The Dance Teacher’s Healthy Holiday Survival Guide
November 22, 2021

The holidays can be chaotic, especially for dance teachers. Whether you’re putting on a production of The Nutcracker or are working towards another end-of-year production or holiday show, all these new undertakings can add stress and busyness to your already jam-packed schedule.

Now, it’s even more essential that you prioritize your health and well-being so you don’t burn out at such a joyful, celebratory time. As a health, nutrition and lifestyle coach, my job is to help dancers cultivate a healthy and balanced lifestyle. So I’m here to also share some of my top dance-teacher holiday wellness tips that will not only serve you but also serve as an example to your students.

Don’t Forget Your Needs
The holidays are about giving, and dance teachers can sometimes take that to the extreme. The adage “You can’t pour from an empty cup”is so true. Ask yourself simple questions about your routines so that you can make adjustments. Here are some questions to start with: Am I getting enough time away from the studio? Do I enjoy a variety of foods that sufficiently power my body and mind? Am I prioritizing sleep?

Delegation ties into the self-reflection questions. Are there things on your plate that you could delegate even if just for the holiday months? You might consider hiring someone to help with housework, grocery shopping or administrative tasks at the studio, for example.

Look for things you can easily offload, and do it now. Your time in the day is limited, so make the most of it and focus on the things you do best. Delegate the rest!

Choose Immunity-Boosting Foods
The last thing anyone who’s overextended needs is the latest cold or flu that’s going around. My stance on food is always to look for ways to add beneficial meals or snacks rather than looking for foods to cut out. Citrus fruits and bell peppers are great sources of vitamin C (one of the more obvious immune-system boosters).

Consider adding more dark, leafy greens to your meal plan to increase overall nutrient density. Incorporating ginger, garlic and turmeric into your cooking may provide anti-inflammatory benefits that can support a healthy immune response. Incorporating prebiotic- and probiotic-rich foods can also help improve gut health.

For sufficient prebiotics, incorporate a variety of fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains. And for dietary sources of probiotics, include fermented foods like miso, tempeh, kombucha, sauerkraut and kimchi.

Get Enough Sleep
Active people, in many cases, need even more sleep than less active people. You might need eight hours at a minimum, even if you think you can get by with less. Create a routine that helps you wind down after a long day. Give your phone a place to live outside of your bedroom and get another alarm clock. My favorite is a sunrise alarm clock that simulates the sunrise and provides a blissful way to wake up.

Prioritize Self-Care
First, identify what really feels like self-care for you. It might be as simple as getting 20 minutes of alone time in a day. Or it could be a regular massage, a bath, some stretching or a long walk. Whatever supports your well-being and makes you feel balanced should be a priority. Commit to making those things happen, even if that can’t happen as frequently during the holiday season.

Include Healthy Convenience Foods
Good news: Packaged food is not all bad! To get through a busy schedule, you may need to rely on some prepackaged meals or snacks. Check the ingredients and make sure these foods are all packed with things you feel good about. Your students need easy options too, so you’ll provide a great example when they see that it’s OK to incorporate packaged foods.

The bottom line is: Don’t give in to the mentality that you’ll “get back on track” or “take better care” of yourself in the new year. Do it now. Make adjustments that’ll allow your self-care routines to be easy and sustainable. You’ll show up more fully for your relationships and for your dancers.

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