As a dancer, your body is your most important tool. However, sometimes life throws a curveball, and you end up with an injury that limits your mobility and performance. Besides physical pain, an injury can take a toll on your confidence and mental health, especially if dancing is your passion and source of livelihood. Here are strategies for maintaining mental wellness during injury recovery, drawing from the experiences of a veteran dancer.
1. The Importance of a Support System
No one can go through a difficult time alone. Surround yourself with loved ones who encourage and support you during your recovery. Don’t be afraid to express your needs to your support system, whether it’s a shoulder to cry on or someone to drive you to appointments. An injury can make you feel isolated, but remember that you’re not alone.
2. Listen to Your Body
As dancers, we often push ourselves beyond our physical limits, training through the pain and fatigue. However, when you’re recovering from an injury, pushing yourself too hard can lead to setbacks that may prolong your recovery time. Listen to your body and give it the rest and care it needs. Follow your doctor’s orders and don’t rush your recovery. Remember that your recovery journey is unique, and comparing it to others will only harm your mental well-being.
3. Question Your Beliefs and Rules
Often, our beliefs and rules inform our actions and decision-making, particularly when it comes to dance. For instance, as a ballet dancer, you may believe that working hard means pushing through the pain, and that success defines your worth as a person. However, these narratives can be limiting and harmful. Re-evaluate your beliefs and establish new ones that align with your values and vision for your career.
4. Befriend Your Body
Our bodies are not just machines that exist solely for our use; they’re living organisms that need care and attention. As a dancer, it’s easy to disconnect from your body, treating it like an object to control and shape. However, injury can be an opportunity to reconnect with your body and treat it with care and support. Be kind to your body, nourish it with healthy foods, and give it time to rest and recover. You can also incorporate mindfulness or meditation practices to connect with your body and soothe your mind.
5. Explore Personal Development
An injury can expose deeper emotional, mental, and spiritual wounds that may have been suppressed previously. Use this time to explore personal development and self-discovery. Practice journaling, therapy, or mindfulness techniques, such as meditation or breathing exercises. You may also explore creativity or hobbies that you’ve been putting off, such as painting or writing.
The road to injury recovery can be challenging, but with the right mindset and support system, you can overcome the obstacles and come back stronger. Be patient with yourself, listen to your body, and take advantage of this time to learn and grow. Finally, if you’re struggling with mental health issues related to dance, check out the Confident Dancer Coaching Program (an individual mindset coaching program), designed to help dancers build a healthy mindset and overcome personal challenges. Remember, your body is your temple, and your mental health is as important as your physical health.
For more practical tips on how to deal with maintaining mental health during injury recovery, head over to The Confident Dancer YouTube channel and watch “Maintaining Mental Health During Injury Recovery: What Dancers NEED to Know”.