Summer is supposed to be carefree and fun, but for dancers, the season often marks a transition out of your regular routine and into a new environment. While it's undoubtedly exciting, the summertime shake-up may also trigger feelings of stress and anxiety. We've gathered six of our best tips to help you adjust—and deal with anxiety—whether you're heading to an intensive, on leave for the summer or performing on tour.
Get your mind off of ballet.
Maintaining hobbies outside of dance and taking time to unwind with friends can help you relax. Dr. Brian Goonan, a psychologist who works with dancers at Houston Ballet, refers to this as having "good emotional hygiene." If anxiety is getting to you, try taking a walk, going swimming or reading in the sun.
Practice visualization and breathing techniques.
Are you nervous for a performance, audition or to be away from home? Dr. Nadine Kaslow, a psychologist who works with dancers at Atlanta Ballet, suggests that you "imagine the situation making you anxious, and picture handling it well." Taking deep breaths will also help slow a racing heart.
Though it might not seem like much, this "powerhouse herb" has been known to help calm anxiety. Inhaling its vapors may also improve athletic performance and increase focus. Try drinking a cup of peppermint tea during an afternoon break or before bed, or spritz some peppermint essential oil on your pillow for a more restful night.
Speaking of sleep...
Getting enough zzz's is crucial to warding off unwelcome anxious thoughts. Disrupted sleep can compromise the immune system and reduce healing. Plus, one study shows that people who go to bed later and sleep fewer hours tend to have more negative thoughts during the day than those who have a healthier sleep schedule. Just because the sun goes down later during the summer doesn't mean you have to change your routine. Prioritize sleep and you may find that you're more productive and positive throughout the day.
Limit time on social media.
If your friends are scattered for the summer, watching their lives unfold on Instagram and Facebook can bring up feelings of jealousy and loneliness. Research has shown that using social media actively, such as posting a shot of you and your fellow dancers backstage, is more beneficial than than scrolling through your Instagram feed wondering if everyone's summer is better than yours. Plus, if you're checking social media more frequently during the day, you're also likely to have trouble sleeping.
Take to the page.
If you feel like your thoughts are overwhelming you, try writing them down. Journaling has been found to increase self-esteem, and it might be fun to have the memories of your summer adventures to reflect on later.