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Need some inspiration for staying in shape this summer? These four dancers know how to balance rest, cross-training and fun to start off their next season right.


Photo by Charlie McCullers, Courtesy Atlanta Ballet.

Jackie Nash

Atlanta Ballet

Typical summer break: mid-May–August

On rest: I need to take one solid week, at least, to let all those last bits of the season go. After Nutcracker we push straight through until May, so a lot of little things in my body need to heal, and I want to have some mental space to go over how the season went.

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Photo by Philippe Teston

In today's world, we talk a lot about stress relief. And it's true that taking time to relax and unwind is a necessary part of taking care of yourself as a dancer. But sometimes figuring out how to fit in that relaxation timeon top of all your classes, rehearsals and a fast-approaching Nutcracker seasononly seems to add stress. On your busiest days, you may have just a few minutes in between activities—not enough time for a soothing bath or rejuvenating yoga session. When you're in a pinch, here are a few research-backed strategies to help you relax fast:

Snack smarter. Make sure to bring snacks in your dance bag so you aren't rushing to find something to eat on top of everything else. And what should those snacks be? Not surprisingly, one study found that people tend to crave sweet, crunchy and salty foods more when they feel stressed out. But that doesn't mean reaching for a candy bar or bag of chips will make you feel better. Get in the habit of packing homemade trail mix, or munch on some baby carrots or a piece of fruit to satisfy those urges in a more nutritious way.


Look at something cute. Turns out watching cat videos on YouTube or scrolling through a slideshow of baby animal photos may do more than just cheer you up. It might help you focus when your break is over, too. One study found that participants were able to better perform tasks that required focused attention after looking at cute images.

Focus on your breath. It's been said before, but taking a moment to connect to your breathing may be the easiest and fastest way to relieve anxiety. And it doesn't have to be a full-on meditation session to have positive effects. Research has shown that practicing slow, deep breathing could help lower blood pressure and heart rate, as well as reduce the stress hormone cortisol.

 

 

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