Competition season is one of the best times of the year, but it often requires more work, time, and energy than any other time (except maybe Nutcracker season!). While it’s important to put in the effort to prepare for your competitions, showcases, and exams, it’s also important to take care of yourself! Check out our top tips to make sure that your mind and body are taken care of during this whirlwind time of year.
Tip #1 - Fuel and Hydrate!
When you’re putting your body through more rehearsals, classes, and competition prep than usual, it’s extra important to fuel and hydrate properly. Make sure you’re drinking enough water and eating properly throughout the day. At home, fuel for your day properly with good meals to help your body recover and stay strong. When you’re on the go, keep your dance bag properly stocked with snacks and drinks to keep your energy up.
Tip #2 - Rest!
Sleep is the only way our bodies truly recover and rest. It’s important that you’re getting a good amount of sleep every night, but especially when you’re adding extra physical activity into your routine. Unplug from your phone before bed (experts say to avoid technology at least an hour before) and take some time to unwind from the day, maybe with a bath or a relaxing yoga session, and hit the hay early.
Tip #3 - Stretch and Strengthen!
Feeling a bit sore? Noticing your muscles are tight after a long day of rehearsal? Make sure you’re taking care of your body by stretching and strengthening any weaker muscle groups. Yoga, pilates, and consulting a physiotherapist are great ways to strengthen weaker muscles, and properly stretch not just to gain flexibility, but to help your muscles and body recover from the impact dance can have! Feeling sore from standing and dancing at the studio all day? Our favourite tip is to soak your feet in hot water (but not too hot) with epsom salts. It’s so soothing, and can really help ease your aching feet!
Tip #4 - Breath!
Do you forget to breathe when you’re nervous? You’re not alone. Making sure that you’re taking deep breaths and not holding your breath by accident can help reduce any nerves you may have. It’s also really important when you’re dancing not to hold your breath! Our favourite tip is to elongate your exhale, which is a very grounding breathwork practice. Try this next time you’re feeling worried: Inhale for 4 counts into your belly, gently hold for 4 counts, and then slowly exhale for 6 counts. Repeat, and watch your nerves melt away!
Tip #5 - Dealing with Anxiety and Stress!
If you’re feeling confident in your dance, and excited for competition, but still have that ache in your stomach, you could be feeling a bit anxious or stressed. These are completely normal ways to feel when having to perform, so much so that it has a name: Performance Anxiety! Doing the breathing exercise above, and talking to family and friends (especially your dance friends!) about your mental health can help so much. Some of our other favourite tips to reduce these feelings are to:
1- Tell yourself that you have practiced and are prepared. This mantra can be anything that works for you, just make sure it’s clear: “I am ready and prepared, and can only do my best!”
2- Reduce sugar and caffeine, these stimulants can accelerate the feelings of anxiousness.
3- Don’t focus on what can go wrong. If you do find your mind slipping there, switch the narrative in your head, “I may fall, and that’s okay, I’ll get up and keep going!”
4- Take your mind off of it. Grab a friend and ask to run through the routine, get your team together and do a light warm up, or see who can tell the best joke on the fly. Anything that reminds you that you’re not alone, and that you’re going on stage to go have fun can help!
We hope you have an amazing time during competition season, but also remember you only get one body, and you need to take care of it! Take the time you need to rest, eat, and hydrate, stay confident in your training, and enjoy the process!