Finding Your Balance: Back to School Edition

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CAR_schoolcareer_MAINIt’s that time of year again; school is back in session, new seasons are beginning, and we’re all struggling to get back into the swing of things.

As summer comes to a close, bouncing back into a routine is no easy feat. Adjusting to having to balance school, dance, and other obligations is overwhelming, especially after just being able to devote all of your energy solely on dance at summer intensives.

As a professional ballet dancer, I have yet to experience the luxury of spending the summer lounging by the beach all day. Instead, I have traveled near and far to study at various summer intensives, and more recently performed in Lincoln Center for American Ballet Theatre’s rigorous Spring Season at the Metropolitan Opera House. Currently starting a new season with Colorado Ballet after a gruelingly long 3-month layoff that constitutes our summer break, I definitely can relate to the “back to school” sentiment. No matter how you spend your summers, the adjustment back to reality is sure to be jarring.

Balancing school, dance, and a social life can be tricky, and often dedication to one of those categories needs to be compromised. However, it is definitely possible. Here are my top tips to help you with your balancing act:

  1. Make sleep a priority. Although it seems like sometimes there aren’t enough hours in the day to check everything off of your “To-Do” list, it is imperative to make sleep a priority. If your body is running on empty, it’s impossible to work efficiently. Additionally, sleep deprivation is extremely hazardous to your health and hinders your muscle recovery. If you get home late from rehearsal and you’re exhausted, it’s more important to get rest. Set your alarm a little earlier in the morning for the next day and try to get some work done then. Chances are you will wake up refreshed and with more mental clarity.
  2. Plan Healthy Meals Ahead. The weekend is the perfect time to prepare large batches of healthy meals and packed lunches for the week ahead. Try new recipes from your favorite blogs, and experiment with new recipes to keep it interesting. I like to make big batches of meals and then freeze some of it in for when I’m in a pinch and need a healthy meal quickly. Nutrient-dense meals will help power your body and brain to power you through the demands of your busy schedule.
  3. Write down Deadlines. The most reliable way to stay organized is to use an assignment notebook or planner. Write down due dates it down in a planner, calendar, post-it note on your fridge, or you can even set an alert on your phone to keep track.
  4. Set Aside Time to Relax. Make sure you can find the time to relax each day. I find that specifically carving out a time in your day to spend mindlessly doing nothing productive, such as watching 20 minutes of reality TV, can be the rest you need in order to refresh your focus.
  5. Do homework during your commutes. Instead of chatting with your carpool buddies, use the time commuting to dance for getting some homework done is a better use of your limited time. It’s crucial to fit in schoolwork whenever possible to avoid the stress of having to do too much at once.
  6. If you plan on being social, make sure you get work done beforehand. If you plan on spending time with friends, manage your workload by doing some homework before you go to avoid the panic of getting back late and having a lot of work due the next day.

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