How to take care of your body throughout holiday performances

While we all look forward to the holidays, the season can be a whirlwind for us dancers.  Between final exams, dance performances, and family obligations, self-care might fall off of our list of to-dos.  The extra stress, business, and chilly weather of this time of year can be a recipe for illness or injury (and feeling icky over the holidays is no fun!).  Here are a few things to keep in mind so you can take care of your body throughout the holiday season:

  1. Prioritize sleep.  There’s a lot to get done this season, but sickness or injury will knock you out completely.  Schedule at least 7 hours of sleep each night so you can get adequate rest and recovery time to stay healthy, accomplish all your activities, and enjoy the magic of the holiday season.
  2. Always, always warm-up.  Even if you’ve done “The Nutcracker” one hundred times, it’s critical to do a thorough warm-up before each performance (and also to cool-down afterward).  Cold, damp temperatures can make muscles feel stiff and achy.  A simple ballet barre and plank series will prep your body to dance and including active stretching after performing will keep your body from getting tight and sore.
  3. Hydration, baby.  It may not be summertime but drinking plenty of water is still extremely important during the colder months – especially for dancers and athletes.  Herbal tea is a great way to warm-up your body from the inside out while still getting those glasses of water in.  Add a squeeze of lemon or honey for added flavor and cold-fighting benefits.
  4. Get your flu shot.  The flu seems to run rampant during the holiday season and the last thing you want is for a fever and chills to take you out of performing.  Make sure to get your flu shot early in the season, wash your hands frequently, and never share makeup so that you can protect yourself and others from contracting the flu virus.
  5. Fuel with festive foods.  Warm, nourishing foods will fuel your dancing body during these busy months.  Bake a sweet potato, whip up a big batch of chicken noodle soup, or crisp your own kale chips in the oven.  Of course, enjoy the sweet treats this holiday season; just make sure that you’re also getting in nutrient-rich veggies, high-quality protein, and healthy fats to keep you dancing your best.

The events and emotions of the holiday season can sometimes feel overwhelming even though they’re exciting and fun.  Make sure you take note of how your body is feeling and practice thoughtful self-care so that you can make the most of your performances and holiday vacation.

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