The discipline of ballet training; The possible effects on long term mental health: Guest Post by Terry Hyde

Here is a Guest Post for you today! Psychotherapist, Terry Hyde MA, MBACP (registered), who danced in the 1960’s and 1970’s with Royal Ballet, London’s Festival Ballet (now English National Ballet), West End Musicals, Film and TV writes about MENTAL HEALTH. Putting both of those careers together, Terry has a fine understanding of what a dancer needs. 

Terry carries out therapy sessions via skype. To get in contact with Terry please write her at (please note the English spelling of counselling).

The discipline of ballet training; The possible effects on long term mental health

In this article, I take a look at the potential links associated with the long-term mental health effects from traditional ballet training. How can you be affected  by ballet training from an early age?  Can this really have a positive or negative link to your mental health in later life?

Ballet is an extremely demanding discipline; it requires dedication, determination and talent. In the past, it was acceptable for the teachers to shout at, and even at times use physical force on students in classes.  They would roughly pull, push or twist their students bodies into the correct position during the classes. Thankfully this style of teaching is no-longer accepted, there are much better ways to motivate and inspire the student.

If you are reading this and are or were a dancer, it’s likely that you started to learn some form of dance from an early age. Perhaps it began as a hobby to burn off excess energy; your parents may have taken you to help with your posture. Some of you may have had a ‘stage-parent’ who sent you to classes to fulfill their own frustrated dreams.

If you fall into the latter category, you may already realise how debilitating this situation can be. As a child you may well have found yourself wanting to do the things that your friends were doing but because there was an underlying fear that you would lose the love and approval of your parents, you continued to dance. This can leave you feeling that you have missed out on parts of your childhood as a result.


Photo Credit: Renee Scott

My personal history

I started training as a ballet dancer at the age of five in the mid 1950s and retired from dancing and performing in my early 30s. Although I loved my career as a dancer, I’ve seen that the effects of the training methods and the discipline required, can leave some individuals with long-term problems with their mental health.

When I started dancing, I knew instantly that this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Many other children feel the same passion and continue taking classes throughout their childhood, teenage years and beyond.

Life beyond performing

From a practical perspective, the discipline I learned from ballet has carried me through my whole life.  Throughout my performing years and into businesses that I ran, and now into my psychotherapy practice. Now I’m  using my experience to help other performers deal with the stresses and strains of their profession,  whether they are still performing or have retired.


Dancer: Former Principal dancer of Cincinnati Ballet. Photo by: Peter Mueller

I still have some obsessive traits from when I was told that “this is the only way to perform this step and that’s the way you are going to do it”.  This has made it easy for me to learn new things and always eager to “get it right”.  In some people this can result in the development of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), as they strive to “get it right”, the knock-on effects of this are anxiety and low self-esteem due to not being able to “get it right” in the demand for perfection in their performance.

Mental health issues

A number of other mental health issues arise from the performer’s “need to be perfect”. In addition to anxiety, low self-esteem and OCD many performers suffer from eating disorders and struggle with loss and grief due to not being good enough to start a career, or having to end a promising career due to injury. As performers, there is always a level of  instability due to insecurity of lack of work.  The list goes on.

Good nutrition is now being recognised as an important aspect of maintaining good mental health.  Click here  to hear about some research into how nutrition can help some mental health issues.


Sunshine and Longer days!

I spoke to my big sis yesterday during our weekly Sunday Face Time chats and she exhausted the conversation early to get out and enjoy the rays of sunshine.  She lives in Alaska and was gloating over the longer days becoming more noticed.

This coming weekend we spring forward and  although we lose an hour of sleep – who cares, right?! An extra hour of sunlight moving closer to solstice day creates hope for the cold days to end (although here in KC we have had a seriously mild winter)!

What does longer days of sun mean for you? Here are my favs!

  • Flowers, flowers and more flowers!
  • Walks and hikes for a much greater span!
  • Corn hole and beer – just saying!
  • Vitamin D – healthy immune system!
  • Fresh fruits and Veggies!
  • Green Grass and Parks!
  • Water Slides, Water Parks, Water Rides, Water Fountains, Water Polo!

Now looking at the bottom right corner of my computer I see that it’s just March 6…Yikes, I may be a little overconfident here, although back to my point…Spring forward is this weekend so mark your calendars and sunlight feel free to shine on through!



Yes, winter is still here! The body says so!

It’s mid February and much of the country has been experiening quite the winter weather patterns. Whether you have been experiencing a 20 degree day followed by a 70 degree day the next, sunny afternoons few and far between, snow blizzards ending with 6 feet of snow in 2 days, or very possibly all of the above – it’s not been the easiest on the body. Whether a sniffle here and there, the full on flu, or just daily aches and pains, winter weather is never easy on the body. IMG_0004

So what are some ways you can do to battle the winter weather blues which will keep you smiling from the inside and out?

Listen to music – nothing is better than listening to some good music.  Maybe start with listening to Becks Morning PhaseGrammy award winning album of 2014.

Watch movies (bundled up in your warmest blanket) – Whiplash, Theory of Everything, Frozen, Avengers, or yet another Netflix Flick.  Your pick! Get pumped for the 87th Academy Awards on February, 22.

Take a Yoga Class – ground yourself, stay warm, limber up and breathe.

IMG_0022Get a foot reflexology massage – keep the circulation flowing by getting a massage.

Make a winter friendly recipe – like jambalaya.  Use this recipe as a base and create your own twist. Happy Mardi Gras!

Try a craft beer – i’m trying Sierra Nevada’s 2015 Beer Camp Hoppy Lager.  It’s a spring seasonal, totally on pupose!

Hibernate – it’s okay just to sleep more, at least that’s what people say!

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Garlic and Onion, Oh my!

Garlic then have power to save from death, Bear with it though it maketh unsavory breath, And Scorn not garlic like some that think, It only maketh men wink and drink and stink.

Garlic and Onion, oh my is right! A little bit here, a little added there, a little bit more is not a bad idea. I know, some people jump up and down at the joy of the scrumptiousness of these two food and others may dip down lower in their chairs and cringe at the cognitive idea of even swallowing the same two things. May i convince you however to at least read up on the nutritional highlights of these foods. And may I add, I once was not a lover of garlic or onion, and now I can’t get enough of them. That’s why life can be so good. Too as we change and evolve as people, so do our taste buds.

Garlic, oh my!

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Did you know that Garlic is a member of the lily family and is cultivated worldwide? And that’s not all. Garlic is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world. Side note – Any food dated back to the good ol’ days has to be good for you.

Garlic is an excellent source of vitamin B6. It provides manganese, selenium, and vitamin C too!  It has calcium, potassium and iron, all things dancers and athletes need lots of.  So eat up!

The compound allicin is the main culprit for the pungent odor of garlic. Thankfully allicin provides more than just garlic’s one of a kind smell. Allicin has been shown to be effective against common infections, such as colds, flu, stomach viruses, as well as more powerful pathogenic microbes, including tuberculosis.

Onions, oh my!

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Who knew. The onion, like garlic, is also a member of the lily family. Sounds about right though. White globe, yellow globe, red globe and green are the most common of onions. But this is not meant to leave out chives, leeks, shallots and pearl onions. Onions originated in Central Asia, from Iran to Pakistan and northward into the southern part of Russia. The pungency of the onion made it popular among the peoples of the world.

Onions are a great source of vitamin C, B6, B1, K, biotin, chromium and dietary fiber. And ladies be aware that onions provide folic acid too. Onions also have provide the enzyme alliinase, like garlic, which is released when the onion is cut (responsible for the crying effect).

Onions, like garlic, extracts to decrease blood lipid levels, higher the good form of cholesterol (HDL), and have a significant blood sugar-lowering action.

Both garlic and the onion both serve as a pre-biotic food that helps the growth of good bacteria. The antimicrobial activity is again is due to that smelly producing, yet somehow wonderfully satisfying compound allicin.

So eat them up, but maybe first apologize to your partner and blame it on the allicin. Or better yet, maybe get your daily dose once you get home.  Ooooorrr, maybe not!

Until next time! Thanks for reading today! And remember to dancehealthier.

Vegetable Food List – Does A dancer good!

 Dance. . . Go Home. . . Do it Again

Do you ever have days when you walk into the front door of your ballet/dance studio and say to yourself, “Wasn’t I just here?”  Well dancehealthier is certain that our muscles – if they had a voice – would most likely scream this!  “WeReN’T wE JusT HERE!”

One way – of the many ways – we can help our muscles recover faster, taper off excess amounts of lactic acid and prevent muscle fatigue is to eat healthy foods.  Plus, these healthy foods will do much more than just help out our muscles.  The benefits are endless. To name just a few: Physical strength, digestion, heart health, confidence, mental health, and “just feeling good.”  Feel free to add to this list.

Today’s Post will be a continuation (if you haven’t noticed already) of the last week two weeks, focusing on Vegetables.  Lots of Choices to add to your recipes, as well as chomp on for snacks.


Each serving contains 5 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams protein,

no fat, less than 25 Calories



Alfalfa Sprouts

1 cup


1 large


½ cup cooked

Bean Sprouts

1 cup

Beans, green

½ cup cooked


½ cup canned

Bok Choy

1 cup


2/3 cup or 1 large stalk, cooked

Brussels sprouts

6-8 med, cooked


½ cup cooked


1 cup raw


½ cup


½  cup


1 stalk

Collard Greens

½ cup cooked


½ med, with peel


1 cup cooked


1 cup


1 cup cooked

Lettuce, any

1 cup


4 large raw


½ cup


1 cup



Peas, green

½  cup

Pepper, green/red

½ cup


¼ cup


1 cup

Snow Peas

1 cup

Spinach, cooked

½ cup

Spinach, raw

1 cup


Raw, 1 med

Tomato sauce

½ cup canned

Tomato soup

1 cup

Turnip Greens

½ cup cooked

Water Chestnuts

1 cup


½ cup

Summer Squash

½ cup

Also, be sure to check the past 2 Movement Wednesday – Love Eats food lists for additional reference.
Feb. 28th – PROTEIN LIST