Looking After Yourself

I am becoming more and more aware that many of us are not the best at looking after ourselves and at putting our own needs before the feelings of others. In fact I think it’s so common that we don’t even realise that we are doing it or that it’s even ok to not prioritise our needs.

Some of us only attend to our needs when everyone else is happy or when we have pushed ourselves to an extreme so it’s essential to.

It took me a while to understand that it is not selfish. Even when things felt so heavy, it still felt selfish to do what was right for me.

As aerialists I think sometimes we think we chose this weird and difficult life and therefore we are in it for the long haul and we don’t have the right to be looked after too.

Taking care of ourselves could look like:
-Taking care of our body (nutritious food, delicious food, physio, massage, baths, stretching, sleep)

– Taking care of our mind (Taking breaks from work, not overloading calendars, giving time to decompress, social media breaks, talking to someone you trust, meditating, journaling)

– Taking care of our spirit (putting energy towards passion projects, giving time for your creativity, travelling, finding inspirational work, being around people you love)

There could be numerous reasons why we are not prioritising ourselves, but prioritising our needs allows us to flourish. It is not selfish. It allows us to better show up for the people around us and in our goals we are heading towards.

We can get off the struggle bus 💛

Asking for help

When I was training as a dancer we didn’t have permission to show any ‘weakness’ because we were up against eachother and the claws would come out if we did. Weakness was anything which showed any need for the help of others and that became engrained in me.

As humans we need other people for survival yet a lot of us want to be completely independent to feel in control and safe. Also if we think of asking for help as a weakness or failure we are less likely to ask for it.

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt doing this aerial psychology thing it’s that things are not as they seem. There’s a lot of people who are very good at hiding their struggles. So although it looks like everyone has their shit together, they really don’t (me included if it looks like I do).

We all need help one time or another and if we don’t ask for it, funnily enough, people won’t know we need it. There’s a lot of strength in asking for help. It’s vulnerable, but if you are suffering in silence it’s so important look to other people. Even if you don’t know what you specifically need from them.

There’s a lot of us who are self-employed and I used to confuse that with having to be completely independent and self-sufficient, without the need for another human. Well it turns out that’s extremely unrealistic and unattainable. Ofcourse we need to lean on eachother for help. Its difficult out there and impossible on your own.

If you have something you are struggling with, workload, funding application, time management, motivation, health, ect, ask for some help. If you are looking for a sign, use this one to go and do it. 

You have permission to get help for the thing. Nomatter how much you think you ‘shouldn’t need to ask for help’.

Are you good at asking for help? If not, what is stopping you?


As aerialists, like all performers, there’s an aspect of performing which relies on appearance. There’s certain aesthetics that event planners imagine, visual ideas that directors have and ideas of how we want to look ourselves.

This sounds harmless in terms of make-up, costume, ect, but these ideas can turn into pressures which lead us to want to change the physical appearance of our bodies.

So many people in my dissertation research (28%) referenced that they wanted to look differently. Wether that body size, build, specific aspects of their bodies.

As performing aerialists we are putting ourselves out there infront of people and if we are already critiquing the way we look its going to affect us when we imagine someone else critiquing us.

I used to move a lot faster as it meant I was never still enough for people to really study me. It’s only now I’ve quietened the critical voice that I can move more slowly and be more comfortable being still in the air.

Us aerial teachers have to demo things infront of a whole class of people who are very close and watching every movement. On days when I am having a bad body image day this really makes me feel uncomfortable, regardless of how supportive the environment is. Can anyone else relate to this?

Has worrying about your appearance ever affected how you move, how you work, which work you take, how you present yourself online?

Internal Messages

We all have internal stories and messages we tell ourselves which we have picked up over the years. They are not usually useful, but familiar, so we keep them around.

For me, like many of us, a big one is ‘I am not worthy/ good enough’ which gets activated a lot for me and brings up a lot of emotion.

In terms of aerial this can come up when I can’t achieve what I am trying to in the air, when someone stops coming to my classes, when I am quiet with work, ect. So I have to step in and tell myself that that’s a nice little story and it’s comfortable because it’s always there but it’s not actually helpful.

I could write a long list of things which would ‘back up’ this unworthy message. Experiences from childhood to last week. But thats what this story is fed by and we don’t want to make it any stronger.

These stories can mascarade as emotions in situations which are ‘supporting them’. For example if I can’t achieve a skill, I am not upset and angry about the skill itself, I am upset that I feel like my unworthiness is, once again, being ‘proved’.

I find it useful when I am confused about my reactions or emotional responses to things, to unpick what is actually underneath. A lot of the time it’s not about the thing infront of me, it’s what I think it represents.

Mental Capacity

This one is about mental capacity.

When I did a little poll about if you are more likely to burnout mentally or physically first. Most of you said mentally.

I think because as aerialists we are so physical, our physical capacities can grow and grow, but what about the mental aspect of what we do? We like to think we are super strong, tough cookies but we might not always counter for our mental needs.

I think this is important to think about when taking on work and filling schedules. Just because we have space in the calendar doesnt mean we have the capacity to take on everything that comes with it. It’s completely reasonable to need space and time between work especially work that drains your resources.

For me the level of awareness and attention required for teaching aerial (especially kids) drains me and I know I need breaks and space in between it to recoup. Also if I am creating work that requires bringing a lot of emotion to the surface I need to factor things in to protect myself from overwhelm.

If we can get rid of the shame and the big G (guilt) around needing time and space, and get rid of the expectation to ‘power through’ we can better regulate our own mental capacities, understand our own needs and better look after our mental health.

I would love to hear the methods you use to look after your mental health within aerial work 💛


Guilt has come up a lot in these conversations relating to aerial. Feeling guilt for..
– times we are not training
– food we are eating
– rest we are taking
– letting coaches/ students down
– not commiting enough time
– not working hard enough
– having a social life
– taking breaks

In a industry which is heavily reliant on the needs and approval of others aka directors, funding bodies, audition judges. We might be prone to forgetting our own needs and because of this feeling guilty for attending to them.

Aswell as feeling guilty for letting people down and disappointing, I also feel guilt when I am given an opportunity. I feel guilty for getting it as other people would want the opportunity.

For me guilt is very heavy and when i feel guilt for one thing I feel guilty for everything I do. And this heaviness is regardless of how ‘valid’ it is for me to be feeling guilty. If guilt was this orange rope, this is how it would look on me

This is clearly something that I personally struggle with a lot. But from these conversations I dont think I am the only one.

I would love to hear your thoughts and experience of this in the aerial or performing arts industry 💛

P.s The book ‘How to do the work’ by The Holistic Psychologist has helped me a lot with reducing the heaviness of guilt.


As aerialists we spend a lot of time on our craft and after a while we can start living and breathing it so much that it becomes who we are.  

I found aerial at a point in my life where I was lost and a little broken. I used it to heal the cracks until I filled myself to the brim with it so there was room for nothing else. It was a perfect distraction and it matched my idea that successful, highly skilled, physical careers were only for those who were able to completely dedicate every inch of their lives to perfecting their technical ability. 

It became my identity. I was an aerialist now. People had to accept that I am a shiny, new, exciting, thing.  

When we can’t separate ourselves from our art/ work/ business we can become every peak, every failure, every win, every setback, every quiet period. It begins to consume us. It can become harder to separate the rejections from our own being.  

What does this mean when we are injured or can’t train for whatever reason? Who are we then? What’s left of us?  

A lot of us don’t need much persuading that we are not good enough, so if we let every mistake, failure, quiet period become a direct reflection of our own self-worth this can get extremely difficult to cope with.  

I feel it is important to find a balance and separate our work / artistry from who we are as people. So our identity, worth and wellbeing cannot be manipulated by things that are judged externally. 

Me and @kalinasuter (Instagram) spoke about this in our Live on Thursday. You can watch it back on Kalina’s page. 


This one is about aging as I had a lot of requests for it. 

I find this difficult to write about as I feel unqualified to talk about it. But anyway here are my thoughts, please add yours. 

I hear people say they wish they would have started aerial earlier in life or they are ‘too old’ to start. I find it sad that this holds people back. I have even heard teenagers say its too late because they think it’s something they have to have started as a 3-year-old to succeed in it. I have seen so many people start aerial at so many stages of their lives and become beautiful and successful aerialists. But also doing an aerial class doesn’t mean you are striving to become a professional aerialist. Professionals and hobbyists are valid at any age.

People talk as if as an aerialist you have a ‘sell by date’. Like it’s something you do when you are younger before you go and get a ‘real job’. Something short-term that you have to ‘enjoy while you can’. I think after spending years building your practice, skills, creating the work you want to create this concept is quite scary if you feel you have to give it all up, like it was all for nothing. I like to think we are able to keep growing in the aerial field in whatever direction we fancy for as long as we wish without age holding us back. I don’t know how naïve that is but I have seen enough evidence to still believe this idea. I understand physical ability may vary and send us on different paths. I also understand people who want to change careers to something less intense physically and mentally. But I think if we believe that we are past our ‘prime’, this can make us stuck. 

I also think age benchmarks are unhealthy. I hate them in general. I don’t believe we need to have achieved certain things by certain ages. Life happens and we don’t need the extra pressure.  

Anyway that’s my thoughts.. What are your thoughts on aging as an aerialist?


Fear has come up a lot in the research I have done around aerial. Fear of losing strength, fear of not being good enough, fear of body shape changing, fear of doing something embarrassing, ect. Funnily enough not so much fear of hanging upside-down metres in the air. 

I was a very fearful and anxious kid. I worried a lot about what people might think of me, what I looked like and what I did but at the same time I was a complete dare devil and would climb any tree, wall, rock. My fear has always been about external judgement so pursuing a career in performance was an interesting choice. 

Performing is very vulnerable. You are putting yourself in front of an audience and expressing yourself or something to some capacity and you can feel very exposed. Therefore, it is understandable that you might feel fearful of judgement. However, if fear is getting in the way of what we want to create or work on then that’s when it holds us back.  

Fear is a very real emotion so it’s not like we can switch it off. For example, exposure therapy presents a person with what they fear, in a safe environment, repeatedly, which can then reduce the fear over time.  

This is why I think safe environment and exposure are key. Sometimes aerial studios/ centres are physically safe but not safe spaces for vulnerability and creativity. Being in an unsupportive and toxic environment can drastically effect progress. 

Exposure. Surrounding ourselves with people and feeds promoting that losing strength is a disaster is not going to help us with a fear of losing strength for example. If we seek out supportive, non-judgemental people who promote self-care we are probably going to feel less fear around these things or feel more comfortable questioning them.

The 4 fears mentioned above were ones that I have personally struggled with a lot. But like learning to love spiders, Ive learnt that losing strength is ok, body change is ok, doing something embarrassing is ok and what even is ‘good enough’? Reducing these fears has been so liberating.

What are your aerial related fears and how do you manage them? 

Wishing you a less fearful life!


Overtraining is not uncommon in highly intense and physical careers but it doesn’t mean that it needs to be this way. I think it’s possible to be high level aerialists without constantly pushing our bodies to the limit, as this can be detrimental to physical and mental health.

Reasons for overtraining might include fear of losing strength, fear of body change, not listening to the body, lack of self-care, pressure from others, need for distraction, to name a few.  

I used to be obsessed with the soreness that came from training and if I didn’t feel it when I woke up I would push harder to feel it again the next day. I discovered it was coming from some kind of self-sabotage and punishment for not being ‘good enough’. Since I have unpacked what has been behind this I have started to let it go.

It’s not an easy thing to do especially if it is a long term habit and is often not as simple as just training less. Depending on what is personally fuelling it, it can be extremely uncomfortable to explore. However, the more we understand our reasons, the more we can work towards healthier training habits.  

Scrolling social media can lead to a lot of ‘rest day guilt’ with the constant stream of training videos making us think we should be in a studio and training something. Flexibility training can easily sneak into a rest day because we think it can be ‘less intense’, but is that rest? 

Our minds and bodies need a break from the intense things we put them through. I’ve only recently become able to watch a whole film without sitting in a split. Its ok and important to rest and if you need more rest than someone else it doesn’t make you a lesser person or aerialist. It also doesn’t make you ‘lazy’.

What are your thoughts on overtraining?