These are disruptive and worrying times to be sure. We are holed up in our homes as many countries, states and provinces have issued shelter-in-place orders. Singers and other performing artists are losing their income. And it’s not just from cancelled performances. Many singers work a second job in the hospitality industry. The closures of restaurants, lay-off from airlines, these have a far reaching effect.
I’m hearing from doctor friends about the severity of it. The life or death choices they are needing to make. And here’s something not mentioned often enough in the media - if you do get it and survive you may get permanent lung damage!
All this is scary stuff!!!
All these worries and isolation can also end up affecting our mental health. So this is a time more than ever that we have to keep looking for the positive.
If you look you can see people showing great amounts of love.
The list goes on if you look for it…
In my neighbourhood, some thoughtful soul dotted the pathways with pinwheels full of posititve messages like “Be Kind”, “Laugh”, ”Smile”.
But don’t forget to show some love to yourself, as well.
This is an especially critical time. Parents trying to juggle working from home and looking after their kids. Loss of jobs. Self-isolation. These are all hard on our emotional, mental, physical and social health. So making time to show yourself some love is important.
Here are a few suggestions for your self-care.
This Too Shall Pass
Remind yourself that these are unusual circumstances, that humans are highly adaptable and that this time will pass. The arts community is already adapting with live streaming concerts, balcony concerts, etc. And when this all blows over - you can bet people will want to celebrate! And celebrate BIG! What’s a celebration without music? Start working on your cover of “Happy Days Are Here Again”.
Be Kind to Yourself
Know that you are doing the best you can in the current situation. Forgive yourself for not dealing with the stress and trauma as you think people expect you to. We all have our own ways of coping. Give yourself some grace.
And don’t forget that everyone else is dealing with it too. Sure some people may be acting in an irrational manner to our way of thinking, but they are scared and people react in different ways. Give them and yourself some slack. It will take a burden off your mind.
Stick to a Schedule
Maintain some form of schedule. Keeping busy and practicing some self-discipline can keep your mind occupied. Don’t use this as an excuse to binge watch Netflix and sleep the day away. If you usually have a morning routine, stick to it. Keep meals as regular as possible. Make time to get outside for a walk. Those working from home with kids may need to make creative schedules. For example parents can work in alternating 90 minute blocks; while one parent works the other is looking after the kids.
If you have more time on your hands, this can be a great time to try new recipes or work on improving your nutrition. Plan out some meals and do a day of meal prep. Even though you are at home there will be times that you just don’t feel like preparing anything, but that can lead to stress eating crappy food, which will just make you feel worse in the end. Having healthy food already prepared is the best way to beat the impulse eating. Healthy eating can help boost immunity and help regulate hormones related to stress.
Whether it’s a stroll through your neighbourhood, dancing to your favourite songs in your living room or doing, yoga or an at home HIIT body weight workout, keep moving. Exercise has been shown to be as effective as antidepressants to boost mood. It will also protect you from back pain that can occur from being too sedentary. As well, you want to keep your alignment and core singing ready!
Now is a great time to get into better sleeping habits. Reset your circadian rhythms for better health. Go to bed at a regular time. Get your 7 - 9 hours. Allow yourself to wake up naturally without an alarm clock. A good night's sleep can help reduce anxiety, boost your mood and strengthen your immune system.
Though the term started out as social distancing, what we are really doing is physical distancing. Humans are social creatures. Our well-being is derived, in part by our social interactions. Having meaningful relationships is key to that. For extroverts especially, being in isolation can be hard. So stay connected. Video chats are the best way, because we get more out of the interaction by seeing other people's facial expressions. Have a Zoom Happy Hour with some friends. Skype with your parents or grandparents. Even a good ol’ phone call can do the trick. Going out for a walk can also help even if you aren’t stopping to talk to other people and staying 2 metres away - you will feel less alone.
Learn Something New
Take the extra time you have to try something new. We all have something we have always wanted to learn, but don’t have the time. This is the perfect opportunity to start. Start learning a new language, learn to knit. You can even have a game with your family - learn one new fact every day and share it.
Whether you make time for meditation or do household chores in a mindful way this is a great way to show yourself some love. There are some great guided meditations on self-love, self-esteem, gratitude, tranquility, stress relief - whatever you need it’s out there. That the time to just BREATHE.
As a singer you are already a creative being at heart. Using that creativity during this stressful time is a great way to vent feelings. Write, draw, make music, do an interpretive dance. Whatever feels right to you in this moment. Journaling is a great way to get feelings out and a place to put down some creative thoughts. Your soul needs this.
Do Something Indulgent
Some indulgence is good for your self-care. I’m not talking about eating a bag of chips and washing down with a bottle of wine for dinner. That kind of indulgence is numbing and self-destructive. I’m talking about taking a long hot bath (with ONE glass of wine if you like), giving yourself a mani or pedi, take a day to relax and binge watch a series. If it makes you feel happy, something you can savour without numbing yourself, then it’s probably a legit indulgence. Before reaching for that glass of wine or eating a pan of brownies ask yourself this question. “Am I doing this because I’m bored or stressed or am I doing this because I want to relax and savour the moment?”.
If you are already someone who suffers from anxiety, depression or trauma, this can be an even harder time. Make sure you seek out professional help from a qualified healthcare practitioner if you need to.
We are all here to lift each other up.
If you need someone to talk to or help staying on track with healthy habits please feel free to contact me. I’m here for you. You can contact me here or join my Facebook group Vibrant Body Vibrant Voice where I offer a weekly challenge to keep you on track.
Stay safe my dear singers.
Happy New Year!
It’s hard to believe we’re already two weeks into the new year!
Someone on my Facebook feed posted a meme that went something like this:
“30 days has September, April, June and November. All the rest have 31 except for January which has about seven #@!$% hundred.”
I know that especially applies to us further north, like here in Winnipeg, where the days are short and the cold is bitter and we won’t be seeing any green until sometime in April. It’s especially hard on those with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), but that’s a whole other blog.
I personally don’t find it long at all. When back to school doesn’t start until nearly a week in, and there are upcoming masterclasses, auditions, exams, recitals, festivals and performances, January hardly seems long enough!
And herein lies the problem for many a performer.
We are afraid to miss out!
We don’t want to miss any opportunity to perform and be seen, to network, to take that next step in our performing career. And it’s not just active performers, teachers, too, taking on every possible student and giving their students extras outside of lessons.
This fear of missing out (FOMO) is running us into the ground. We feel stressed. We lose sleep. We skip meals. We start to get sick more often. Our mental and physical health suffer.
As a result our creativity suffers!
How can we possibly sing or teach at our best when we have that kind of load on us?
My friend and business coach Michelle Markwart Deveaux said recently on The Full Voice Podcast, “If you do not choose to take the time off your body will do it for you”.
This is absolutely true, and since I’m feeling in a quotey mood another well-known one is, “If you don’t take time for your wellness, then you will be forced to take time for your illness.”
So to help to help you overcome the FOMO in your life here are 3 tips:
Three Tips to Overcoming FOMO:
1. Choose with Intention:
Most of us have many projects we would like to take on, but it’s time to take a hard look at everything and decide what is really important to you. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself:
Does it “spark joy” as Marie Kondo says?
Does it help you grow personally or professionally?
Does it pay your bills? And are you charging what you’re worth?
If you are doing a freebie, is it a good investment of your time or for the future?
2. Ditch, Delegate and Delay
It’s important to set some boundaries and ask for help when needed. That’s where the 3 Ds come in.
Ditch. Anything that is no longer serving you has to go. Somethings have their season and need to go. Other things may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but may be bogging you down or distracting you from what really needs to happen. If you’ve chosen with intention, then all your other projects can go.
Delegate. There are things that need to be done daily, weekly, monthly, but do YOU really need to do them all. This includes household chores like laundry, meal prep, grocery shopping, cleaning, as well as business things like scheduling, accounting and so on. Can another family member help out with some of the load? Can you outsource some of the tasks?
Delay. Some projects are great. Want to record an album? Want to produce a show? If they aren’t a priority at this moment and you don’t realistically have the time, then it’s something to keep on your wish list, but don’t kill yourself trying to squeeze in everything RIGHT NOW.
3. Make Time for Your Wellness
As I touched on earlier, taking on everything can leave us chronically stressed. It affects our sleep, our eating patterns, which in turn affect our immunity. This can all lead to mental and physical illness. And your ability to practice your art at full capacity will pay the price.
It’s critical to make time for your wellness. This means schedule EVERYTHING. Time for a walk or a workout. Time for meals. Time to socialize or do an activity you enjoy other than singing. Time for sufficient sleep. Time to daydream.
When you’re feeling great you have more energy, you are more productive, and you will be able to create more fully.
Thriving, you’ll feel you are living a life of abundance and the FOMO will not be a constant presence in your life.
I hope you find these tips helpful and will help you make the most of 2020.
If you need help figuring out how to start planning your abundant life and wellness, then be sure to book a Singer’s Wellness Strategy Session and I’d be happy to talk you through it.