Ways to Cope with Burnout

Burnout – a very real mental issue for dancers that can get even the best of us. It’s the dread of going to the studio, not feeling motivated in class, wishing you were anywhere else during rehearsal. Even the dancers who are the most passionate about dance feel this way at one time or another.

Why does this happen? Well, there is no set reason why burnout happens, and it’s different for each person. A few possible reasons why you might be feeling impassioned include: going a long period without a day off, lack of sleep, stress, Seasonal Affective Disorder (especially during the winter months), and lack of self-care time.

Life happens and so does burnout. So let’s talk about a few days to cope with burnout so you can happily jump back into the studio.

Spend Time with Friends

Call your friends and make a friend date. You don’t even have to go out; it could be watching a movie at home or drinking tea and catching up. Use this time to talk about your in studio mental struggles, but also make sure to take a break from studio talk and have a good laugh. If your close friend doesn’t live nearby, schedule a Skype date.

If none of your friends are free, take yourself on a me date. Go to your favorite coffee place, buy a drink and/or snack, and read a book. Go to a museum or a movie. Find something that is a “treat yo self” moment.

spend time with friends

Friends and family are your support system. Don’t be afraid to use them, especially when you are in a mental place where you need extra support and love. Know who your key support people are and have them on speed dial.

Get Your Feelings Out

Sometimes it just helps to get your feelings out, whether it’s journaling, improving, talking with a friend, or singing at the top of your lungs.

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When you write, it could be a free writing ramble, a bullet journal, a poem, or just doodles. The main point of this exercise is just to let the emotions go, instead of keeping them bottled up inside.

If you chose to improv, pick a song or your favorite artist and just dance. It doesn’t have to be in the studio while you’re wearing leotard and tights. You could be in your room dancing in your pajamas to Spice Girls. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as the improv reminds you how good it feels to move.

Create a playlist for when you choose to sing your emotions out. I have a playlist of my favorite songs to belt while I’m driving home after a long day for this exact reason.

Go To Yoga

It’s cross-training, stretching, meditation, and depending on the style- a good sweat. Go to yoga to give yourself time and space to take care of yourself and just breathe. If meditation or a breath focused class would better serve you, take a Hatha class. If you just need to move to clear your mind, consider taking Vinyasa or a heated Power Flow class. No one yoga class with serve your needs each day or week, so be open to trying different styles depending on your current needs.

Make a Meal

Make a meal you would not normally have time to make during a busy week. During the week, we sometimes fall back on recipes that are familiar and easy to make, which can sometime lead to feeling as if you’re in a food rut. Try a new recipe, put yourself outside your usual food choices, and cooking habits. It’s so satisfying spending a free evening creating a recipe that takes upward of an hour. You get a delicious result and a sense of accomplishment. Plus, this is another great idea for a relaxing friend date.  

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Read a Book of Watch a Movie

Pick a form of entertainment that will allow you to step into another world for 2-3 hours. Find a story that will lift your spirits, make you laugh, and maybe even cry. I would not recommend watching a tv show, because it is very easy to turn watching one episode into a six hour long binge.

Take an Epsom Salt Bath

Give your body some TLC and do an Epsom salt bath to help relax your muscles. Add some lavender oil for a calming effect.

Go for a Walk or Hike

Living in the city (New York City), I am definitely a creature of habit: I walk to work the same way every day, I take the same subway lines. One my free days, I like to change it up and explore different parts of the city (which is often part of my me dates). I’ve found some great tea and healthy lunch places while exploring. This change of pace feels like a much needed breath of fresh air compared to my usual rush to get where I need to go (fast).

If you live in a more suburban or rural area, enjoy nature and go for a short hike. Another great way to enjoy nature’s beauty is by going to a botanical garden. It can be very relaxing to walk and sit amongst the flowers.

At the end of the day, listen to what your body and mind says it needs. Spend time attending to those needs so you can refuel and rejuvenate yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally.

The Whole Dancer Intern Bio

Coping with Burnout in Dance

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.

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