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Dancer's physical & mental health

My name is Danica Born and I have been dancing for 7 years. Throughout these past 7 years, I have gone through a few rough patches which have shaped me into who I am today. I want to pass along the lessons I have learned to younger dancers and their parents so the newest generation at Allegro can stay happy and healthy.

The biggest problem I have faced as a dancer is learning how to deal with my mental health without letting it affect my dancing and social life. I was diagnosed with major depression, anxiety, and OCD a few years ago, just before my first year on the Precision Dance Company. I kept it a secret from my team for quite a while before I got the courage to confide in them, but once I told them what I was going through I found a whole new support system that greatly improved my life. I learned that other people on my team were going through similar things and could help me with my problems in an unobtrusive way. Since then, I have met many other dancers who share my experiences and who I have even been able to help with their problems. My metal health is now the best it has ever been, and I am still working towards feeling better every day. I have just a few messages to share with anyone going through a tough time:

1. You are not alone. Keep in mind this doesn’t mean that you are unimportant or shouldn’t feel special and worthy of help. It just means that you will always have people around you who care. You don’t have to go through this by yourself if you don’t want to.

2. Learn about your problem. Read up on what you are dealing with and start to find ways you can help yourself. Stop thinking you are helpless because you are at a low point right now. There are always things you can do to improve your life, even if it’s just a little.

3. Stay strong. I know it feels so easy to give in, but the more you fight, the easier it gets. Your life and happiness are worth it, trust me.

Another big problem that many dancers face is injury. I have some back problems, pinched nerves, and minor injuries that I have had to deal with through my time dancing. I cannot stress how important it is to take care of your body, especially when you put so much stress on it so regularly. A few rules I have learned to live by are as follows:

1. If something hurts for more than 5 days without getting better, get it checked out. If it gets progressively worse, get it looked at sooner.

2. Learn the difference between soreness and injury. Typically, soreness is a dull, widespread pain while injury is sharp and focused. Of course, there are always exceptions, and learning the rules of your own body is key to figuring out if something is temporary or more serious.

3. Take injuries seriously. I sprained my ankle and thought very little of it and kept dancing on it until I could barely walk. I have a very high pain tolerance and those of us who aren’t as affected by pain need to take special care when dealing with injuries. Rest a few days longer than the doctor tells you before putting stress on the injured area again.

4. Eat and sleep correctly. Drink lots of water, eat your vegetables and proteins, and stick to a healthy sleep schedule. Find what works well for you and gives you the most energy while staying healthy.

I hope someone benefits from this, and thank you so much for reading!

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