You’ve Lost Your Fire: 5 Signs of Burnout in Dancers
You know that moment when you overdrive your car and at some point, the engine stops because it needs to cool down in order to start again? It’s kind of the same with us, human beings. If we put so much into our work and we forget to rest our mind and body, we end up with a burnout.
As professional dancers, this is something that we most definitely want to avoid. Imagine working for a few months to get ready for a competition and then being affected by burnout just a few days before the start.
The signs differ from one person to another and this is why I will most likely tell you how to make the difference between a regular exhaustion and the fact that you might be going towards a burnout. Becoming aware of the risks will help you out.
Usually, when a ballroom dancer brings uprefers to a burnout, he is saying that he needs to hit the pause button. This is a tough decision to make but unless you’re keeping the balance, you’ll have no choice.
Why we burnout?
1. Lack of motivation and impossibility of finding a good reason to keep dancing.
You can still use your body to practice and learn new steps but if your mind is wandering somewhere else, you’re wasting time, energy, and it’s hard to focus. Don’t push yourself too far though because your body can’t take it without the aid of your mind. They need to be in sync with each other. A small advice would be to take a few days off and think it through. Why did you start dancing in the first place? What kept you going until now? Is it a hobby or are you part of the professional world?
2. Muscular weakness and too much pressure put on the body.
Let’s say that you have enrolled in a competition that starts in 2 months. You start getting the shivers with each day and you’re cramming up. You take extra hours of practice and you tell yourself that you’ll have time to rest after you are ready. Even though you don’t stress too much, you’re still putting pressure on your body which can lead to a constant feeling of fatigue due to muscular weakness. When you rest, your body is actually regenerating.
3. A long period of stress is a straight way to chronic stress.
When your life takes place among professionals you must keep up with everything that is happening. We all have stressful times in our lives but the downside is that we can get used to living with it and this could end with an episode of chronic stress. This usually means that you don’t sleep well, it’s hard to focus on anything, and you are predisposed to anxiety episodes. If you have a family to take care of, a job that you go to every day, and you also attend dance classes you are in for a thrill. Finding that sweet spot where you keep the balance is what you should aim for.
4. Feeling ineffective and useless thus turning away from social activities.
Your enthusiasm and willingness to do things are fading away and you become soulless. Because we are humans and we very much rely on our feelings when we do things, we are forced into this situation to shut down completely in order to refresh. Ballroom dancing is a social activity and this can impact the relationship with your partner. Take a few days off so you won’t hurt the one that’s next to you. These feelings make you unproductive so it’s better to just do something else that will help you get back in tune with yourself.
5. A constant feeling of tiredness and inability to sleep.
Because the stress might go to high, there is a risk of becoming unable to rest and have a constant feeling of tiredness. You may lie in the bed for 10 hours during the night and still find it impossible to close your eyes and start dreaming. Learn some relaxation techniques like transcendental meditation or yoga. It will definitely help you recover and get back on track.
Prevention is a lot better than treatment. I am sure that none of us would want to end up with a burnout. The most important thing is to listen to your body. It has its ways of letting you know when he needs a break. Eating well is also extremely important and having a diet based on how much energy you need every day. I have said this so many times and I will say it again: sleep, sleep, sleep! It’s so good for your mind and body and it also helps with the training. Dance moves that you practice during the day are stored in muscle memory during the night.
Be careful with your high expectations and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Instead, strive towards living in balance.
If you want to read more about how to take care of yourself and how to relax, you can check our other article on 8 Things Every Dancer Can Do To Improve Their Overall Well-Being.
Photography: Dmitriy Plevnev
Dancing has been my passion since I was 13 and since then I've been doing things in that direction. Writing, creating and putting together the biggest community for dancers around the world!