It’s the best feeling… knowing holiday break is just around the corner. You’ve been waiting in anticipation for it and you’ve been looking forward to finally relaxing. And here’s the truth, we always go into it with the best intentions, don’t we? We say, “I’m finally going to take time for self-care, and give my body a healthy recharge.” We have the goal of wanting to take a break while maintaining a healthy lifestyle. But unfortunately, three pumpkin pies and one Netflix binge later, our holiday break starts to take a very different turn. Why is it that we always end up hunkering down on the couch for most of the holiday break? It’s all rainbows and butterflies at the beginning with our goals of trying that new DIY on Pinterest or maybe seeing that friend you haven’t seen in over a year… and then… nothing. We go from Positive Pants Penny to Couch Potato in a day. Of course we want to relax over the holiday break, but how do you prevent the loss of dance technique and achieve your goals? And how much lazy time is too much? I’ll be breaking down all of these questions, so stick with me as we figure this one out together.

To be clear, I am no different from you. I have had the same holiday break struggles and have ended up in the same unproductive rut. So please know that you’re not alone! We’re definitely in this one together. So, the first thing we need to address is the “why?”. Why do we do this? Why do we set ourselves up for success only to end the break feeling like we accomplished nothing? Well, I believe the reason to be two-fold. The first reason is momentum. If the break starts off lazy and unproductive, it’s most likely going to end that way. It’s Newton’s 1st Law in action and in my experience it holds true. Mr. Isaac said it best when he discovered that an object at rest will stay at rest, whereas an object in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by another force. So basically, if you start the break by binging Breaking Bad, you will most likely end the break by binging Breaking Bad. It’s science at work and unfortunately it can work against us. But remember that Newton’s Law has a positive side as well; if you start the break productive, you will most likely end the break being productive.

Of course we want to relax over the holiday break, but how do you prevent the loss of dance technique and achieve your goals?

Now we know that starting the holiday break off with positive momentum is crucial to achieving your goals. But like I said earlier, I believe the “why?” has a two-fold answer. The second reason why we end up hunkering down instead of heading outside, is that we try and plan TOO much! Have you ever started the day with an unrealistic to-do list, but you tell yourself you have to get all of it done for it to be a successful day? Then when you don’t achieve the whole list, you end up sad and depressed because you didn’t achieve everything you wanted to? Yeah… me too. I firmly believe that trying to cram too much into the holiday break will only leave you feeling frustrated with yourself. So how do we find the balance? We need positive momentum, but we don’t want to set unrealistic goals. The key to finding the right balance is choosing healthy activities that leave you feeling energized, and then spacing them out into a schedule that is doable for you. This means that everyone’s holiday break will look different, because everyone should be choosing activities that bring them joy, and joy means something different to all of us.

So how do we Marie Kondo this holiday break? We choose healthy activities that bring us joy. If at this point, you’re thinking… yeah but Netflix brings me joy. You’re right, it brings me joy too, but we should also sprinkle in joyful activities that help us maintain a healthy lifestyle while helping our dance technique. So get ready for some inspiration because I am going to hit you with 10 realistic, yet joyful options to utilize during your holiday break.

spa arrangement with towels salt and exotic leaves
photo: pvproductions

Coming in at number 10, visit a spa. I mean, this one doesn’t really need that much of a supportive argument. I’ve yet to meet anyone who says “Ew a spa to relax my sore hardworking dance muscles, yuck.” And if that really is you, then just jump to the next option. But if you’re like most of us, visiting a spa is hardly a chore and putting this towards the beginning of the break is sure to put you in a blissful mood. Not to mention this one is great for muscle restoration and injury prevention. The one downside is that this event can be pricey, so maybe add it to your Christmas list if you want to make this a part of your plan.

Number 9, organize your space. This option is going to seem the most chore-like, but I’ve purposefully mentioned this one towards the beginning, because nothing will put you in a more productive mood than cleaning out the old to make way for the new. All that clutter from the year that you never feel like you have the time to address, well now’s the time. That junk drawer can become your new joy drawer, or that messy closet can become a Pinterest dream. Just imagine the possibilities of having a clear space as you use the rest of the holiday break to clear your mind.

Next up, number 8, meet up with friends. Bonus points if they’re friends you haven’t seen in a while but have been wanting to see! This could mean booking some travel too, which is always exciting around the holidays. But even meeting up for dinner or a quick brunch can get the endorphins flowing. Friends make life better in every way.

Trusty number 7, work on your mental health. This is broad but so important and it looks different for each individual. This could be as deep as seeing a therapist for the first time while you have an open schedule, or it could be as light as taking a bubble bath. It’s really up to you and totally depends on what you’re looking to work on. Maybe you start to journal or maybe you take yourself to a coffee shop and listen to music. The world’s your mental health oyster and taking time for your brain is so important!

Number 6, try a new style of dance. This one can be a lot of fun and is best to do with a couple of your dance friends. Since most of the studios are closed in your area for the holiday break, Danceplug is a great place to try a new style of dance online. It can be challenging and humbling to learn something new, and the break is a great time to do it when your normal dance schedule isn’t so demanding.

Two thumbs up for number 5, go do a workout class with your mom (or another family member of your choice). This one is fool proof and guaranteed to come with a few laughs. Most holiday breaks include time with the family, so when you see yours, book a workout class for you and your mom. Or better yet, book it for the entire family! It’s so fun and it kills two birds with one stone… bonding while getting fit.

pointe shoes
photo: Budgeron Bach

Number 4, sew your pointe shoes. Yes, this one is specific to my fellow ballerinas, but this one just makes good sense. Throw on that holiday movie and get to sewing. I know you just came off of Nutcracker, but let’s face it, those Nutcracker shoes are dead, and you need to order and sew new ones to be ready for the New Year!

Number 3, treat your feet. This one kind of goes along with number one, but for the love of all things good in the world, go get a pedicure. Dance feet are notoriously gross from pointe shoes, floor work, and everything in between, so go get them scrubbed, clipped, and polished. If money is an issue, an at-home pedicure is just as lovely. Set up your home spa and get to soaking those little piggies (everyone around you will be grateful)!

Get ready for number 2, treat yourself to a delicious meal. Now this can be done at home or in a restaurant but go try something new and treat yourself to something yummy. Maybe you’ve been dying to learn how to cook a steak properly, or maybe you’ve been wanting to try the new sushi place around the corner. Either way, grab a buddy and make a night out of it. Taking the time to slow down and appreciate food when you’re not running from rehearsal or running to an audition is crucial for your mental health and wellbeing.

Trying to cram too much into the holiday break will only leave you feeling frustrated with yourself.

And last but certainly not least, number 1, sleep. And I don’t mean nap all day everyday during your holiday break. I mean get on board the healthy sleep train and stay on it. The length of the holiday break is a great time to rework your sleep schedule and get it back to a healthy place that is balanced. I’m talking 8 hours of sleep, every night, and waking up refreshed and ready to take on your day. Don’t turn your break into staying up until 2am every night watching YouTube. Instead, use it to become best friends with your pillow. Your brain, your body, and your soul will surely thank you.

Before you head off to plan out your break, I would like to also address some of things you shouldn’t do during your time off. The following are activities that are sure to bring negative momentum and stall your progress during the holiday break…

  • Don’t do a TON of exercise. Your body will need some downtime, so don’t overdo it.
  • Don’t do absolutely nothing. That one is kind of a given.
  • Don’t isolate yourself. You need people and the people in your life need you.
  • Don't go on an extreme diet. Your body needs nutrition to heal and regenerate.
  • Don’t surf social media all day. Go live your holiday break, don’t watch other people live it for you.

I genuinely hope this article helps you plan a productive and healthful holiday break, filled with joy. You deserve rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation. Happy holidays to you and yours! 

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