Dancer Burnout: What to Do When You Want To Quit

dancer thinking about quitting

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Dancer burnout is often unexpected; when something you have enjoyed so much isn’t bringing as much enjoyment, it can be hard to discern how to process that. Dance is an art form that requires discipline, dedication, and hard work. It’s no secret that dancers train for many years to hone their craft, hoping to one day perform on stage, join a dance company, dance commercially, or even dance on a college dance team. However, as with any pursuit, there comes a point when the demands of dance can become overwhelming, leading to burnout and potentially causing some dancers to consider quitting altogether. If you or your child is experiencing burnout, know that you’re not alone, and there are ways to cope with burnout and rekindle your passion for dance.

Recognize the Signs of Dancer Burnout

Before diving into how to cope with burnout, it’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms. Burnout can manifest in different ways. Some common signs include feeling physically and emotionally exhausted, losing interest in dance or feeling apathetic towards it, experiencing a lack of motivation or enthusiasm, and feeling like you’re not making progress despite your hard work. Burnout can also lead to physical injuries due to overtraining or not taking enough time for rest and recovery.

Take a Break

If you or your child is experiencing burnout, one of the most important things you can do is take a break. This may seem counterintuitive, especially if you’re used to pushing yourself or your child tends to push themselves to the limit, but taking a step back can help you or your child recharge and regain perspective. This doesn’t necessarily mean your child has to stop dancing altogether, but rather, you can reduce the frequency or intensity of their training or try a different style of dance to mix things up.

It’s important to remember that taking a break is not a sign of weakness but rather a smart and proactive way to avoid burnout and stay healthy. Part of what may be contributing to burnout is the feeling of sacrificing everything else to be at dance. For some teens as they have more social opportunities, the desire to be in the studio all the time lessens.

Find Support

Talking to others who understand what you or your child is going through can be incredibly helpful in coping with burnout. Encourage your child to reach out to friends or fellow dancers who may have experienced burnout.

Reconnect with Your Passion

Sometimes, taking a break and finding support may not be enough to reignite your child’s passion for dance. In this case, it may be helpful to revisit what drew your child to dance in the first place. What do they love about dance? What motivates them to keep training and pushing themselves? Try to reconnect with these aspects of dance by watching performances, attending classes or workshops, or exploring new dance styles. Remember that dance is an art form that can constantly evolve, and there’s always something new to learn and discover.

Tips for Parents

As a parent, seeing your child struggling with burnout can be challenging. Here are some tips on how you can support your child during this difficult time:

  1. Listen: Be there to listen to your child’s concerns and frustrations without judgment. Encourage them to talk openly about their feelings and validate their experiences.
  2. Avoid Pressure: Avoid pressuring your child to keep dancing if they’re not feeling motivated or passionate about it. Instead, focus on supporting them in whatever decision they make, whether taking a break or continuing to dance.
  3. Encourage Balance: Help your child find a healthy balance between dance and other aspects of their life, such as school, hobbies, and social activities. Encourage them to prioritize their well-being and remind them that their dancing achievements do not define their worth.
  4. Support their Self-Care: Encourage your child to practice self-care, such as getting enough sleep, eating well, and engaging in activities that bring them joy and relaxation. Help them establish healthy habits supporting their physical and emotional well-being.
  5. Seek Professional Help if Necessary: If you feel your child’s burnout affects their mental health or overall well-being, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. A therapist or counselor can help your child manage their stress and anxiety and provide them with the tools they need to cope with burnout.

Final Thoughts

If you or your child is experiencing dancer burnout and considering quitting dance after years of training, know it’s okay to take a step back and prioritize your well-being. Taking a break, finding support, and reconnecting with your passion are effective ways to cope with burnout. Remember that you’re not alone and that many dancers have gone through similar struggles. With time and patience, you can overcome burnout and continue to pursue your passion for dance with the support and guidance of your loved ones.

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