The Power of Journaling for Dancers
It’s become very clear over the past decade or so that the practice of keeping a journal is beneficial. Studies have shown that it can have a positive impact on happiness, reaching goals, and even physical health. It’s shown to be particularly valuable to write down things you’re grateful for each day.
When I work with dancers, journaling is a pretty consistent recommendation. Dancers tend to see big benefits because pre-professional training and professional dance jobs can be stress inducing. You’re in a competitive environment where many dancers are vying for the same place or job. If your sights are set on a specific training program or company, there’s even more pressure.
There’s a lot to process, and dancers tend to have particularly active inner critics. That little voice in your head has gotten so used to telling you all the things wrong with you, it’s hard to catch a break. Writing can help you shift that internal narrative.
If you’re ready to start a consistent journal practice, having a bank of prompts can make getting started much easier. That’s why I created this worksheet with “30 Journal Prompts” for dancers. Sign up to get it here. The prompts include topics related to body image, food, confidence, and your relationship to dance.
Having a topic each day will allow you to find direction and work to release the judgment. That’s something you might also struggle with in getting started: wanting to be perfect in your writing. Even when we journal just for ourselves, there might be pressure to be some unflawed version of yourself. Let it be raw, real, and messy. It’s just for you; let it all hang out!
Here are some practical tips to build a consistent journaling habit:
1. Start small. Just a couple of minutes a day is enough.
Part of what makes it feel so hard to start something new is we put big expectations on ourselves. We think, if I don’t write for 30 minutes a day, it doesn’t “count” or “it’s not worth it.” Remove those self-created measures of “success” and allow yourself to just do a little and consider it a win (this applies to many areas of life).
2. Weave the habit into an existing habit.
Do you have a relatively consistent morning routine? Pick a time within that set routine to add in your journaling. It’s much easier to start and maintain a new habit when added into things you’re already doing consistently.
3. No pressure, let it be ugly.
This isn’t for anyone’s eyes but your own. You don’t have to show up as some “perfect” version of you. Be real in your writing. It will likely help you to show up more authentically in other areas of your life as well.
4. When you have nothing else to write about, write about what you’re grateful for.
“Research indicates that regularly practicing grateful thinking can move your emotional ‘set point’ for happiness by as much as 25 percent in the right direction.” Writing down what you’re grateful for (and for dancers, I often suggest writing down why you’re grateful to your body in particular) can increase happiness.
5. Start with a friend.
Do you have a friend who might be into journaling too? Reach out and set up a way to keep one another accountable (text or talk each day to confirm that you’ve journaled).
Take it a step further.
Once you’ve downloaded your “Journal Prompts for Dancers” worksheet, get to journaling. It’s going to help to establish a strong “why” behind your desire to start this practice. Is your goal to build confidence? To come back to uplifting and support thoughts and affirmations each day? Whatever it is, get clear on what’s possible simply by committing to a daily journal practice.