These days it seems like every time you ask someone how they are the answer is “busy”. In an age where technology is supposed to ease our workload, the average person is actually working more.
The life of a singer can be exceptionally busy. Since most singers don’t make a living wage off their singing, they need to supplement with other income, so add to a daily job and household responsibilities the time for lessons, research, practice, rehearsals and performances and you can be busy from early morning to late in the night.
If you’re lucky enough to be a successful professional singer, life is still a hectic whirlwind of travel, lessons and coachings, auditions and, for some, 8 performances a week or MORE!
A singer’s life is full of stress.
It’s not just the busyness, but the emotional stress that we need to get through dealing with auditions, performance expectations (ours and other’s), reviews, rejections, competition and worrying about our vocal health.
You as a singer are already most likely a sensitive soul. Singers, as other musicians, feel deeply. This gives us the ability to transform the notes and words on a page into a profound emotional experience for your audience. This also makes us more vulnerable to mental health issues.
What is stress?
Stress is a natural response to external stimulus. It’s part of our fight or flight instinct. You sense a threat and your body starts to release a number of stress hormones into the body, mostly from the adrenal gland.
A stressor is the stimulus (or threat) that causes stress, e.g. exam, audition, performance, divorce, death of loved one, moving house, loss of job.
Sudden and severe stress generally produces:
This explains the pre-performance shallow breathing and loss of appetite, and the post-performance colds that many singers experience.
Usually, when the threat is past, your body goes back into a balanced state.
Problems start to occur when the stress doesn't dissipate or occurs with great frequency. This is chronic stress. It can affect the immune, metabolic and cardiovascular systems, and lead to atrophy of the brain's hippocampus (crucial for long-term memory and spatial navigation).
Cortisol (one of the main stress hormones), stays elevated. This is the hormone that releases glucose for energy. This can lead to unregulated eating and the craving for “comfort” foods, to maintain the energy levels that the stress response is asking for. Outcomes of this can be obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes.
In fact, untreated chronic stress can result in serious many serious health conditions. In addition to the above it can also lead to anxiety and depression, insomnia, muscle pain and heart disease.
Despite its connection to illness, it’s estimated that 33 percent of Americans never discuss ways to manage stress with their healthcare provider.
So how can you tell if you are over stressed or approaching burnout?
If you’re to stressed you might feel:
If you’ve reached the point of burnout you will be experiencing:
If you are experiencing burnout or chronic stress symptoms then be sure to address this with your health care practitioner.
8 Tips to Manage Stress:
The best way to manage stress is to make it a priority to do so. So here are 8 tips to help you reduce the stress in your life.
If you want more stress busting tips and a supportive community of singers, then click here to join our free group The Fit Singer Community.