Whether you’ll be performing the Nutcracker or not!

The Holiday Season is one of my favorite times of the year. I loooove Thanksgiving and Christmas for the family time and the festivities of the season. This year should be even sweeter as it’s my daughter’s first Christmas! BUT, a lot comes up during the Holidays and it used to be a much darker time for me.

When you’re struggling with food and body image and you’re in the theater or studio rehearsing 24/7 for Nutcracker, it can be a major challenge.

In college I performed Arabian when I was at my highest dancing weight. Going on stage in a 2 piece at that time felt mortifying. I spent a lot of time picking myself apart.

Commit to supporting yourself during this time whether you’re in a season of major struggle or not. Even if you’re feeling pretty good, there are obstacles that might slow down positive momentum.

Here, I’ll highlight some of the challenges you might face and offer some advice for working through them, staying mindful and having a truly joyous season!

Struggle #1: You don’t feel great about yourself and you’re on stage A LOT.

When you’re on stage a lot, you might feel a little exposed. There’s a whole audience and artistic staff out there watching you quite closely. If you’re not feeling like you’re at your best it’s easy to get caught in a negative mental loop.

Give yourself daily reminders that you’re doing your best and really bring your best – that way you’ll start to believe the reminders. Pick a mantra that you can repeat to yourself, something like, “I’m working hard to bring my best dancing to each performance”.

Remember, this is an ongoing process. Do your best to incorporate your favorite healthy meals into your busy days. Get as much rest as you can. That will keep your hormones balanced so your hunger cues don’t get out of whack. Find support and don’t keep quiet when you’re struggling.

Check out this related post :   9 Tips to Avoid Nutcracker Burnout

Struggle #2: The Season get’s crazy busy and it’s hard to get anything done.

Laundry, food, sewing pointe shoes, buying secret Santa gifts, buying other holiday gifts, going to parties, enjoying time with friends…the list goes on. There’s A LOT to do and you start to feel like you’re in the theater or studio for most of your time. A lot of you might only get 1 day off a week for a few weeks (or more) and it all get’s overwhelming pretty easily.

To keep yourself grounded, start planning now. Take advantage of shopping online (for at least some gifts). Think about what foods and recipes you can make ahead and freeze (soups are great).

Sew as many pairs of pointe shoes as you currently have. Before my shoes were provided by the company, I would ask for early Christmas presents of pointe shoes so I was well stocked. If you end up with extras, it’s not like they won’t get used eventually!!

Keep any workouts or cross training concise and easy. Try to find something you can fit in at home so you don’t have to add another destination to your day. Also keep in mind a lighter cross training schedule probably makes sense. Find things that combat the repetition of your performance. There are usually bits of choreography that overwork parts of your body. Address the muscles that are being neglected.

Struggle #3: The Food.

Dressing rooms are filled with candy. Holiday parties often feature decadent, indulgent foods. You’re strapped for time which can easily lead to mindless, less-healthy eating choices.

As mentioned above, plan ahead and store some healthy meals. Make time to go the grocery store so you’ll have healthy, fresh meal and snack options. For holiday parties or your families Thanksgiving, offer to bring something healthy (hummus and crudites is an easy one and you can buy it all pre-made from the store).

Check out this related post :   Dancer question: Can you thrive in a toxic dance environment?

Allow for indulgences!! If you go into the Season telling yourself you’re not going to touch a holiday dessert, you’re setting yourself up to fail. Think about what your favorite holiday treats are and prioritize them.

Struggle #4: Audition Season is looming.

Hopefully you’ve got your photos done and your resume ready to go. If you don’t, schedule a photo shoot keeping in mind that photographers will need time to edit. It could be 4-6 weeks (or more – get that info up front) from your photo shoot to receive the finished product.

You can work on your resume a little at time. Start to get the information together so it won’t take long to put it all together.

If you’ll be sending out a video, start rehearsing a variation so you’ll be ready to film. If you can get studio space during Nutcracker, great. Otherwise, plan for early in the New Year.

What do you struggle with during the Holidays?

If it’s the food, cross training and overall Nutcracker craziness, check out the Nutcracker Survival Kit. An exciting new online resource from Kathryn Morgan x The Whole Dancer.

how not to overeat at the holidays

The Kit includes exclusive access to 3 – mini workouts with Kathryn Morgan, a recipe bank of ideas for pre/post show meals and snacks + a sample week of meals plus a LIVE Q+A with Jess and Kathryn! Additional Holiday/Nutcracker support resources will be added based on participant requests.

At just $39, the Survival Kit is a steal! Get the details and sign up here: https://www.thewholedancer.com/nutcracker-survival-kit

All the Holiday Season Struggles

Jess Spinner

Jess is a former professional ballet dancer turned Holistic Health, Nutrition, and Lifestyle Coach for high level dancers. She founded The Whole Dancer in 2015 after identifying a greater need for balance, wellness and support in the dance world. Since The Whole Dancer was founded, Jess has worked with 100's of dancers worldwide at top companies and schools. She has been featured in or written for Dance Magazine, Dance Teacher Magazine, Pointe Magazine, and Dance Spirit Magazine.

One thought on “All the Holiday Season Struggles

  • May 25, 2021 at 8:50 pm

    I’ll never forget; how, when I was growing up in the ’90s: my Dad had made a big deal about the classic Disney movie Fantasia being released onto home video (back then on vhs, lol!) finally after so many years (he’d, actually, had once seen a theatrical re-release of it as a kid in the 1950s). My first exposure to that music was seeing dancing mushrooms in that cartoon(!).

    I later learned it was the popularity of that movie which, almost singlehandedly, inspired American companies to begin staging entire productions of Tchaikovsky’s score (I think?: the first was in S.F. during the 1940s).


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