Today’s Q&A for Dancers’ Mental Health is about self-care.
Question: Do you have any day-to-day simple calming techniques for dancers who feel overwhelmed?
Meditation, breathing and visualisations.
For good mental health meditation is helpful. If you don’t practice mindfulness meditation already then there are a number of meditation apps which you can download. Find one that suits you as you may find the voices on the app annoying, which won’t help you relax.
Here is one of many calming breathing exercises:
Breathe in through your nose to the count of four, hold for four and then breathe out through pursed lips, and make a noise, to the count of eight. Then take four shallow (normal) breaths before repeating the deeper breathing. If you start feeling lightheaded then go back to your normal breathing until the dizzy feeling goes. Only do four cycles of this breathing exercise.
If you already have a guided visualisation CD then you can use it and if you haven’t there are plenty on sale or free on Youtube. Here is one of my own recorded visualisations It runs for about 10 minutes. A walk in the Valley.
You can of course use your own imagination. Sit in a quiet place where you know that you won’t be disturbed, close your eyes, and take yourself off to a place, whether real or imaginary, that brings peace and tranquility to your mind and stay there until you feel more relaxed.
Beyond being calmed
If you reach a stage where none of the above can calm you, take a walk
outside to get some fresh air to give yourself some space. When you get back, write all the things that have wound to up. Having done that, go through the list and ask yourself if each of those things that you wrote actually matters at this time. Those that don’t matter, cross them off your list. You may find that you have crossed them all off your list, but if not, then the items that are left may be more manageable for you to deal with. Writing a journal of your thoughts and what is happening to you is very useful. Write down what you want out of life, however outlandish it may appear to be.
If you continue to become anxious and panicky then I advise you to seek professional help. You could email me for some initial advice but remember the time difference from wherever you are emailing, when expecting a reply.