In light of World Mental Health day that took place a few days ago, (Saturday 10th October to be precise) I thought I would re-visit how pole dancing has had a positive effect on the old grey matter for me.
First off, I’m not going to lie and say that pole dance is categorically brilliant and stress free 24/7 because it sure as fuck isn’t. Training for showcases, competitions and attempting to nail nemesis moves and combos all come with a hefty dollop of stress and anxiety thrown in. However when it comes to really anchoring you in the present moment, focusing on the task in hand and stopping your mind from wandering off in umpteen different directions, I have found pole dancing to be absolutely bloody brilliant.
I am someone who has lived with the utter bastard that is anxiety for quite some time. I have a very active, rambling mind that loves nothing more than to dart off in all different directions and have a good old worry about anything and everything. From tangible, real life issues to obscure shit like the meaning of existence itself, if it’s something to worry about, you can pretty much guarantee that my brain has worried about it at some point. There have been many occasions in my life where I’ve just wanted to scoop my brain from my skull and put it in time out for a good twenty minutes until it’s calmed down!
However, if you’re reading this and thinking “holy shit girl you’re 10/10 describing my brain there” fear not, all hope is definitely not lost. I have found mindfulness meditation apps to be an complete and utter miracle for calming my brain right down again. Last month, my anxiety was having a right bitch of a flare up, so after neglecting my meditations for a few weeks, I got back on the regular practice of 10-15 minutes of guided mediations per day via the Headspace app (heads up, Headspace is an app you have to pay for after your free trial, but there are tons of other free guided meditation apps you can use) and after just three weeks I had already noticed a big difference in my mood and how fewer occasions there were where I felt overcome with worry.
Now, you may be wondering what the hell this has to do with pole dancing, but hear me out. If you google the definition of mindfulness, it is classified as, “the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something. A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.” For me, whilst I’m not sat still and chilling out when pole dancing, I am so very much aware of the present moment and acknowledging how my body feels and wants to move way more than usual (try not being present in the moment when sliding into a superman!). Whether I am training a new trick, flow combo or getting my flexibility training on, I am very much in the here and now and focusing on what my body is (or isn’t) doing and where it needs to be.
As part of my three point plan to get on top of anxiety, which involves cutting right back on booze (if you’re a bit of a booze hound like me honestly try it, the first two weeks are tough but at week three your head starts to clear), daily headspace mindfulness sessions of at least 10 minutes per day and now regular pole practice sessions where I up my game and focus on more complex moves and flow that I cannot (yet) achieve. As we all know, sadly there are limited showcases and competitions on at the moment, so I’m making the most of this quiet spell in the pole dance industry calendar and really using this opportunity to train new and more difficult moves that require my full and undivided attention. Handspring, fish flops and sneaky V you elusive bastards I am coming for you. I can also honestly say that when I’m trying to master a really tricky or complex move, my mind is so focused on what the bloody hell I’m doing that any anxiety goes from being a huge, looming beast at the forefront of my brain to a smaller, much more tamable creature.
I fully intend to hold myself accountable and post a follow up to this blog over the coming months to report back on how my new mindfulness pole training technique worked. However if anyone else find already finds the mindfulness element of pole dancing good for their mental health, please let me know in the comments!
PS- I understand how much of a cunt anxiety can be, and it’s perfectly normal to not even feel up for pole dance training. It’s important to take recovery and healing at your own pace and if things feel really tough, please do speak to your GP or a medical professional. You’ve got this ❤