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Mental Preparation
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How to deal with Post Majors Depression

After all the build up, hard work, stress, and excitement leading up to a major, the days and weeks afterwards can be hard. In fact, the Irish dancing community has coined the term Post Majors Depression to express exactly what it feels like to leave the Irish dancing bubble and go back to the real world. Seasoned majors attendee Conor Ayres ADCRG from the Christine Ayres School of Irish Dance has great advice for both teachers and dancers on dealing with the downtime, and building yourself back up for the next one.

The days after

Ayres points out what everyone knows to be true, “It can be really hard to deal with the comedown from a major! There’s having to say goodbye to the excitement, the adrenaline, and your friends from all over the world that you may only see once or twice a year.” This is not only true for dancers, but for teachers too. “As a teacher, dealing with the comedown after a major is just as important as it is for dancers. It’s best to take a break from dancing completely for at least a week or two. See friends who aren’t involved with Irish dancing, do things for yourself that don’t relate to Irish dancing.” While you may come home full of ideas and enthusiasm for the next one, it’s important to pace yourself. Ayres points out, “Once teachers and students have had that decompression time, you can hit the ground running with new goals, a renewed energy for Irish Dancing. This is a marathon, not a sprint. The last thing you want is to burn out too early because you went too hard.”

Refocusing

One of the toughest parts of majors is moving on if the results aren’t what you expected. “It’s all about moving forward and focusing on a new goal, whether that be qualifying for next year, or aiming for a top place at Nationals, or just aiming for a recall. It’s very easy to get caught up in the hype of a major competition, and it’s overwhelming no matter what”, says Ayres. “For dancers who didn’t recall, it’s good to encourage them to set their sights on more achievable goals to build up their confidence, and get them to work on what they are missing technically – be it turnout, timing, carriage. There’s always something to work harder on.”

Ayres goes on to say that a little inspiration can go a long way. “I like to remind dancers in my classes about specific dancers I know of who place highly at the Worlds who’ve had set backs, or disappointing results, and what they did to improve. It always comes down to sheer determination and hard work, so I think it’s good for dancers to hear real life examples. In particular, there’s a Scottish dancer who put a post on Facebook after Worlds about how at her first worlds she didn’t recall, so she pestered her father to build a practise floor for her at home. She worked hard for a few years and worked her way up to 5th in the World. I think it’s a really inspirational example of how you can turn a disappointment into a real positive. And to have patience. No one is an overnight success.”

On the flip side, there are dancers who take that good result as a sign they can stop working hard. On this, Ayres says, “I just remind them of how hard they worked to get that good result, and therefore they need to work at the same level, if not harder, to keep that result consistent. There are always people behind you who want to knock you off that top spot, so NEVER rest on your laurels.”

Getting balance

The greatest challenge post majors is knowing how much downtime should be allowed, and when to ramp it all back up to prepare for the next major. Ayres points out that downtime is crucial, saying, “I think downtime is so important to decompress. However, you have to keep in mind our Australian feis season is fast approaching (same for the North American, Irish, and UK Oireachtas season), so enjoy 1-2 weeks off – do everything you want to do that you didn’t get to do while training for your major. Get it all out of your system. Then get back to class and get going! I do think dancers come back from majors so inspired due to the exposure of world class dancers that they are motivated to get straight back into training. And from a teacher’s perspective, that’s more than fine as well!”

How do you unwind and then refocus after a major? Do you have a particular routine or timeline that works for you? Share below in the comments, or join the conversation on our Facebook page.

Note: If you have concerns about your mental health it’s important to seek help from an appropriate source such a Beyond Blue

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