Taking breaks from the studio: Top tips for productivity and self care

November Issue 2021

Breaks from the studio are always nice after a tiring, stressful term or rehearsal period however, I for one, always worry about how I will keep my training and fitness up during this time. This is understandable as it is as if we go from all to nothing which can be quite a shock to the system. I have compiled a list of some tips that I often use that may help you to care for yourself during the holidays and time away from your intense daily regimes.

My first tip is to not stop activity completely. Taking your body from a full time, intense timetable to no physical activity at all can be a shock to the system and could result in the body almost seizing up and loss of mobility. This most certainly does not mean you should complete the exact same schedule at home that you did at college or in rehearsals, but make sure you complete some form of activity often. This could simply consist of a small stretching session or yoga classes a few times a week or a short body weight strengthening circuit just to get blood pumping around the body or even a daily walk with your family. Also, exercise releases endorphins which can promote a good mood, relieving stress from the body. This can also be helpful if you are feeling down about having a break from dance and performing and are missing the social and studio environment.

My second tip is to create a routine for yourself. Having the freedom of not having to follow a busy schedule and having to tactically divide your time outside of the studio can often leave us almost lost and perhaps confused. Now we actually have the time to socialise, see our loved ones and complete that to-do list that has been waiting to be completed. I create a loose schedule for myself and small to do lists each day so that I can use my time effectively, achieve what I want to and also make sure that I rest and recover. Also, I find that splitting my time to do tasks and larger projects that require more time so that I can be as productive as possible. However, having a schedule may not be for everyone and there is no pressure to do this because it suits other people. You may prefer to see where the day may take you and I often work like this too. Find what works for you and utilise this. 

Furthermore, I also like to sign up to open classes, intensives and summer schools during the holidays run order to keep myself motivated and in the loop with the performing arts world. It also allows me to meet new people, continue learning and also experience new styles and ways of working with new choreographers and teachers that I have not been taught by before. There are always local studios holding these events and these can often be found advertised online and on various social media platforms. The cost for these events  may vary depending on the duration, location and creatives attending so this may not be an option for everyone. Online classes are also available on online platforms too, many of which are free so do your research as there may be something for you.

One tip that I cannot stress enough is getting enough sleep. This is so important as sleep allows your body to rest and recover and allows you to feel energised in order to carry out the daily tasks that lie ahead. As dancers we do need more sleep and rest than the average person due to the amount of physical activity we ensure regularly. Make sure that you allow yourself enough time to sleep and rest each day so that you can remain healthy, safe and maintain a stable physical and mental personal environment. Following on from this, make sure you fuel your body too. As well as sleeping enough, we also need to be providing our bodies with enough energy from food sources. 

Breaks from the studio and rehearsals are the perfect time to care for those little niggles and injuries that have perhaps been causing us pain and discomfort. Take the time to care for your body. Stretch out any tight muscles, soothe pain with ice and heat and take hot showers or baths to care for tired muscles. Simply resting and relaxing can be helpful and do not overdo it with any training that you decide to complete during your breaks. It is also important that we care for our bodies as well as our minds. Self care practice is important and we should include this into our days often. Self care doesn’t have to be big or explicit, it can be as simple as thinking about what you are grateful for, what you are proud of, reflecting on your journey or going for a walk to take in the fresh air and vitamin D from natural sunlight. 

My final tip is to watch live or virtual performances, shows and other forms of creative and performing arts in order to remain in the loop. This can also help you to learn new things about the industry, yourself and other creatives around the world, as well as keeping you entertained. You may be able to learn new skills, find new interests and discover things you were unaware of before that perhaps excite and motivate you.

I hope some of these tips were in some way helpful to you and you can use them yourself to make the most out of your breaks. To reiterate, these may not work for everyone so finding what works for you is best, this list has been compiled based on my own experiences and talks with my peers in the industry. 

‘Sometimes you don’t always get what you want because you deserve something better that is waiting for you’

Costello

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