Updated: May 17
Happy Mental Health Month from Rae Studios! 💚
It's officially May which means it is 2023 Mental Health Month! This year's California Statewide theme is #Share4MH, so in the spirit of sharing, take time this month to share with others how you share for mental health. This could look like:
Share how you practice self-care.
Share how you practice mental wellness.
Share how you get support for your mental health.
Share how you overcame stigma.
Share your journey towards wellness and inspire others to take action.
Share a cultural wellness practice
However you decide to celebrate this month, keep the conversation going!
For more information on checking in, learning more, and getting support, visit the statewide mental health movement website, takeaction4mh.com.
Understand intersectionality when discussing Mental Health
Since May is also Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month and Jewish Heritage Month and Juneteenth is right around the corner, here is a gentle reminder for folks that intersectionality is vital when speaking about mental health. Here are some stats on the intersectionality of race and mental health:
Additional Resources on Intersectionality and Mental Health
Have resources you'd like to include on this webpage? Email us at MoreThanMovement@RaeAgency.com.
-Past Mental Health Month Campaigns-
Happy Mental Health Month from Rae Studios!
In honor of 2022 Mental Health Month, we asked our Rae Studios instructors, staff, and students about how they check-in on their own mental health.
As dancers, we are sometimes prone to certain mental health stressors like perfectionism, body dysmorphia, imposter syndrome, etc.
Rather than letting that shadow side live in the darkness, we, at More Than Movement, feel it is beneficial to bring these issues to light and have healthy conversations and dialogues around them. We interviewed different members of our Rae Studios community to hear about their mental health journey.
Check out some of their responses below!
Thara Ashley (She/Her) @tharaashley
Drenched | Tuesdays @5:30pm
Q1: How does being a dance/fitness instructor impact your mental health? (Negative or positive)
TA: Positively for sure! There’s just something about being in a room with other people that want to sweat, learn something new or work on their craft.
Q2: Outside of dance/ fitness, how do you regularly practice mental wellness?
TA: I’ve been making small strides in my daily mental wellness practice. It really starts with the small things for me, things like communicating and maintaining my boundaries, practicing saying no more often and intentionally using my spare time to do things that truly fill my joy bucket.
Q3: What advice do you have for your students who experience anxiety around dance? (e.g. perfectionism, body dysmorphia, imposter syndrome, etc)
TA: First off no one, yes you heard that right - no one is perfect. Comparison is the theft of joy. I know it can be hard, but do your best not to compare yourself with others. We’re all different people and we all move and respond to music differently. Be confident in the person you are because the world needs to see you shine and the dance floor is missing out on what you got to bring!
Q4: When you’re experiencing your mental health lows, what helps you get back to a healthy space?
TA: I always try to get my body moving. I need to surround myself with positive people and do something that makes me smile and laugh. That's always a recipe for me to turn my mental woes around.
Thara currently teaches Drenched on Tuesdays at 5:30pm. Click here to register for her class.
Lexi Nutkiewicz (She/Her) @lexinut7
Beg Hip Hop | Mondays @7:30pm
Q1: How does being a dance/fitness instructor impact your mental health? (Negative or positive) LN: I find great fulfillment in being a dance instructor, especially as someone who’s struggled with body dysmorphia, imposter syndrome, and feelings of anxiety. As an instructor, I get to learn from my students while also sharing my love and passion for dance. I’ve also had students tell me how my class (and dance, in general) has helped them with their mental health! While some of my mental health concerns stemmed from being a dancer, I’m proud that I’ve learned how to deal with these feelings and have the skills to address these concerns when they arise. Q2: Outside of dance/ fitness, how do you regularly practice mental wellness? LN: I regularly practice mental wellness by connecting with loved ones, attending community events, engaging in activism, being outdoors, taking time for myself, and expressing gratitude (and of course eating a good doughnut!). I also find the joy in the everyday moments, whether it’s a morning ritual or enjoying a beautiful day outside! Q3: What advice do you have for your students who experience anxiety around dance? (e.g. perfectionism, body dysmorphia, imposter syndrome, etc) LN: For my students that experience mental health concerns as they relate to dance, focus on why you pursued dance in the first place. How does dance make you feel? How does dance allow you to express yourself? Remember your “why” and just keep dancing! Q4: When you’re experiencing your mental health lows, what helps you get back to a healthy space? LN: When I’m experiencing my mental health lows, I remember my “why,” take some time for myself, and talk to a loved one. I also remind myself that it’s okay when I have these low moments. I used to get caught up in being a positive, happy person all of the time, but suppressing the unpleasant emotions actually worsened my mental health.
Lexi currently teaches Beginner Hip-Hop on Mondays at 7:30pm. Click here to register for her class.
Belicia Tang (She/Her) @Belicia.Tang
Ballroom Dance Fitness | Sundays @12pm
Q1: How does being a dance/fitness instructor impact your mental health? (Negative or positive) BT: Teaching dance fitness is really the highlight of my days. It’s a chance for me to share my passion for dance and performing in a format that can be enjoyed by everyone. Dancing in itself is healing. Aside from the natural endorphins that leave you floating on a post-class high, I simply love expressing and physicalizing music, and the minute the music starts playing, I can easily forget my worries and lose myself in the flow of the moment. And then to be able to experience this magic with my students who choose to carve out an hour of their days to take my class, is even more incredible. I always leave my classes feeling better because I know I was able to make at least one person in my class smile, which is really fulfilling. Q2: Outside of dance/ fitness, how do you regularly practice mental wellness? BT: Besides dancing, I turn to yoga, meditation and daily journaling as a way to keep my mental health in check. Yoga and meditation ground me in the present moment, which helps with anxiety and stress. Journaling is a great way to stay critically aware of my mental/emotional state; to congratulate myself on the day’s accomplishments; express gratitude for my blessings; unpack any unpleasant emotions and trace them back to their causes, and problem-solve accordingly; and to examine whether I am living in line with my value system on a day-to-day level. Q3: What advice do you have for your students who experience anxiety around dance? (e.g. perfectionism, body dysmorphia, imposter syndrome, etc) BT: I went through my own whirlwind journey of embracing my “dance identity”, which consists of things like physical capability, body type/image, movement vocabulary, stage presence, etc. Coming from a competitive gymnastics background, when I first started Latin ballroom dance at age 17, I approached the art with the same rote, perfectionistic mentality that gymnastics demanded. In my mind, technical precision took precedence over artistic expression, and it was only until much later that I realized that dancing is as much a sport as it is an art. Once I let go of the need to perform the steps perfectly, or to have prettier lines and longer legs in order to “look” better on stage, I was liberated to enjoy the art of dancing for no other reason than that it brings me joy. This freed me from mind-traps such as perfectionism, comparison to other dancers (every dancer moves in their own unique way, and that is beautiful!), body dysmorphia, and all the other toxic things that can suck the joy out of dancing. Q4: When you’re experiencing your mental health lows, what helps you get back to a healthy space? BT: When I’m in a mental funk, I find that a balance between self-compassion and opposite-action is the most effective way to get me back on my feet.
Self-compassion: Honor that you’re feeling down, be patient with yourself during such tender moments, and most importantly, understand that it is a temporary state that will pass.
Opposite-action: the act of forcing yourself to do things despite not wanting to do anything. This can include getting out of bed, talking on the phone with friends, going outside for a walk, and teaching a dance class.
Practicing these two things, alongside my other coping skills (keeping a routine, yoga/meditation, journaling, self-care, dance) is paramount to getting me back to a healthy state.
Belicia currently teaches Ballroom Dance Fitness on Sundays at 12pm. Click here to register for her class.
Did you enjoy this blog post and want to share it with your friends and family?
Make sure to tag the Rae Studios @raestudiossf and the instructors, and use the hashtag #MoreThanMovement.
Learn More About More Than Movement
If you have any questions or comments regarding our More Than Movement program or have any resources you’d like to share, please email our More Than Movement Committee leads, Lexi and Kristie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please continue to follow this page, our Rae Studios newsletter, and on social media for upcoming events, workshops, speaker series, panels, performances, materials for dance educators, and more. We look forward to growing as artists and community leaders that will show the world that what we do is #morethanmovement.