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Mentally Fit: How Houston Dancers Can Stay Inspired

Staying motivated and inspired as you work toward your goals and dreams is not always easy to do. This is especially true for dancers, other types of performers, and artists, all relying on passion, creativity, and self-expression to help propel them forward. It only makes sense that from time to time, we encounter some obstacles and plateaus along our journey, sometimes causing us to lose inspiration and feel like we are in a rut. We want to let you know that first and foremost, this is all completely normal and simply part of the process. We also would like to provide you with some simple solutions regarding how Houston dancers can stay inspired.

“By staying within the confines of your current world in dance, you are essentially limiting your possibilities in the long-term.”

When you are a dedicated dancer, whether that is professional or otherwise, there is often an immense amount of pressure put on you. This pressure comes in many forms and from a lot of directions, one of them being the idea that when you are a dancer, you cannot or should not do anything that might distract you from dance. However, from our own personal experience with dancers on our team, as well as having the privilege to work alongside countless dancers in Houston, our opinion on the matter is actually far from that.

Broaden Your Horizons

By staying within the confines of your current world in dance, you are essentially limiting your possibilities in the long-term. Yes, you have worked tirelessly, putting in so many hours of hard work, sweat, and tears to get to where you are, but we have to step outside of our comfort zones if we really want to grow. You might be wondering what exactly we mean and why it all matters but stick with us.

Play around with different ways of expanding your world through gaining new knowledge, seeking new experiences, and “researching” through other creative mediums such as books, painting, and acting. According to this fascinating article by Scientific American, openness to new experiences (technically defined as the drive for cognitive exploration of inner experience) is linked to a seemingly endless list of benefits. We already know that new experiences enrich our lives, but it goes so much deeper than this; the positive effects ripple outward.

“By allowing yourself to take a break for new experiences and exploring other creative outlets, you in turn are going to be a more well-rounded dancer.”

Curiosity and new experiences foster creativity, a hugely vital component of dance. This is exactly why reading a captivating novel that offers new perspectives and allows you to step into the shoes of another character, living a life vastly different than your own, can be so powerful.

The same is true for drawing, painting, acting, playing an instrument, or any other form of creative expression. Aside from these things helping to significantly help with coping with stress and anxiety, they also evoke something deep within you; it is that same part of you that fell in love with dance. Cultivating new experiences nurtures creativity and is a perfect way dancers can stay inspired. It has a synergistic effect.

By allowing yourself to take a break for new experiences and exploring other creative outlets, you in turn are going to be a more well-rounded dancer. You will be able to fully give yourself to your dance practice because you have more to give since you are nurturing all aspects of yourself. Furthermore, your expression in your own performance and dancing will be deepened.

Mental Fitness

We are all too familiar with the importance of staying physically fit for optimal health. Physical fitness and connection to the physical body are always at the forefront of priorities as a dancer. However, mental fitness is not to be forgotten, as it is just as crucial for one’s health and wellbeing. The more mentally strong we are, the more self-acceptance and self-compassion we are able to have while seeking self-improvement.

“As you increase your resiliency, you are also helping to ensure your inspiration levels stay high because you realize that setbacks and obstacles are going to happen, but they do not define you.”

Mental fitness is the secret ingredient to helping you reach your highest potential since it helps with proper emotion regulation and thought management. When you do not get trapped in a negative thought cycle and are able to move through it in a healthy way that works for you, you then can focus your energy on what is most important to you. We all have negative self-talk from time to time, and negative thoughts are going to pop up. It is unfortunately just part of the human experience; however, it is how we deal with them and respond that matters.

Moreover, staying mentally fit is directly connected to how dancers can stay inspired. As you increase your resiliency, you are also helping to ensure your inspiration levels stay high because you realize that setbacks and obstacles are going to happen, but they do not define you. You are confident that you can move past them with ease and grace, and step back into your power. That alone will help you feel even more inspired.

Avoid Burnout

Burnout is a very real thing that can take place in all areas of life, whether it is our jobs, hobbies, or relationships. According to this article, burnout is defined as “a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands.”

Overtraining and not giving yourself enough recovery time can lead to burnout. Likewise, so can things like not taking care of yourself and allowing yourself to take a break to enjoy other things you love. This directly ties back into what we meant before about allowing yourself to explore other forms of creativity and creative expression. By avoiding burnout, you can stay connected to your joy and your “why.” Only you know your “why,” the one that pulled you in toward dance and helped you fall in love with your practice.

“By nurturing one, you are nurturing all. Your movements and fluidity in dance are, of course, controlled by the body, but your mind and your spirit are playing just as much of a role as the body.”

Mind-Body-Spirit Connection

You cannot achieve complete health and wellbeing without nurturing not only the body, but also the mind and the spirit. It is important to acknowledge that these three areas of wellbeing are not separate entities, but rather, different elements of one entity that are deeply intertwined with one another. By nurturing one, you are nurturing all. Your movements and fluidity in dance are, of course, controlled by the body, but your mind and your spirit are playing just as much of a role as the body. It just is not nearly as obvious to the eye.

Think about it: the performances you have watched that were the most moving are the ones that are not just about the physical; the performances are infused with emotion that is being communicated and expressed through movement.

Prioritize Rest and Recovery Time

Now that things are slowly picking back up and resuming some sense of pre-pandemic normalcy, it might be tempting to double down and overcommit. Even before the pandemic, giving yourself and your body time to recover was critical. Muscles have to have some time off to be able to properly repair and rebuild, which is essential to staying healthy. On top of the physical necessity of a little R&R, it is also just as crucial for your mental wellbeing. By making sure you are giving yourself enough time to rest and recover, you will be taking care of yourself and helping yourself to reset and stay motivated. This article brilliantly breaks down why rest and recovery time are what can truly help take your dance to the next level.

“By nurturing one, you are nurturing all. Your movements and fluidity in dance are, of course, controlled by the body, but your mind and your spirit are playing just as much of a role as the body.”

One of the best ways to manage the wellbeing of mind-body-spirit, which has profound effects, is by developing some sort of mindfulness practice. Mindfulness helps reduce stress, improves attention and memory, reduces blood pressure, amongst a laundry list of other benefits. A nice thing about practicing mindfulness is that it can be done at any time, anywhere. You can practice mindfulness while dancing, walking in nature, washing the dishes, driving, and cooking.

Mindfulness helps us with acceptance in all of its forms by learning how to encounter experiences without judgment. This beautifully helps with building self-trust and self-confidence. Higher levels of self-confidence are important because they carry over into how dancers can stay inspired.

We know there are going to be natural lulls in your inspiration as a dancer. When these start to show up, try to be patient with yourself. You do not have to keep your head down and force your way through to the brink of exhaustion. You can give yourself a moment to pause, explore something else to feel rejuvenated, and pick back up where you left off. We hope you feel more grounded in the ways dancers can stay inspired. Additionally, it is our aim to help you feel some reassurance by being more equipped with some of these strategies to implement when those moments arise. Above all, though, we hope you will continue to be gentle with yourself and offer yourself the grace to make adjustments and figure it out along the way. 

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