by Ashley Werhun
Mental stress and strain can lead to burnout and depression, and it can be a major roadblock in not only a dance career, but in leading a healthy life. Here are a few thoughts on how we, as dancers, can take steps to support our mental health…and that of our fellow dancers.
Resist Negative Thinking
It is part of the human condition for our brain to make up stories. Our psyche connects the dots with the information we have to draw a conclusion for a scenario. How many times have you not been cast, and your brain thinks, “I am not good enough for that role” or, “I shouldn’t be in this company, I don’t fit in?”
Rarely would it say, “There must be something better coming” or, “I think the role I am in will challenge me in the exact way I need to grow.” Simply recognizing that our brains may tend to slant towards the negative is empowering and helps us evaluate whether or not this “story” our brains made up is actually true.
Often times I encountered this exact scenario. One time I even naively went to my director, concerned that I wasn’t integrated enough on stage and he said, “Patience Ashley–I didn’t put you in this rep that much because you will be the lead in the next creation”. I walked out and reminded myself to trust. Trust yourself, and trust that the director/choreographer is doing what is best for the company and for the production. This situation was a blunt reminder to get out of my thoughts and back into the work.
The Power of Positive Talking – WebMD
The Power of Positive Self-Talk – Psychology Today