The Kryptonite to Your Competition Season – Mental Rest

Competition season is kicking into full gear. That means lots of early mornings, long days, and intense preparatory rehearsals. It’s easy to get swept away in the chaos of it all and lose sight of one of the most important things you can do for your body and mind – REST.

I know it might seem counterintuitive to talk about rest as you’re pressing the gas pedal but hear me out. Competition prep alone is strenuous for both dancers and instructors. It’s a race of drilling and cleaning choreography while solidifying costumes, and travel accommodations. Now, add that mental stress on top of the actual competition.

What’s more? Overwhelming stress and stimuli have drastic implications for performance. When you practice mental rest, you are allowing your brain to exhale, and recharge. So, it makes sense that allowing your body and mind to rest and regulate improves overall performance. In this blog post, I’m going to offer simple strategies that prioritize mental rest. These can be easily applied to both dancers, parents, and instructors. Feel free to bring these tips along for your competition season.

1. Escape the Noise

I know this might seem impossible, but it’s the most effective way to ensure mental rest. Whether that looks like going on a leisurely walk outside to grab a coffee or taking notes, journaling, stretching, etc. while listening to calming music.

2. Set Yourself Up for Success

You have a limited amount of mental energy within a given day. If 30% of it is taken up in deciding what to wear and rushing to get your morning caffeine fix, you’ll most likely feel your mental energy tank by 5pm. The less mental energy you exert on the little things, the more you’ll have to manage the more pressing matters.

Choose your outfit the night before, set-out morning/night routines step by step, give yourself ample amounts of time to commute, etc. Are you an introvert? Deliberately schedule alone time in your day. If you tend to get headaches, keep Advil and plenty of water on you.

3. Use Your Breath

I get it. Things happen…especially during competition. There will be instances that you didn’t account for – an injury, disappointed dancers, low placement, etc. In these moments, rely on your breath to provide mental clarity. Take even breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. I highly recommend the 4×4 breathing method – breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts and then repeat that process 4 times.

4. Limit Screen Time

We’ve all heard this one before, but scrolling through social media, face timing, and texting (especially before bed) is a no-no for mental rest. Remember, the whole concept of mental rest is to decrease stimuli. While it may seem like we are resting while laughing at funny TikToks or face-timing a friend, it’s counterproductive. Be mindful!

Taking a time out isn’t only for kiddos. When you feel yourself becoming particularly fatigued, frustrated, or overwhelmed, try one of these strategies to self-regulate.