Advice for Dancers

Headed Toward Burnout? Here's How to Rethink Your Work Ethic

After reading your column I now understand the problems of being a workaholic. My dilemma is that the dance teachers in my BFA program praise an extreme work ethic and use me as a role model for other dancers. How can I give my body a break?

—Burned-Out Dancer, New York, NY

Why not rethink what a good work ethic entails? Part of being a diligent dancer is taking care of your body with smart recovery strategies. If you're working hard all of the time, you'll likely end up running yourself down, and you won't be able to perform at your best. However, if you start focusing more on recovery, you should return to the studio feeling extra refreshed and engaged.

During breaks throughout your dance day, increase your mental and physical reserves with a combination of the following:

  • taking short naps
  • listening to music
  • rolling out
  • lying down with your legs up sans shoes to reduce swelling

Photo by Nathan Sayers

At night, aim for nine or more hours of sleep, and don't forget to eat regular meals and snacks that fuel your body. Weekly rejuvenating activities, like massage and acupuncture, are equally important. With practical strategies like these, your reputation as a role model should remain intact.

Send your questions to Dr. Linda Hamilton at

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