Have you ever found yourself sinking into a place you aren’t happy with, but just can’t seem to find your way out? That’s okay, you are not alone. Mental health is important for dancers to keep intact. As dancers we use more than just our bodies to express emotions, movement, and stories, we also use our minds and embody emotions that we may have never experienced before. I want to share a story with you on how I found myself sinking into a place I was uncomfortable with and how the answer came at the right time. Let’s get real…
Sitting here in my hotel room looking out at the beautiful city of Shanghai, China while enjoying the area of The Bund, I now am able to reflect on the past two weeks that have truly been an eye opener in not only my life but my mental state of being. From the outside looking in I’ve heard from many that I appear as this well put together, determined, motivated woman, who will grind until she get’s what she wants. Now, although a lot of this is true there’s one thing missing, a woman who is breaking down and feels so lost.
Describing living on a ship i the best way possible would be, College or University on water. Let’s be honest, you see the same people and same areas all the time with no true escape except for when you step out to see life at port. While it may be like college, it’s very easy to somewhat lose yourself with a repeated schedule, and if you’re like me a set schedule just doesn’t fit my personality, so you can only imagine how crazy my brain is going inside. This is my first contract and even with every opportunity to do what I love I’m also learning a lot about myself, the world around me, and being very appreciative of average day things I’m unable to experience while on this big vessel. It’s very easy to somewhat lose yourself and get into a funk when your unable to touch the world you are use to.
Reality finally hit when one of my biggest fears became reality after receiving a call from home. In the past year and two months from December 2016 until January 2018 I have learned the true meaning of cherishing those you have. I love my family and cherish each and every thing they have done to support my career whether they have been able to see me dance in person or just through video, they’ve never stopped cheering me on. December 2016 I lost my grandmother, March 2017 I lost my MeeMaw, and January 2018 I lost for the first time in my years of life someone form my fathers side of the family, my grandfather. Although death is inevitable and something we know is to come, I knew that God had other things in store. I knew I was mentally unstable from being o the ship, I knew I needed a break, I found myself in a funk I couldn’t get out of, something that turned from anxiety to depression. So, after receiving the call about my grandfather I knew I needed a break, I needed to be with my family, I didn’t want to be in that headspace anymore.
Fast forward to now being back on the ship after spending two weeks at home with family and on land I can say I learned a lot about the importance of taking care of your mental health. So here are some lessons I learned on land and some pointers on how I have learned to obtain a healthy mental headspace.
Lessons learned while on Land & Ways to handle them:
Learn to take breaks and fully evaluate whats going on around you and the people who are involved. It’s easy to be blinded by things that are always in front of you so sometimes you miss the solution. Take time to step away and have some time by yourself to assess situations and feelings you are having so that you can find a solution that won’t cause you to lose anything, but more so figure out how to avoid it from happening again.
We may not always get along with those that we call family, they may get on our nerves, they may make us upset, they may tell us things we don’t want to hear, but all in all they love us. Every moment with family is a moment to re-establish who you are and why you do what you do. Being around my family was such a great way to rediscover me and who I am, but most of all why I do what I do.
In time we soon discover that family isn’t just blood, but those that have found a place in our hearts. I have many people who I’ve grown up with who have been my biggest support system and those people are some of my biggest cheerleaders. I discovered while home how much I really missed my support system.Take the time to cherish those that you have in your corner, and in the same way they support you, be sure to support them just as much, if not more.
You can play tough and mighty all you want but that doesn’t change the feelings you have. Be sure to really pay attention to your emotions. When you are feeling down and out tell someone, when you need a listening ear reach out to someone, when you feel like giving up talk to someone, but never deal with it on your own. I’m always the bubbly, outgoing, and loving friend, but for once that all disappeared and I took the time to step out to one of my best friends and break myself free of what I was feeling and she was right there by my side every step of the way.
One of the hardest things to do is know you are right, but listening to your gut is really important. I’ve learned to stop fighting myself of what I am feeling and just take it for what it is, whether I like it or not. The feeling of letting things go and being one with what it is allows you to release yourself of extra stress. Being right honestly sucks, but it’s better to be right and move on than to sit and wonder in the dark.
It’s as simple as that….YOU HAVE CONTROL so protect your happiness and feed it what it needs. Get rid of all toxins that may bring you down. Discover what’s for you.
You have to be aware of what you allow in and out of your life, because that energy is what gets you through each day.
Toxins are powerful. Be aware of al things going on around you. Taking a break away from things and coming back to them with fresh air gives you a clearer view. Take a break and revisit situtations, people, places.
You have just as much power to put negative energy in your life as anyone else.