company and wondering why you weren’t picked to be a baby butterfly or a “petit papillon” but your best friend was, that can be a bit scarring. And yet, the competitive side of me stuck with it all the way until college. Honestly, dancers are all gluttons for punishment. Moral of the story is that stress is bad. Seriously, it can cause heart disease, asthma, obesity (probably not a problem with dancers as much), diabetes, depression, anxiety, gastrointestinal problems, Alzheimer’s, premature aging and even death. That’s right! If you’re too stressed out, you could die! So, without further ado, here are 7 suggestions for stress release that will save your life! Yep, I’m going to save your life. You are welcome ;)
1. Word vomit it out
When I was a senior in college, I wrote a secret online dance blog that completely trashed the world of dance (10 bucks for anyone who can find it! Just kidding, its been deleted in fear of getting blacklisted by the dancer mofia. They cut the toes off your ballet shoes, and leave them in your bed). This was a place for word vomit and stress release after a long hard day of self-esteem-crushing rejection in the studio. At that time in my life, I was seriously considering quitting the dance world all together. I was applying to editorial internships with publishing companies and various types of office jobs, trying to literally erase dance from my life altogether. After literally projectile vomiting all of my anger out onto that blog, I was able to figure out a way to actually keep dance in my life. Whether its in a private journal, or out on display in an anonymous internet blog, writing is a great release that I highly recommend.
2. Get Lost!!! (in a book)
Also during my senior year of college, I started reading the Twilight books (Stop judging me. Stop. Stop it!). I literally read all four books in two weeks. Then I got really stressed after I hurt myself at this LA jazz workshop (we’ll save that story for another time), so I read them all over again! Reading those books allowed me to transport myself into the world of Edward and Bella. I know, it sounds really, REALLY lame, but at that time, I was extremely upset about my life as a dancer. Reading a book that helps you to “get lost” is the perfect way to truly forget about the pressures of your own life. Even if its only for a little while. Not to quote Tesco, but every little helps (only you UK folks will get that one).
3. Channel your inner grandma… by knitting!
People often associate knitting with older women, typically around your grandmother’s age. Well, I’m here to tell you that knitting is cool. That’s right, I’m gonna go as far to say that knitting is flippin’ awesome. Sorry, I’m getting a bit excited, but yet another thing I did in college to get rid of the pressures from the dance studio was that I took up knitting. The repetitive motion of weaving the yarn around and through loops with the needles is extremely therapeutic and almost meditative. Focusing and concentrating on the project you are knitting takes your mind out of the stressfulness of your life and places it in the joy of creating a new fun project! If you find that working with two needles is a bit difficult, but you like this concept of meditative crafting, you can also try crochet where you use only one needle. Not only will you have a way to escape your stress, but its a great way to make gifts for people that they’ll never ever use! (Just kidding, my knitting is trés chic)
4. Run a marathon! Just kidding. Marathon watch TV instead!
Okay, so this one really isn’t that “good for you.” I may actually get into trouble one way or another for suggesting this, but before you get all huffy about it, let me explain myself. You know how you get really engrossed in what you’re watching on TV sometimes? Almost to the point of being mesmerized? Well, that’s what I am trying to get at here. If you’re in a terrible state of mind such as one resulting from a bad audition or a ballet class where your teacher called you “big boned,” then spend a night watching your favorite season of Friends, or catching up on The Big Bang Theory. One night of TV is not going to kill you, and honestly, after what you go through as a dancer, you deserve a few hours of a “mental vacation.”
Back in college, I would not have suggested yoga as a way to escape stress. This was because I was required to take a class called “Yoga for Dancers” as a part of my curriculum, when in actuality is should have been called “Yoga Boot Camp.” It wasn’t yoga like one would take at a yoga studio where you enter a state of meditation and work on the poses at your own time in your own pace. It was yoga that made me cry and almost vomit (not exaggerating). Therefore, my love for yoga did not come until well, WELL after I graduated. I was finally able to realize that yoga can be a great way to train your mind to escape the outside world and work on whichever purpose you may have for taking yoga in the first place. That purpose may be to gain flexibility, strength, or even the ability to focus your mind on one task at a time. Its okay if you don’t want to hold the bridge pose for 20 minutes. You know your own body, and no one is judging you. So, when I speak of yoga as a way to de-stress, this is the version I am referring to. Definitely not the kind where you end the class by dropping and giving the instructor 20 push ups. Okay, that didn’t actually happen, but it may as well have.
6. Literally Escape Somewhere.
This one is quite literal in that I am actually telling you to pick up and get out of there. Not for a long time, and not if you’ll be missing something important (unless you are willing to pay the consequences of missing it), but sometimes you just need to get the bleep outta there! When I was stressed about my dance life, I would hop in my car and get myself a coffee or a frozen yogurt. It wouldn’t take me away for very long, but as soon as I got in that car and started driving, I was instantly able to relax a bit just knowing that I was on my way to getting a little treat. If you don’t like coffee or frozen yogurt, find something that you do like, or somewhere scenic where you can look at some nature (if you live in a place that is not London or New York City). Its not a long term solution (none of these are really), but at least it will help you get into a better state of mind, so that you can return to doing what you need to do.
7. Talk It Out.
Sometimes you just need to spit out the problem in the form of venting to someone you trust. Whenever I chose this option, my go-to people would be my parents. I’m sure they didn’t really enjoy listening to me crying my eyes out over the phone to them, but they were always willing to listen which was exactly what I needed. However, if you are going to cry your eyes out, make sure you tell the person you’re venting to exactly what you need from them beforehand. If you’re just looking for a listener, then tell them that or else you may get some unwanted advice or tough-love that you’re not capable of handling at that particular moment.
Final Thoughts: The underlying theme here is finding something that will allow you to release your stress and ultimately let it go. It may be taking a “mental vacation, ” or physically stating the object of stress in order to release it from your system. If you didn’t see anything listed that you found helpful, then just take those guidelines and find your own stress reliever. The bottom line is that you don’t have to take all of the negative comments you hear in dance class or the feelings of rejection from an audition home with you. It is important to leave all negativity where you found it and move on with your life afterwards. I know you may feel passionately about dance, but if you love it that much, you will find your place eventually, so there’s no use in ruining your whole life over one failed audition (or a series of failed auditions). It will happen for you in time, but in the mean time, de-stress and be happy!
I hope that you found my tips helpful! Leave me a comment below and let me know what you think, or tell me if you have a stress releasing method that I didn’t mention. Until next time! :)
Stress information retrieved from: 10 stress-related health problems