Wellbeing for Dance Teachers

Here at One Dance UK we want to ensure teachers are looking after their health and wellbeing during the Coronavirus epidemic. As we all know health and dancing go hand in hand. So now that dance teachers might presumably be less active in their daily life this may affect wellbeing. We understand that dance teachers may be feeling the pressure from having to teach in a new manner, financial concerns and a lack of contact with friends, family, colleagues and students. We have created this guide to help you maintain a healthy mindset.

 

Keep active

Now is the time for dance teachers to practice what they preach. Teachers themselves need to make sure they are keeping active. Research[1] shows that aerobic exercise and stretching/balancing exercise were effective in improving happiness. Being active can improve your physical health, help manage stress and anxiety and just generally make you feel better[2]. As well as wellbeing keeping active helps reduce the risk of some diseases, reduces the risk of physical health, helps gain healthier bones and organs, ensure healthier weight, give more energy and improve sleep[3]. Please see our One Dance UK resources to support home learning to find online classes for you and your students to keep active through dance. You can also look to the fitness sector for classes or make sure you go for a walk, cycle or run every day.

 

Keep choreographing, performing and appreciating dance

When times are tough with online teaching, exam result uncertainty and worrying about students it’s time to remind yourself why you love dance and why you became a dance teacher in the first place. Research showed that depressive feelings improved after a dance intervention[4]. Another study used five different interventions: dance aerobics, hip-hop dance, ice skating, body conditioning and jogging. The best interventions to increase wellbeing were dance aerobics & hip-hop dance[5].

The very act of making art (visual or performance) develops a sense of identity and self-efficacy and increases resilience, in which is a key component of good mental health[6]. Even the act of participating in arts lowers cortisol levels in blood stream (lowers stress)[7]. It is not just the act of making art but also viewing art. Research by the Scottish Government has shown that those who participated in a creative or cultural activity were 38% more likely to report good health compared to those who did not. So make sure you take advantage of dance shows streamed through avenues like Sadler’s Wells and Marquee TV.

You could also take time to learn something new: from cooking, a language or arts and craft. Learning something new will increase self-efficacy and self esteem[8]

 

Separate work and play

Timetable your day and week to have clear slots of when you are working, relaxing or even just dancing for yourself. NHS[9] advices to work smarter, not harder. Therefore, leave the least important tasks to last. This ensures when the time comes to finishing work you can finish. The Guardian newspaper even recommended scheduling in “worrying time” setting a daily half-hour “worry period” at the same time and place helps to stay in the present moment the rest of the day[10]. Some things you can’t control and you have to accept that so plan for what you can, consider your response to what you can’t[11] . Spend time each day writing or logging what you are grateful for, especially praising yourself for what you have achieved. If you struggle to be positive to yourself think what you’d say to a friend for we often give far better advice to others than we do to ourselves[12]. Timetable in sleep times to help keep routine.

 

Talk

Schedule in video calls with friends and family, play time with children, chat times without technology with those in your households. There is evidence that indicates that feeling close to other people is a fundamental human need and one that contributes to functioning wellbeing[13] Make sure you talk about your worries and anxieties with others. Phone or video calls have greater positive impact than text messaging, however it is also sensible to have some time away from mobile phones, laptops and technology each day and to limit the amount of news you take in each day.

 

Mindfulness

Mindfulness techniques work both with adults and young people. Try writing a positive element about yourself or something that you are grateful for everyday to challenge the critical voice in your head[14]. Take time to calm yourself through controlled breathing as recommended by Psychologist Linda Blair. She advices to inhale slowly through your nose, counting to three, hold your breath, and then breathe out for six counts. This she says, will reduce levels of the stress and increase wellbeing[15]. NHS summarises mindfulness activities[16]:

Notice the everyday (taste, smell, sensations, sound)

Keep it regular

Try something new

Watch your thoughts

Name thoughts and feelings

Free yourself from the past and future

 

Try these wellbeing apps and links:

Calm

Headspace

Wellbeing in schools project: Sit together

How to get into a work-from-home mindset

NHS Mental Health and Wellbeing

 

 

[1] Zhang & Chen (2018). A Systematic Review of the Relationship Between Physical Activity and Happiness

[2] Sport England (2020) https://www.sportengland.org/news/coronavirus-information-sector

[3] Mind. (2018). Physical activity and sport

[4] Akandere, M. and Demir, B. (2011). The effect of dance over depression.

[5] Kim, S. and Kim, J. (2007). Mood after various brief exercise and sport modes

[6] Catterall et al. (2007). Learning in the visual arts and the worldviews of young children

[7] Kreutz, G., et al. (2004). Effects of choir singing or listening on secretory immunoglobulin A, cortisol, and emotional state

[8] Mind. 5 ways to wellbeing

[9] NHS (2018). 10 Stress busters

[10] Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies in The Guardian (2020) Is there a right way to worry about coronavirus? And other mental health tips

[11] General Teaching Council for Scotland (2020) How to look after your wellbeing

[12] NHS. (2020) Raising Self-esteem

[13] Mind. 5 tips for wellbeing

[14] Flemming, A. (2020) The Guardian. The secret of calm

[15] Blair, L in Flemming, A (2020) The Guardian. The secret of calm

[16] NHS (2018). Mindfulness