Nailing the (healthy) routine

In chapter 4, “Back to the Basics,” the reader gets a peek into the rigors of dance life. For me, it was a grueling schedule with 13 hours of daily physical activity – and one that would completely sap me of physical and mental energy each and every day. But life can be rigorous outside of the studio and stage, and the development of, and commitment to, good habits reaps immeasurable rewards. The daily markers, for dancing and non-dancing humans alike, include: eating greens and protein, getting enough sleep, stretching/mobilizing, and thinking optimistically. Sounds simple enough, but putting it into practice looks a little different for each person. Some of my “non-negotiable” good habits that I established as a young dancer looked something like this:

* eating breakfast every morning

* stretching for 30 minutes prior to each class

* engaging fully in every moment to use my time most efficiently (e.g. dancing in both groups during class)

* analyzing videos of my past performances to visualize what I could do differently

* speaking positively of – and taking pride in – the dance company I represented

Notice that only some of those items stand out as components of daily ritual, while others lean more toward character behavior. Making sure that your habits incorporate a mix of rituals that you can “check off” AND unscheduled (but consistent) demonstrations of character will accomplish two things: 1) opportunity for growth, rather than getting into a mindless rut with your habits, and 2) allowing others around you to reap the benefits of those positive habits alongside you. After all, good energy out breeds good energy back in!