• Neil Gandhi

What Is Wellbeing And How Do We Improve It?

If someone were to ask you if you felt comfortable, happy, and/or healthy right now, what would you say? Often when someone asks us how we are doing; we tend to say we are doing fine. But what do we consider when someone asks us that? We all desire to feel good.


As competitive and professional dancers, dance becomes an integral part of our daily lives, sometimes becoming a requirement. As high achievers, we want to become the best at it. This comes with pressure that can impact our mental health and wellbeing. This could impact our performance. The drive to achieve may lead us to putting even more pressure on ourselves. Even the expectations of our coaches and friends and family, could leave us in a vulnerable position, which can cause us to feel isolated or stressed. We strive for excellence, which can lead to even more stress, which can negatively impact our mental health and wellbeing. The pressures of being an elite dancer often does not allow you to make time to look after your mental health and wellbeing. This can be very harmful in other areas of your life outside of dancing, which can loop back and affect your dancing even worse.


But how should you look after your health and wellbeing as a dancer?


Prevention is the key in maintaining a good mental health and wellbeing. Building resilience to cope in these stressful and pressured situations is important, especially in COVID times. It is not a ‘one size fits all’ choice when it comes to finding what works for you. Not all the suggestions will appeal to everyone, so it is important to find the combinations of ways of looking after yourself that is meaningful to you to gain the most benefit. Building resilience to maintain mental health and wellbeing, takes dedication and commitment. Resilience is like a muscle that needs to develop and strengthen; the more you practice looking after yourself, the greater your resilience will be. This gives you an ability to cope with the stresses of being an elite athlete, as well as life more generally. This will help you on and off the dance floor. Here are four ways you can look after your wellbeing:


1. It is so important to allow yourself time for the things you enjoy doing outside of dancing. Studies show that having a hobby outside of your career or professional life can lead to improved performance, physical, and mental

health. Studies also show that relaxing activities can give you immediate stress relief, and has great psychological benefits like improved focus, happiness, and a longer life.


2. There is a strong link between exercise and maintaining wellbeing. Strong evidence suggests and even just doing 10 minutes of activity can change our physical health by boosting energy levels and making us more alert, improving our wellbeing as a result. However, when your live revolves around a sport as an elite athlete (such as an amateur or professional dancer), things become a little bit different.


3. Meditation is also a great way to look after your wellbeing. It is an informal, private, and quick practice that you can do anywhere and at any time! It is a great foundation that can build your resilience and mindfulness. There are multiple techniques and resources out there that can help you greatly in getting started with meditation such as Headspace, YouTube, Spotify and more! If you want a place to start, try TheBallroomCoach's Guided Positivity Meditation:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upj66NmurtA&t=0s


4. Measuring wellbeing helps you to evaluate the impact of anything on your life, but also which aspects of your life you are most dissatisfied with. Looking at how you are "in yourself", how well do you feel you are coping with everyday life and how hopeful and confident you are about achieving your personal goals, is all about measuring your wellbeing. There are a few ways in which you can measure wellbeing, such as the Oxford Happiness Questionnaire (OHQ). Here is a link to the OHQ for you to try yourself! Do the quiz every month and see how your answers change after you start to look after your wellbeing!

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/nov/03/take-the-oxford-happiness-questionnaire

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