In my last few posts, I’ve been exploring things that can get in the way of a dancer’s healthy mindset. Today, let’s take a look at stress. Between juggling schedules, expectations, schoolwork, choreography, performances, auditions, and constant feedback, it’s no wonder why dancers, dance teachers, and dance parents are often stressed.
Here’s where I see stress come up most often for each group:
Dancers:high pressured environments at school and dance, rarely having a day off, financial worries (especially for professional dancers), long hours at the studio followed by long nights of homework, frequent lack of sleep, jam-packed schedules, managing the expectations of parents and teachers, competition, and auditions.
Teachers: boundaries with students and parents, lack of days off, pressure from parents/peers/bosses, too busy schedules with little downtime, preparing dancers for the stage, and complaints from parents.
Dance Parents: financial obligations of raising a dancer, busy schedule with little downtime for you or your child, pressure from teachers and other parents, frequent traveling, managing your dancer’s schedule, and observing stress in your dancer.
There are different types of stress, and not all are bad. In fact,eustress is a type of stress that can be beneficial to our growth and development. This is the state of stress when we are facing something new, out of our comfort zone. It is the stress we feel when faced with a challenge, but feel adequate and confident to handle it. Evenacute stress, which is the short term stress we feel daily when we’re stuck in traffic, get in an argument, or have a tough rehearsal prepping for a big performance isn’t bad when it’s temporary. Our bodies are made to respond to short-term stress by activating the sympathetic nervous system, or the fight-or-flight response. Once the stressor or threat has passed, the body typically returns to its pre-stress state.
The problem lies when stress becomes chronic. Acute stress can become chronic if it becomes more frequent or lasts for longer periods of time.Elizabeth Scott, MS, explains, “chronic stress results from a state of ongoing physiological arousal. This occurs when the body experiences stressors with such frequency or intensity that the autonomic nervous system does not have an adequate chance to activate the relaxation response on a regular basis.” You can check outthis list from Medical News Today to see a full list of signs and symptoms of chronic stress, including irritability, trouble sleeping, fatigue, and low self-esteem.
Let’s take a look at some things you can doin the moment to reduce stress. These are great to do right before class, rehearsal, auditions, or performances.
Here are some daily habits to practice to reduce stress:
The demands of life as a dancer, dance teacher, and dance parent can be tough and stress-inducing. I hope these tips and tools can help you both in the moment and to proactively reduce stress in your daily life.If you’d like support while you go through this process, or if you’re interested in my work, head to mywebsite to learn more and see how we can work together to build your healthy mindset to navigate the dance world at your best. You can also find me onInstagram for more free tools, resources, and inspiration.
Ashley Mowrey is a Performance Mindset Coach and Educator located in Fayetteville, AR. She holds a B.A. in Psychology from The University of Arkansas and is a trained facilitator in Tara Mohr’s Playing Big Leadership Program for Women. Ashley trained as a competitive dancer out of Dallas, TX before teaching and eventually directing a company and dance studio in Fayetteville, AR. It was during those years that she felt drawn towards the dancer’s mindset and the need for training and tools in the dance community. Now, as a Performance Mindset Coach, she is also a dance specialist with Dancers for Doctors. Ashley has also recently been featured on Dance Studio Amplified Podcast, (Ep. 14), Dance Boss University Mastermind guest presenter, and episode 58 of Dance Boss Podcast.