Be Nice to Yourself

November 28, 2001

It’s no secret that dancers can be perfectionists, and when you’re working through the nuances of a demanding new role or juggling an above-average busy schedule, that type of self-discipline and attention to detail has its benefits. 

But there’s also such a thing as being too hard on yourself, and research published in the journal Health Psychology found that practicing self-compassion, and accepting yourself without judgment even in negative situations, is linked to better overall health behaviors.

The analysis evaluated 15 studies which involved over 3,000 people. Researchers found that people who were kinder to themselves were more likely to eat healthier, exercise more, sleep better and be less stressed. The thought is that self-compassion may actually be more effective than self-criticism at helping us stick with healthy habits, because it leads to fewer negative, discouraging feelings.

Sometimes we’re our own biggest critics. But the next time you make a mistake in a performance or stumble over a combination in class, remember that we can all benefit from easing up on ourselves once in a while. It doesn’t mean you’re not holding yourself to high standards—but it may mean you’re cultivating a healthier lifestyle that will help your dancing in the long run.