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"Leave It All Behind": The Role of Mental Demands and Mental Detachment in Relation to Dance Students' Health and Well-Being

Yannick A. Balk, Jan de Jonge, Rogier van Rijn, Janine Stubbe
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 33 Number 4: Page 258 (December 2018)

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Abstract: AIMS: Adequate physical and mental (i.e., cognitive and emotional) recovery is essential for dancers' health and well-being. However, studies investigating the role of mental demands and recovery in dance are scarce. A potentially effective mental recovery strategy is detachment from dance, which refers to the absence of performance-related thoughts, emotions, and feelings during time away from dance. The first aim of this study was to investigate the relation between 1) cognitive and emotional demands in dance and 2) health and well-being of dance students. The second aim was to examine whether the recovery strategy of mental detachment moderated the relation between cognitive and emotional demands and dancers¿ health and well-being.
METHODS: A cross-sectional survey study was conducted among 80 full-time dance students enrolled in a bachelor's degree in either dance (n=45) or dance teacher (n=35). Dependent variables were health problems, concentration difficulties, and positive affect.
RESULTS: Hierarchical regression analyses showed that cognitive demands and cognitive detachment were not associated with dance students¿ health and well-being. In contrast, emotional demands were negatively related to positive affect and positively related to concentration difficulties. Emotional detachment was positively related to positive affect and negatively related to health problems. Moreover, emotional detachment moderated (i.e., buffered) the negative relation between emotional demands and positive affect.
CONCLUSIONS: These findings highlight the importance of considering emotional aspects of effort and recovery in dance. It is recommended that dance students consider ways to emotionally distance themselves from negative dance-related emotions and feelings during their free time.

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