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Our own mental health

We’ve spent the last month or so on the blog discussing the impact of dance on the physical and mental health of children, but lets not forget about ourselves.  After all, if our own mental health is out of whack, this will impact on those around us – our pupils, our families and our friends.

I personally get bouts of anxiety, usually stemming from being overwhelmed with taking on too many things.  And when you have children and run your own business, there’s a lot to juggle.  This can lead me to procrastinate and feel exhausted.  So I thought I’d share some of the things I do to help my own mental health…


I love meditating and have been doing it in one form or another for the last 3 years.  I find it incredibly difficult as my mind is constantly whirring away with all the ‘things-to-do’ but I know that with continual practice, my mind is getting calmer, clearer and I feel more capable. I aim to do a 10 minute session every morning as this really sets me up for the rest of my day.  There are so many apps and podcasts available so these days we’re spoilt for choice.  I personally like to use Headspace as I like the sound of Andy Puddicombe’s voice!  And you can tailor your meditations to fit around what you want to focus on and how much time you have to practice.

2.  Gratitude

Evidence from the Greater Good Science Center demonstrates that people who practice gratitude are more likely to be happier and less depressed. Rob Emmons, one of the world’s scientific experts explains more here…

It can be easy to remember the stresses and negativity of your day way more than the positives. I love this quote I read recently via Lyndsey Burton of the Balance Yoga Studio, based in Sileby.

“Your brain is like Velcro for negative experiences but Teflon for positive ones” – Rick Hanson

And it’s so true!  At least it is for me.  So to help me remember the good things and make them stick, I record my experiences in a journal.  And last thing at night in bed, I do a mental thank you for everything I am grateful for.  I certainly helps me to fall asleep quickly and it’s a great way to finish off the day.

3. Exercise

I love the rush of endorphins from doing some exercise!  As I’m normally out teaching dance for large portions of the day, I tend to do yoga and pilates in my own practice at home.  If I do a quick 10 minute workout first thing, it helps me feel invigorated and prepared for the day ahead.  The science also shows that exercising first thing gives your metabolism a big boost, meaning you will burn more calories throughout the day.

I aim to do all 3 of the above every day.  But of course it doesn’t necessarily work out that way…sometimes I’m too tired to get up early.  Sometimes I forget to do my gratitude practice.  Sometimes my 5 year old wakes up early and gets cross at me for ignoring him (and then throws things at my face whilst I’m trying to meditate!!!).  But as long as I’m trying to do most of these activities on most days of the week, then I can definitely say I feel a better person for it.

I think we can get so involved in the mental health of others – our students and those closest around us – that we can forget about ourselves.

What strategies do you have to look after yourself?

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