By Kristin Yancy
STRESS. It’s both the enemy and the reality of life as a dancer (unless you are one of those people that has incredible inner zen, in which case, we envy you). The hustle and bustle of our daily grind can make it easy to let stress levels go unchecked. At the beginning of the month Fly Gyal covered some great ways to avoid burnout, but here are some stress relievers you can try on those days you just need a ten-minute break.
Take a walk Probably the oldest stress reliever in the book, walking improves circulation to your brain- literally “clearing your mind.” Bonus: according to some studies, long walks can improve memory, help prevent diabetes, and by increasing the number of calories your body uses daily, aid in weight management.
Scream into a pillow This is one for the aspiring musical theater dancers to avoid, but releasing pent-up emotion is a great way to alleviate stress- and this angsty-teenage-girl classic is quick way to let off some steam. Need to get in touch with your emotional side but screaming is not your thing? Try a good cry. I know, I know, Fly Gyals are big tough girls and it’s not cool to cry (and crying in a professional setting is always something to avoid). But tears are your body’s natural way of alleviating stress hormones- check out this Huffington Post article on some of the amazing emotional health benefits of crying.
Take two “creative” minutes Doodling may be good for focus! A study done at the University of Plymouth in England showed that participants who doodled while listening to a 2 ½ minute voice recording were able to recall almost 30% more detail from the message than those who did not. So get yourself a pencil and a piece of scrap paper and let your inner kid out for a couple of minutes. Draw anything! There’s no such thing as a bad doodle.
Give yourself a little massage therapy Applying some steady pressure to areas where you tend to hold tension may relieve stress you didn’t even know you were carrying! Focus on the head (temples, forehead, base of the skull), the neck and shoulders (try making a cup shape with your hand and resting it on your shoulder, then pressing gently in a circular motion with your index, middle, and ring fingers), and your hands (especially the area around your thumbs!).
Stretch Stressed muscles are tight muscles. Stretching can help relieve this tension and also increase circulation in the body- maybe giving you just the wake up you needed!
Try a quick workout It’s common knowledge that exercise releases endorphins that, according to WebMD, “are chemicals which interact with the receptors in your brain [that] reduce your perception of pain.” When it comes to relieving stress, a little exercise can go a long way. Try some of your favorite yoga positions, a few sets of jumping jacks, or, if you have the time, a quick jog. Anything that gets your blood pumping, even momentarily, can help release anxiety and boost energy.
Have a healthy snack If your stress is connected to the kind of busy schedule that doesn’t leave much time for lunch, slow down for a second and feed the machine! If you’re running low on energy you are far more likely to be irritable, tired, and stressed. A healthy snack can give your body the nutrition it needs to power you through a crazy situation.
Make a checklist Making a checklist is a great way to avoid the “I know I’m forgetting something…” part of stress. Prioritize the things that must get done that day, and then follow with less urgent items. Chances are you’ll realize you had less to do than you thought. (Need a little pick me up? Write some things on the list that you’ve already done and cross them off- that way when you look at it, you’ll see what you’ve already accomplished!)
Free write Emotional release is an important part of stress management, and writing down how you’re feeling (and why) can be an effective tool not only for releasing stress, but for dealing with it once you’ve calmed down. Seeing your thoughts on paper may give you the opportunity to assess the situation more practically later. Just remember to keep these written notes in a safe place if you’re not ready to share them with the world.
Think positive It may sound cheesy, but positive imagery can help you step back and refocus if a situation has become stressful. Remember a time when you successfully dealt with a similar issue, imagine yourself accomplishing a goal, or think about something that makes you smile. “Happy thoughts” are a real and powerful mental tool to change your attitude towards a problem.
Photo via sleepdisorders.doylan.com