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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Post-class Fatigue


ami1436

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I thought others might be in this situation - and might have some tips to share?

 

For years, most of my classes have been in the evening. Depending on the evening, I'd get home between 8:30 pm or 10 pm. Shower, eat... If it wasn't too late take care of some work or so - even just busy work, and head to bed. Saturdays and Sunday classes are in the mid afternoon, so schedule a bit different, but usually fairly okay.

 

About a year ago I added a Thursday morning class, which I love. Now I also take a private lesson after that every other week.

 

Over the past few months, the fatigue I have after class is ridiculous. After the evening classes, I need more sleep than usual - a lot more. And forget getting any work done after class. Thursdays are horrible though - I start my 'work' day post-class, so in the early afternoon, and I'm like a zombie. It's horrible, and right now I can't afford to have many more unproductive nights/days.

 

There could be a lot of factors influencing this. Writing up sucks. It's cold and dark (very very cold in my room at the moment. Thank heavens for space heaters and hot water bottles). I'm finishing up a course of anti-malarials which make me a bit out of it and I'm going to have to start another course soon.

 

I dunno, but I need to figure out something that keeps me going, especially after that morning class. I'm definitely sleeping enough - probably more than enough. I'm sure to eat well. I don't know what else I can do besides drinking gallons of coffee - which I don't really want to do! I try to keep my caffeine intake at a reasonable level.

 

Thoughts ideas experience??? *help!* I'm tired of being like this :offtopic:

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I thought others might be in this situation - and might have some tips to share?

 

Ami, I don't have any tips, sorry, but after reading your post I thought to ask if you feel you could be overstrained, physically and/or otherwise exhausted?

 

It may be the lack of light of course, but those "symptoms" usually occur in my life when I should need some rest, reduce the amount of classes/other activities for a while.

 

Sometimes it's not easy to recognize that "stage", but nowadays I've become more alert if I feel that the fatigue appears from nowhere. :thumbsup:

 

And it's not always easy to take it easy either (especially when I feel that there's so much to do and I feel guilty if I don't do it all or if I skip classes), but to me it seems to be the only cure. Better to have rest sooner than later, when it may be too late. :offtopic:

 

I don't know if these thoughts helped you at all, but I hope you feel better soon!

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Guest sally-mandy

Well, the winter darkness certainly bothers me, and as I get older I notice it more. I use a light box every morning and it's very helpful. If I miss a couple days I'm sunk.

 

My ballet classes are at night, but I do Pilates two mornings a week. A woman in that class said one day, "forget doing some cardio after Pilates, I'm exhausted." I think I know what she means, but one day I had to do my cardio after and I forced myself through it. It occurred to me that I'm not physically unable to do other activities but actually am so RELAXED it feels that way. My pace is slower, and going back to work in such a relaxed state takes some getting used to. (Slow might be a good thing though :green:)

 

Finally, a doctor has told me in the past that too much sleep is a depressant to the brain. Mild sleep deprivation for a short time is sometimes used as a treatment for depression; it's a stimulant. Could that be part of the problem--too much sleep?

 

Good luck.

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Thanks guys.

 

Yes, Jans, I am exhausted. Writing up is horrid! And I worked straight through Christmas. It's been a while since I had time off. I did take the weekend off of work though - my brain feels better!

 

And sally-mandy, too much sleep isn't the problem I don't think...

 

I guess to be more specific, I feel like because most of my classes are in the evening, my body is used to going to sleep shortly after... Which makes the Thursday afternoon zombie-esque. And as opposed to being relaxed after dance, I'm usually pepped up and energized - but just for a short time. Usually dance re-energizes me, especially a really good class. I really think there's something about the pattern of sleeping after classes that has become some sort of biological pattern in my system.... hmmmm.

 

ETA: Some folks have suggest ginko etc to me, but with all the meds in my system right now, I really don't want to add anything more to the mix!

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Writing up is hard work, and you do need to take breaks from it in order to continue to work effectively. I was only dancing one night a week at that stage, and so I had dancing on Friday nights, so it was my treat and night off (I was working during the day, so I wrote during the evenings).

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The antimalarials don't help either. While I was in Vietnam, the Air Force put us on prophylaxis with the stuff, and those things gave me the blahs for quite awhile after the dose.

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Writing up can be overwhelming - and you may be "punishing" yourself mentally because you are not doing it more/faster etc, while what you are really enjoying is ballet. I suggest (1) take the writing up in shorter doses, with a realistic amount planned, and then stop for the session, and (2) allow yourself to take your ballet classes as a "reward" for having put in your planned period of writing up.

 

Writing up uses incredible mental energy, and you need to use all tricks possible to keep yourself going. And a sunlight lamp if that works for you.

 

Jim.

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I have the opposite problem. I get home from ballet as late as 10:30pm some nights and I'm so wired I can't fall asleep till 12:30 or 1:00am. Then getting up in the morning for my day job (which starts at 8:30am) is by far the worst part of my day. I have had instances where I am tired after class and that's usually due to burning the candle from both ends. Everyone needs a break to recharge. Work all day and ballet all night and not much sleep will eventually catch up to anyone. I say...take it easy on the ballet for a bit. It will probably help more than you think.

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Ami, just to second jimpickles' (Hi, Jim from not-sunny Brum!) comments about writing up as mentally, emotionally, & physically exhausting. But don't give up the dancing - iin my experience it's really necessary. I never did as much as you do know (oh regrets!) but I know my 3 classes a week were really essential to keep me sane during my PhD. It's not for nothing that the PhD (except in Germany) is the highest academic qualification you actively study for - it's a high hurdle and takes stubbornness and endurance as well as cleverness in the end. It's a special person who completes it, so hang in there!

 

I was thinking about your question on Saturday when I was nodding off in the University library at about 4.30pm after a quite tough class (well I've had a three week hiatus so it was extra-tough) at 8.30-10am that morning. I always feel quite bright for an hour or so after class, but a longer term tiredness sets in - I really wanted to go home & nap under my duvet by about 1pm. I had a whole lot of work to do for a conference paper (I warn you after a PhD the deadlines get much tighter!) but I realised I was not really alert enough to write, so I did a whole lot of research things that required more than usual activity - checking databases, looking for books, doing photocopying,and reading & taking notes. I did do the dozing off at my desk thing, but from experience, iof I let myself doze for about 10 minutyes I eventually wake up and feel quite bright afterwards - rather than fighting it and staying dozy for hours.

 

Can you adopt this kind opf strategy on THursday - that is, recognise that you're not going to be able to write more than 750 words (say) rather than 1,000 (I found 1,000 words a day a good doable goal) but that you can do stuff like keep your bibliography up to date and accurate, and so on?

 

Of course there's all the stuff you know, like water (and yes, caffeine!), and p'raps a bitmore protein?

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I'm not sure I can give all that much useful advice, as my sleeping is quite weird, but here's what I found helped when I was doing my dissertation and still working almost full time:

 

Do your dissertation in stages, and if you get stuck, don't force yourself as you'll get more stressed. Have a 5 minute break and get up and stretch your legs or call a friend for a chat or something. You'll feel so much better, and much more motivated- plus, all those abstract ideas you couldn't quite place will start making more sense.

 

Power nap!! When you get tired (that awful heavy eyelid thing), take a nap. Just shutting your eyes for 2 minutes can be really helpful, and when you wake up, you'll jump to attention!

 

Sunlight is really important. Is there somewhere you can read/do some work in the sunlight? I know it's too cold to be outside, but maybe if there's an atrium or something? Even a 5 minute walk in the daytime can really help, and will stop you getting cabin fever, stuck in your room.

 

I know you eat really healthily already, but maybe eat more frequent, smaller meals. Having lots to digest makes you hungry.

 

Caffeine is good for a short term thing, but if you're in it for the long haul- which I think you are!!- then it's not such a good idea. It will just make you more tired. I actually had a mental breakdown from staying awake too long and having too much caffeine- believe me, it ain't pretty! I find tea to be okay, as the caffeine in that doesn't really bother me (I was brought up drinking tea almost non stop- my mum still drinks about 20 cups a day), but if you don't, you could try caffeine free tea? Ice cold water is always good too.

 

Is there any way you can sort out your room so the temperature is a bit more regulated? That must be a real pain.

 

I hope some of this helps - I know none of it really relates to ballet, but I think you know more about it than me!!!

 

Good luck with your writing up- we're all here if you want to sound off about anything xxx

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Two factors should help you soon: first, at this point the days should be getting noticeably longer; second, you should be done with the antimalarials soon. I think in the dark part of the year the body just wants to hibernate, and the urge gets stronger whenever we are a bit tired.

 

As for staying warm (and hydrated): have you tried plenty of herbal tea? I allow myself only one caffeinated teabag per day, but I try to get 3 giant mugs of tea in on high-exercise days.

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Are you staying well hydrated? A long time ago, when I used to play hockey late at night, I used to wake up feeling horrid. Well, not really even "wake up" -- I had a terribly hard time just opening my eyes. Turns out I just wasn't getting enough to drink before tumbling into bed. Once I started making myself drink a huge glass of water (or two or three) before bed, I felt much more awake in the morning. Even now, whenever I'm feeling sleepy, the first thing I do is have some water.

 

As for the writing up portion of the program -- you have my sympathies. Writing up sucks. I don't think I've ever worked as hard in my life as I did for those six months. I felt as though I'd set up a totally impossible schedule for myself ... but I made it. Not without cost, though. I was so depleted by the end that when one of my committee members was a bit nasty with me, I practically quit the whole program right then and there ... two weeks short of my defense. So, hang in there. And keep hydrating! And stay warm!

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Hi all!

 

Have I told you lately that I love you?

 

Seriously - thanks for all the input, and sorry for yet again taking so long to get back to you. It has, as it always is, been one of those weeks.

 

Anyways. The ideas about cutting back on ballet I think just won't work. I've tried it before, and to be honest, I become very cranky. I need it as an outlet for everything - stress, physical energy, my creative/musical side, etc. It also (usually) helps keep me fairly organised in my days - I know that if I want to go to class, I need to finish XYZ.

 

I do think the lack of light has something to do with it. I grew up with an East facing window, and am very very very used to sunlight in the morning, etc., which I'm not getting where I am now. I've been talking about getting a sun lamp or so for a while now, but I should really be serious about it and just get one.

 

The cold is crazy. My room is fairly large, but only has a really small radiator that doesn't work. Maitenance has come up several times to fix it but doesn't know what's wrong with it now. There is a large hot water pipe through one side of my room which keeps that side warm - and also runs through my wardrobe so my sweaters are nice and toasty in the morning!!! But, the other side of the room is cold. It's on old Oxford college, so the two outside walls are stone (cold cold cold), and the large windows aren't weather-paned and don't have a proper latch to keep them fully shut - I informed college but the latches are these old antique ones. They are trying to source them, but without much luck. Sometimes there's a breeze by my bed at night! They did give me a very effective space heater - and I have a hot water bottle to warm up my bed. But, the heater might also be causing some dehydration - it's just a plain dry air heater - and I have been waking up thirsty and have noticed dryer skin, etc. of late. Since Treefrog and Koshka wrote, I've been more picky about making sure I'm drinking - and also using more non-caffinated hot drinks to help keep warm too (herbal tea, hot chocolate).

 

The office is cold too - but if the sun is out it is not too bad. Earlier this week I had a problem with my computer there and the I.T. person told me not to plug in the space heater, etc etc... Let's just say I did not react kindly to that advice, and my space heater is still firmly plugged in.

 

The anti-malarials - I think a huge factor actually. For about ten days in mid-January, they had me so nauseous that I had to force myself to eat, and I could barely do so. It was really bad. And they just make me feel out of whack. Luckily today was the last day!!! But, I'm probably back off to Nigeria in March, so I'm going to have to start a new course soon. I'm going to go and talk to the Occupational Health doctor (the one who does tropical diseases, and does all of our fieldwork medications) and see if there's something that can be done. I'm really petite, and sometimes doctors have thus recommended me taking lower dosages of things? I dunno. But I'll see.

 

Redbookish's comment about protein is interesting, because after writing my initial post I consciously decided to increase my protein intake as well - and to vary it more (I am the eternal cheese lover. I should own stock in cheese. Is that possible? Maybe Kraft? Anyways.). So I've had more nuts, beans, soy, etc. lately. I do think it's helped actually - I don't feel so sluggish.

 

And oh, how I love those power naps!

 

To top it off, I came down with a cold earlier this week, on Tuesday. Something has been going around with the undergrads and I probably picked it up from my students. It put me a bit out of it on Tuesday, and I'm still not 100%. The onslaught of it probably just exacerbated everything else, but I'm happy to say that today, despite having my morning class and then a private class after, I'm doing okay fatigue-wise. I did take yesterday completely off and saw some friends and stuff - which was so refreshing! And then today, before I went to class I made sure that I had a decent, balanced lunch ready. So I came home and had food ready... which was good. I had an hour at home to shower/eat/whatever and then I went to a seminar, and instead of just ploughing back into things like I usually do I gave myself a bit of a break, had tea with a friend (how novel!), then went to a meeting. Worked a bit after, came home, had dinner, and am getting ready to get back to it - such a difference! I mean, I'm not a bundle of energy, but I'm not a zombie right now. This is a Good Thing.

 

And, can I add one more thing (to this already novel-length post? Does this count for my 1000 words today? :shrug: ) - I've really loved and appreciated hearing from those of you who've been here and made it. I grew up in a small town, and had all sorts of nicknames regarding the 'brainy dancer' or the 'dancing brainack'... even in college people didn't quite get the two 'sides' to my life. This is part of why I've loved dancing in Oxford - I'm not so much the odd one out. But reading this thread, and of all of you Dancing Doctors - well, it's inspirational. That you all still have dancing in your lives as well... well, it's reassuring in the best happiest warm fuzzy type way. So.... thanks. :huepfen:

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A little different perspective on feeling fatigue. How do you know you are really fatigued? Easy you say. You get home late after working and class and you feel dead tired—at that moment. But does that mean you are really fatigued in an overall general sense, a sense that is harmful to your development as a dancer?

 

Once upon a time I was a bicycle racer. I don’t believe there is a physical activity that uses more calories or energy. As a racer, I often felt fatigue, especially a few hours after a long hard training ride or race. I often started a race with legs that felt absolutely dead, lifeless, completely used up. When I started getting in really good physical condition, I’d also wind up sleeping less and less. Sometimes I would have to wake at 4:30 AM on a Saturday or Sunday just to get to a race.

 

The odd thing was that despite all of this, often, usually just 10-15 minutes into a ride or race, I’d feel terrific. Everything was wonderful. No soreness. No fatigue. Extra strength, if fact.

 

So be careful about judging fatigue. From strictly a dance point of view, I’d make an assessment about midway through a barre. If you feel fatigued then, it’s most likely real. If not, at least from a dance perspective, it’s false.

 

Also, we get stronger by fatiguing our body systems. When we introduce rest periods, the body tends to adapt to those stresses, which is how we get stronger. So fatigue isn’t necessarily bad.

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Guest sally-mandy

Ami, if you decide to look for a light box, maybe you can learn from my experience. There are many kinds out there and my doctor (who specializes in this seasonal problem) said a lot of what's marketed for seasonal affective disorder doesn't really work. You need something with, I believe, "10,000 lumens power," and you have to sit close enough to the box, and do it at the right time of day.

 

The kind I have is called Sunbox. I had tried some full spectrum light bulbs years ago to no effect. When I got the Sunbox and used it as my doc prescribed, I could tell the difference in about 2 days and it's been a big help.

 

They're kind of pricey but, I thought well worth it. Mine was covered by my medical insurance as my doc wrote a prescription for it. I used a loaner from the doctor's office to test whether it would work for me before I bought my own.

 

Good luck.

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