21 Aug Part 2 – Take Care of Yourself
The second part of my ballet advice series is knowing how to take care of yourself. As dancers, one can either be very attentive to their body, or push through a class when they really should stop.
First, I’d like to start by explaining my “Sabbath Days” as I call them. Every week I choose a day where I intentionally and actively do nothing. This means that I let myself sleep in, go for a walk or run, take an epsom salt bath, do a face mask, and read a book. It’s not giving me an excuse to watch Netflix all day or eat junk food. It’s taking care of myself, or doing nothing on purpose. I believe it’s important for everyone (especially dancers) to take a rest day to do nothing. Even if it’s not a full day, treat yourself in a healthy way and make sure you’re taken care of physically, mentally, and spiritually.
Second, I want to address dancers and their association with guilt. It’s very easy for a dancer to feel guilty. Whether it’s missing a ballet class due to injury or illness, or even eating a sugary treat. Dancers are normal human beings!! When we dance, we certainly do not look like one, but that does not mean we treat ourselves like an animal. If you have to miss a class, do not beat yourself up. The way I think of it is like this: Will this affect me in a week? A month? A year? Will this affect my entire dance career? If these answers are no, then you’re fine. Sometimes it’s also important to make sure your mental stability is good. Looking at yourself in the mirror for hours and hours on end can drive you to eating disorders and constant judgement of yourself. It’s not normal to see yourself in the mirror for that long. Do not let it get to your head. As well as being able to see what you need to work on, it’s also important to see what you are good at. Like I said before, I make sure to look beautiful before I go to class.
Lastly, know when to stop. Whether it’s an injury, illness, or mental instability. Be self-aware without getting inside your head. Do check ups on yourself throughout the day. If you’re feeling sore, that’s a good hurt. Keep going. If there is any sharp or extremely uncomfortable pain, stretch, and if it continues, stop and ask your teacher about it. For mental health, you can not get too inside your head. Even when correcting yourself, do not be hard on yourself. It’s taken me a long time to get to this point, but basically you have to not let corrections lead to ‘that must mean I won’t get on pointe’ or ‘she/he probably said that because I’m fat’ or, and this is the worst of all, ‘she/he said that because I won’t ever be a dancer.’ A teacher’s main goal is to improve their students. If they correct you, it means they like and see potential in you. DO NOT TAKE IT PERSONALLY. I think that sentence needs a lot of emphasis. Filter corrections. The things that improve you are kept, and everything else leaves. It’s as simple as that.
More to come!!