Being a dance student can be challenging, both in and outside the dance classes. Stress and anxiety occur daily among students, and these challenges can become overwhelming without a strong foundation of self-esteem. It’s possible to develop psychological skills to handle the pressures of dance training. This article will provide insights into practical methods for managing stress and anxiety through Dance.
Breathwork for Anxiety
Breathwork is a powerful tool that can be used to calm the mind and body, even in practical dance settings. By practicing breathwork, you can cope with stress and anxiety more effectively. Here’s how to incorporate breathwork into your routine:
Develop awareness: Pay attention to how your emotional state affects your performance. Recognize cognitive anxiety (negative thoughts) and somatic anxiety (physical manifestations of anxiety).
Biofeedback: Close your eyes and listen to your body. Observe your heart rate, breathing rate, and muscular tension. This will provide insight into how your body responds to stress and anxiety.
Deep inhalation: Take long, deep breaths through your nose. This releases nitric oxide, improving oxygen circulation by widening blood vessels. It triggers a relaxation response and eases muscle tension, enhancing coordination.
Extended exhalation: Lengthen your exhalation to stimulate the release of acetylcholine, a chemical transmitter that slows the heart rate.
Try using the Box Breath technique: Inhale for four seconds, hold for four seconds, exhale for four seconds, and hold for four seconds.
Journaling for Negative Thoughts
Negative self-talk is common among dancers and can limit our true potential. Journaling can help identify negative thoughts and replace them with more realistic and constructive perspectives. Here’s how to incorporate journaling into your practice:
Dedicate a space: Set aside a physical or digital journal.
Write down negative thoughts: Take note of any negative or self-critical thoughts that arise.
Identify triggers: Note the events that triggered these negative thoughts.
Reframe the thoughts: Challenge negative thoughts by rephrasing them realistically and positively. For example, instead of feeling insecure about a performance, remind yourself that you can perform well in the future.
By focusing on and challenging your thoughts, you can create distance and observe them more objectively. This technique can also process feedback and turn insecurity into motivation.
Imagery and Relaxation for Focus
Imagery and relaxation techniques help reduce distractions and improve focus during training or performance. Try Herbert Benson’s method, which incorporates meditation techniques:
Find a quiet place: Choose a calm environment with minimal distractions.
Get comfortable: Sit in a comfortable position.
Choose a word: Select a comment that doesn’t activate your thoughts, such as “calm” or “rest.”
Focus on the word: Say it aloud with each exhale and direct your attention to it. Let go of other thoughts or images that may arise and return to the word and your breath.
Affirmations are also valuable for developing self-belief and focusing on personal goals. Combine them with breathwork and relaxation techniques for an enhanced sense of well-being. Practice for at least 2 minutes in the morning, during your commute, and before sleep, gradually increasing the duration as you gain confidence.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
To achieve the best results, it is crucial to remember that practicing and being consistent with these psychological skills is necessary. Like any other skill, repetition and dedication are key to improvement. By making these techniques a habit and incorporating them into your daily routine, you can effectively manage stress and anxiety as a dance student. To support you on your journey, here are some additional tips.
Patience and persistence: Understand that change takes time. Be patient with yourself as you navigate the process of developing these skills. Consistency is key, so commit to practicing these techniques regularly.
Positive Atmosphere: It’s important to surround yourself with encouraging people and influences. Seek friends, mentors, or fellow dancers who understand and support your goals. Share your experiences and challenges with them, and you can encourage and motivate each other.
Self-care: Take care of your overall well-being. Sleep well, eat nutritious meals, and engage in physical activity outside of dance. Prioritize self-care activities that help you relax and recharge, such as taking baths, practicing mindfulness, or engaging in hobbies you enjoy.
Seek professional help when needed: If stress and anxiety become overwhelming or persistent, don’t hesitate to seek support from a mental health professional. They can provide guidance and strategies tailored to your specific needs and circumstances.
Recognize and honor your accomplishments as you progress. Recognize your progress, whether overcoming a specific challenge, achieving a personal goal, or simply staying committed to your practice. Rewarding yourself for your efforts will boost your motivation and self-esteem.
As a dance student, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone in dealing with the pressures of training. By using psychological skills, having a support system, and caring for yourself, you can handle your training demands and build the resilience necessary to succeed. It’s important to have confidence in yourself, remain dedicated to your objectives, and continue to strive toward them. You can overcome obstacles and become a successful dancer and artist. Keep dancing, confidently embrace your journey, and manage stress and anxiety through Dance!