Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A Fun Way To Relieve Stress

By Carrie Vittitoe 

Amethyst Ramsey knows she can always rely on dancing to keep her calm and focused every day.

I seem to recall being carefree at age 20, feeling ebullient and airy. The sky was always blue and cloudless.

Well, shoot. I’m wearing my rose-colored memory glasses. OK, that’s better.

College exams and papers, part-time retail job hours and schedule changes, dating fretfulness, and wondering what I was going to do with the whole entire adult life that lay before me. Being 20 years old is so very…

...stressful. How many of us at that age have or had a good formula for managing the stress from all of those pressures and unknowns?

Amethyst Ramsey is a junior at the University of Louisville, majoring in marketing with a minor in communication. Is she stressed? “Oh, absolutely! I don’t see how anyone could not be,” she says.

Her plate is plenty full with 15-16 hours of classes each semester and a part-time job teaching two jazz technique classes to middle and high school students. She also participates in a number of resume-building activities, including serving as vice president of the Student Marketing Association at U of L and acting as a volunteer dog-walker with Golden Retriever Rescue & Adoption of Needy Dogs (GRRAND).

Her big paper planner keeps Amethyst on track with her busy schedule. 

Her involvement in so many activities forces her to prioritize and include some time just for recreation and relaxation. In order to do this, she relies on a big paper planner. She says it might not be cool or technologically savvy, but with the paper planner, she is able to put everything in one place and mark items off when she has completed them. “If it gets in the planner, it is going to happen,” she says.

And the things that don’t make it into the planner? Well… they just don’t happen, Amethyst says.

Amethyst takes some time out for dancing while vacationing in Italy. 

Amethyst’s recreational pursuit of choice is dancing at the Michael Thomas Dance Center in Jeffersontown, where she takes a two-hour ballet/jazz technique class each week. Dancing is a great physical workout because it requires both strength and balance. “It is definitely a sport,” Amethyst says. She isn't a fan of working out at the gym, but her dance class provides her with all the endorphins she needs to ease her tension.

A dancer has to combine balance and strength with focused movements and make it look effortless, which results in a kind of zoned-out feeling, Amethyst says. Focusing on combining all of these things keeps other stresses, such as college, her job, and “have-tos” out of her head. “Dancing lets me find myself and lose myself at the same time,” she says. “It’s nice because for those hours, I’m not being stressed over anything.”

Another nice side effect of recreational dancing is that it has strengthened Amethyst’s skills as a teacher. Dancing has put her more in touch with her creative side and spurs her to develop new choreography to share with her students. “I never thought I had much imagination, but it comes naturally now and is fun,” she says. “It is a different way to use my brain.”

Maybe more of us should take a lesson from Amethyst and start hitting the dance floor to exercise, reduce stress, and spur our own creativity.

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