by Sandi Duncan
The word summer may conjure up fun childhood memories of splashing in the pool, playing on the swings in the park, camping, or vacationing at the beach with our families. Those times allowed us to rest, relax, and rejuvenate our minds and bodies.
Nowadays, however, our summers probably look very different. Those leisurely childhood days have been replaced with the nonstop activity of summer classes, national competitions, conventions, music selection, choreography, student evaluations, registration—the list goes on and on.
We love this beautiful art of dance. We have turned what was a childhood hobby into a career. We spend countless hours sharing and sacrificing for our passion—unfortunately, often at the expense of our own health, happiness, and well-being. This job that we love so much may mean that we’re constantly giving. Of course it feels good to teach, share, help others through our art, and be passionate about something. But I ask you: are you also taking time to rest, relax, and rejuvenate your body and soul?
You may think that you cannot take any time to rest, and justify that belief with 100 good excuses. But—hard–core reality check here—will you really be able to benefit anyone in the long run if you don’t allow yourself some rest, relaxation, and time with people you love?
Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton’s 2004 book How Full Is Your Bucket? suggests that we all have a kind of metaphorical bucket within us that needs to be filled with positive experiences. You may roll your eyes at this idea of emotional bucket filling, but I am here to insist that you ask yourself, “Who is filling my bucket?” If your answer is “no one,” yet you are repeatedly filling the buckets of all those around you, it’s simple: your bucket is going to run dry—and then you’ll have nothing left to give.
So today, let’s start a simple, doable, three-step plan of action toward physical and emotional rejuvenation.
Step 1: Take time each Sunday evening to plan your week. Schedule at least 20 minutes of rest into each day that week. Put it in your calendar and stick to it. This time slot is not negotiable! Use it to sip a cup of tea, meditate, read a book, go for a walk in nature, or do absolutely nothing, all without a bit of guilt. You have earned those few moments of peace. Enjoy!
Step 2: Perform a morning gratitude/attitude check. Focus your mind on five things that you are grateful for. Sit for a moment, breathe deeply, acknowledge the gratitude, and then be on your way. Starting your day with positive energy will begin to improve your attitude toward life and work. Be patient and consistent with this practice; it’s a learned habit.
Step 3: Commit to scheduling monthly meet-ups with people who lift you up and love to laugh. If you socialize with dance friends, make a pact that there will be no talk of the “D word”! Hold yourself and your friends accountable for bringing something new to the conversation that does not pertain to dance. Most important, give yourself permission to have fun!
Ready. Set. Rejuvenate!
Sandi Duncan is a senior staffer at Melissa Hoffman Dance Center. A certified life coach, she conducts team-building seminars and workshops for studios nationwide.