Act Like a Dancer

For me, stretching regularly is always a challenge. It feels like such a chore – especially since I need it so much, so it is rarely comfortable or relaxing.

I know I should take rest and stretch breaks from my computer during the day at work, but I find myself forgetting, putting it off, or just feeling kind of demoralized and apathetic about the state of my body.

Over the last three years or so, as I’ve become more immersed in a 9 to 5 computer-based office job (previously I was self-employed and spent less time sitting at a computer all day), I’ve gained around 15-20 pounds, lost strength, flexibility and muscle tone, and become more prone to fatigue and minor colds.

This depresses rather than motivates me, so I continue my routine of sitting with my laptop all day.

Then, last week, during a massage for neck and jaw tension, a thought popped into my head:

What if I identified as a dancer first, and an office worker second?

It would be a priority to move and stretch regularly throughout the day because I’m a dancer and that’s what I need – and more importantly – want to do.

As a marketing specialist, I need to answer emails, research sales data and run conference calls. As a dancer, I need to take five minutes here and there to stretch my neck, massage my feet and do a few pliés, as well as taking a walk break to move and get fresh air.

I knew I would need a reminder of this to keep it top of mind and start a new routine, so I drew this and placed it near my computer at work:

It’s been about a week and I’m happy to say – it’s working!

My mindset has shifted. I don’t feel bad about having tension and tightness (“boohoo, my computer is slowly killing me”) and needing to stretch it out because if I were a full-time dancer, I’d be doing the same thing and probably dealing with painful injuries to boot.

Without those negative feelings, in the past week I have enthusiastically:

  • Taken several walk breaks at lunchtime
  • Gone to the gym twice
  • Taken a Reggaeton Fusion dance class (and heading to another one tonight!)
  • Done yoga on my own at home and taken a power yoga class
  • Taken time to step away from my laptop to gently stretch

There’s such a difference between “should” and “want”. As an employee with a desk job, I “should” take breaks to care for my body and prevent chronic computer-sitting tension and weakness. But as a dancer I “want” to move and stretch and bend. It’s such a simple part of who I am and what I do. Easy!

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Do you have a similar challenge when it comes to what you “should” do for your body to stay healthy and feeling good? How do you deal with it? Tell me in the comments!