Professional dancers, even serious dancers on the amateur level, are athletes in their own right! The demands for high levels of physical energy and mental alertness for prolonged periods, for both rehearsals and shows, will eventually take its toll on the mind and body. This is especially true when dancers fail to adopt effective coping strategies, in light of their hectic schedules, stressful lives, and poor eating habits, among others.
Many, if not most, dancers have higher risks for injuries and illnesses ranging from broken bones to broken spirits (i.e., depression and anxiety) for these reasons. Fortunately, there are several ways of ensuring that your mind and body can deal well with the demands of a dancer’s life!
Drink for Physical Energy
Aside from drinking your favorite energy drink brand, such as 5 Hour Energy, before and during rehearsals and performances, you must ensure proper hydration during the day and night. Keep in mind that your body needs water and fluids – plenty of it, for that matter – to maintain its optimal performance, especially when you place it under stress. Your body will demand fluids to replace what has been lost due to perspiration as well as to feed the cells.
A few tips in this regard:
- Bring a bottle of water wherever you may be so that you’re never without fluid.
- Drink at least eight ounces of water every two hours by sipping on your water bottle every chance you get.
- Drink a bottle of your preferred energy drink for an added boost of energy as well as for hydration.
Be sure to limit your energy drink consumption during the day, however, so as to get the most benefit from these products. You should ideally stick to the recommended number of energy drinks per day, usually just 1-2 bottles or cans daily.
Always Eat Your Healthy Breakfast
Even with your hectic schedules and late night shows, you should always eat your healthy breakfast – or at least, your healthy brunch, if you can’t make it in time for a proper breakfast.
Your mind and body will appreciate the nutrients from the fresh fruits, whole grains and whole grain bread, and nuts and seeds, perhaps with fresh orange juice. You will also need these foods to kick-start your metabolism in preparation for the day’s activities.
Eat Nutrient-Dense Foods
Aside from your healthy breakfast, you should also choose nutrient-dense food for your lunch, dinner and snacks. The emphasis is on nutrient-rich foods because foods with empty calories will cause sub-optimal cellular performance. You will then feel tired early in the day and sluggish for the rest of it.
- Choose fruits and vegetables, beans, whole grains, lean protein sources, and nuts and seeds instead of burgers and the like.
- Keep your body supplied with nutrient-rich food every three hours. This will keep your blood sugar as stable as possible and your physical energy level up. When you skip on the small yet frequent meals, you are letting your body become too hungry resulting in cravings for junk food and feelings of sluggishness.
- Combine protein, fats and complex carbs for your meals and snacks, which will regulate the release of sugar into the blood. You can avoid overeating and energy dips because of it.
Consider Nutritional Supplements
Even with a healthy diet, however, you may be unable to get all of the needed nutrients from food alone. You should consider nutritional supplements that increases your energy levels, among other benefits. Even a multivitamin supplement taken daily can help.
Your focus should ideally be on omega-3 essential fatty acids, which have been proven essential in improved energy, mood and memory. The best sources are avocados, fish, flax seeds, walnuts, and fish oil.
Get Sufficient Sleep
While many dancers may adopt the motto “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”, this isn’t such a good idea even when you’re young and healthy. Your body needs 6-8 hours of sleep every night so that it can recover from the stress placed on it during your rehearsals and shows. You will find, too, that poor sleeping patterns will affect your physical energy, mental focus, and overall performance.
Since many shows can finish late in the night, you should seriously consider whether to attend the after-show parties or hit the sack. You may attend a late-night party tonight but, if possible, you must skip the party tomorrow night. Your body will be better for it.
Being a dancer demands dedication to keeping your mind and body healthy to keep up with the demands of your profession. The most successful dancers have healthy habits from their food choices to their lifestyle choices. By using their healthy lifestyle as a foundation, their careers can span decades!