At the moment, I am embarking on a beast of a mission to boost my mental health via the medium of self-care. Daily 10 minute meditations, trying to limit the amount of booze I’m guzzling and getting at least seven hours kip a night are amongst some of the daily practices I am implementing, however perhaps the biggest practice I am working into my life is to treat my pole dance journey as a form of self-care. In my previous blog post about how to find enough motivation to create a decent training schedule, my wise (and pretty bloody talented) pole buddies Carol and Tash said they find their motivation to train by using pole dance as their “me -time”, and that really stuck with me.
It may have taken me almost a solid seven years, but I am now learning that you don’t need to smash every move, trick and combo out of the park in pole class in order to fully enjoy it. Right now, I am definitely the small fish in my pole dance class, but that sure as hell doesn’t stop me enjoying working on the combos, seeing what parts I need to work on and what parts are good enough to get a video for the ‘gram. As previously mentioned, I have sacked off all pole goals, am not competing or performing in any showcases anytime soon and have completely binned off any thoughts of “I have to achieve this move by this time period etc.” After reflecting on Carol and Tash’s wise words, I have begun to switch the relationship I have with my pole journey from being something I want to be an expert at, a checklist to tick off and/or a way to prove to myself that I can hold my own and dance with the best of them, to a self-care practice which helps me to escape from the stresses of daily life – it’s my “me” time.
This switch in narrative in the old noggin is already taking effect! A few Mondays ago I was knackered and very down in the dumps. I had a chronic case of the Sunday blues (probably not helped by having a few swift cans on Sunday afternoon) that wouldn’t shift and carried right over into Monday. After mustering up a hefty chunk of effort, I got my arse in gear and went to pole class that evening, and I shit you not it completely booted the Sunday/Monday blues out of the park. Could I master the entire combo from start to finish? Hell no – but I had a lot of fun attempting the combo as best as I could and even managed to see some progress with my Genie – a move that used to terrify me! I was so busy concentrating on how to execute another one of my instructor Eloise’s legendary combos of pain, that my crappy mood packed it’s bags and fucked off.
Contrary to popular belief, self-care doesn’t have to be bubble baths, face masks and Netflix and chill. Despite often putting if off on a regular basis (especially now the winter months are drawing in), we all know how good exercise is for us, and I assure you that pole dancing is no exception. For me, I see pole dancing as a form of mindfulness. Another quote from Carol that stuck with me was “you’re not worrying about the stresses and strains of daily life when you’re upside down trying to work out what body part goes where” and boy ain’t that the truth. Pole dancing categorically takes your mind off things in the most direct way possible.
And let’s not forget how important the social aspect of pole dancing is . I am now working from home four days per week, and therefore seeing people who aren’t my husband on fewer occasions. As much as I quite like my own (and my husband’s to be fair) company, getting out of the house and mixing with other humans is a very worthwhile activity for the old brain, and makes me feel less like a hermit.
Lastly, I am hoping (watch this space) that prioritising fitting pole in as a form of self-care and booking into classes in advance will *encourage* me at the very least to not get drunk enough that I am too hungover to attend Sunday pole practice or Monday pole class if it’s a specifically bad one (I ought to know better at the age of 31) so that’s two cracking self-care practices for the price of one!
So, this is how I’m beginning to use my pole dance journey as a form of self-care. If you also use pole dancing as a form of self-care, let me know in the comments!