Another year has begun. A new school year, a new teaching year, a new performance year. In fact, why we celebrate the “New Year” in January is strange. What’s new about more snow and cold? Many religions still celebrate their new years in September. It makes sense; the harvest is in and a new cycle begins. Lofty cerebral ponderings of why calendars have evolved in this way, aside, the fact remains that for many of us it is the start of a new cycle in our Singers lives, whether as a student, teacher or performer. This time of year also heralds the start of cold and flu season, and with the weight of responsibilities expected of us, can also increase the stress in our lives, which if left unchecked can impair your immune system. So this is a time at which self-care is more important than ever!
Self-care incorporates a number of elements and though it may seem like you don’t have the time to indulge in it, in the long run you can avoid getting sick and overwhelmed. No one wants to cancel a performance or a lesson. Taking care of yourself will also maintain your productivity and most importantly your creativity. So here are some tips to taking care of you and your voice.
Make time for yourself!
This is the most important step. All the other elements of self-care depend on you allotting time to for yourself. Schedule this time in you calendar – you are making an appointment with yourself and don’t break it for anything else!
Make sure you are eating a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables. You should be getting a minimum of 2-3 servings of fruit a day and 3-5 servings of veggies. This is the part of the diet that usually is the most neglected, but contains the most micro- and phyto-nutrients that will help with immune function and energy levels. Also (and I probably don’t need to mention this to singers), stay well hydrated. Drink 6-8 glasses of water daily. This helps flush the body of toxins, helps in the uptake of nutrients into the body, keeps your vocal folds hydrated and so much more.
Get enough sleep!
Sleep is the time that your body and mind are being repaired. You cannot skimp on it without repercussions. Read Are You Getting Enough Sleep? to find out more.
Staying strong and fit helps increase your immunity. It makes everyday tasks much easier. Exercise can helps with mood, assists in stress management. It also prevents cardiovascular disease. You get the added benefits of weight management and a toned body and it will help your singing. You can easily get a good workout done in 30 minutes a day.
Have some quiet time!
This could be in the form of meditation or just having a relaxing soak in a tub. Or drink a soothing herbal tea by the fire. Or maybe a gentle walk in the woods with the crisp leaves crunching under your feet while you enjoy the colors of autumn; nature is a great place to have quiet time. Whatever makes you feel recharged and lets your mind clear. That’s actually the most important part of it, training you mind to let go of your worries.
Do something you enjoy! Go out with friends, read a good book, watch a movie…whatever gives you pleasure! This is a very personal thing and may depend on whether you are an introvert or extrovert and other personality traits. It may overlap with some of the other elements of self-care. Letting your hair down once in awhile is important to maintaining balance in your life and will help keep your stress levels down.
For me, taking these elements into account has made a world of difference. I used to be quite sickly and seemed to come down with something about every 6 weeks. Making lifestyle changes (especially eating well), has made a huge impact on my health.
So here’s to a healthy, creative and productive new year!