Self-Love and Self-Care for Dancers This Month and Always…
A guest blog post by Jess Spinner ( The Whole Dancer)
This month and always, dancers benefit from caring for themselves. This includes the more basic things like allowing rest without guilt, vegging out without obsessing over your to-do list, or simply sleeping when you’re tired. (Naps are amazing!)
A connection not often made with self-care is how significantly it can impact body image. Caring for yourself creates a communication between your body and mind that you’re worthy of time, attention, and care. As dancers, you expect so much of your body and mind that you can benefit even more from directing your down time to the things that help your body, mind, and spirit recover.
Ways to get started
Self-care can really encompass a lot of things. It’s about nourishing yourself adequately, finding routines that support your most balanced day, and creating a home environment that’s inviting and comfortable. There’s no real wrong or right when it comes to self-care. There are no bars or minimums to be met, but think about what allows you to feel supported, and plan those things into your life.
Organizing your life and to-do list is a form of self-care. This can help you to feel more prepared for upcoming schedules and rehearsals, and you’ll lessen stress and anxiety around those commitments. A morning routine that helps you feel prepared for the day and an evening routine that helps you wind down can ground you at the start and end of a busy schedule.
Take time for skincare, baths, dry brushing, massage, hot towel scrubs, or any other activities that actually support deeper relaxation of your muscles, body, and mind. To start implementing self-care practices, first get clear on what feels supportive to you. Make a list of things you might like to incorporate, then start small and include just one or two new things each week.
Adequate, Proper Nutrition
Your relationship to food and your food choices are often left out of the self-care conversation. Nourishing yourself with food that supports your dancing and health is a form of self-care. It’s also incredibly important to find a balance with more indulgent foods to prioritize joy in your food experience as well.
A lot of dancers, unfortunately, get into more restrictive habits with food, leaving them undernourished and often creating lots of rules around food. To adequately fuel yourself, it helps to unpack any moralizing you might be doing of the food you eat; labeling it as “good” or “bad” means you might be avoiding things your body needs to function at its highest level.
Start with some basics and include carbohydrates, protein, and fat at each meal. Plan to have at least three meals and two snacks each day. And keep in mind that some dancers require more than just two snacks in a day. Incorporate lots of whole foods when you’re able, but also know that it’s OK to include packaged convenience foods. Read the ingredient labels (skip the nutrition facts) on your packaged snacks, and look for choices that have lots of recognizable ingredients.
Food is love, so love yourself up with lots of nutrient-dense, calorically sufficient food you really enjoy eating.
Journaling and Gratitude
Include practices in your day that encourage calm. Dancing all day is busy! At the end of a long day, after you enjoy a replenishing meal, consider writing or reading to encourage self-reflection and growth.
Journaling is something I recommend to many of the dancers I work with because it’s a great opportunity to acknowledge what’s going well in your life. A great place to start is with a short gratitude list at the end of the day.
At the end of each day, ask yourself: What went well? What am I grateful to my body for doing? How did my body serve me?
Asking yourself these simple questions on a consistent basis will let you build great appreciation for all your body does for you, not only in dance but also in life.
As a former pro dancer and now a health, nutrition, and lifestyle coach for dancers, I’ve seen the benefits of a thought- out self- care routine for the dancers I work with. Think of your self- care activities as another way to express gratitude to your body for all it does for you in the studio.
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.
Jess is seen here wearing our Count In necklace and The Hoop Dreams earrings.
To learn more about The Whole Dancer and Jess click here.
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