Lifestyle Changes: 5 Ways Music Professionals Can Maintain Health And Avoid Burnout
What a time to be alive! It seems there are more ways than ever to get involved in the music industry and more ways than ever to find and connect with artists, producers, and managers over social media. Of course, it makes all the sense in the world to use every opportunity we can find and utilize all of these resources available to us.
But sometimes to be part of something good, you need to be able to take time away to refuel yourself. I’m talking about self-care and self-regulation - healthy, positive things you can do for yourself to keep yourself going long-term. Because wouldn’t it be awful to almost reach your goal and then run out of gas? We all need to take care of ourselves in order to have the energy and endurance to reach our goals.
So, in the words of one of my favourite popular tweets: “I don’t know who needs to hear this right now, but…”
Feed yourself affordable, healthy food
I know, I know. We’ve all heard it a thousand times from one place or another. But it couldn’t be more true or more important for your long-term endurance: eat healthy food as often as you can! What we put in our bodies is our fuel, and affects us more than we realize; it has a big impact on our ability to focus, handle stress, think quickly on our feet, remember things, and have the energy to work long hours. Basically everything it takes to be a music professional.
“But Lara, eating loads of fruits and vegetables is expensive!”
Well, it doesn’t have to be. Don’t feel like you have to spend a whole pay cheque at a place like Whole Foods (holy guacamole, that place…). Find a small local market (not a farmer’s market, just a small independent grocery shop that sells fresh fruit and vegetables), and load up on fresh (but much better priced) vegetables and fruits. If you like cooking, then doing some meal prep for the week should set you up with ready-to-go meals you can take to all of your gigs. If you haven’t tried your hand at cooking yet, don’t sweat it - just wash the vegetables and fruit, chop ‘em up, and pop them into ziplock bags or reusable plastic containers that you can grab whenever you want a snack. It all adds up, and in the long-term your body will thank you.
Respect your own boundaries
This is about how to say no to some things to make sure you’re saying yes to the things you need. When your plate is already full, saying no to someone or a time commitment that you can’t take on is saying yes to your needs and your health. Know what you’re okay with, and not okay with ahead of time, otherwise you will be unsure in the moment and more likely to cave to what the other person wants. Basically, protect your energy reserves and your time!
This isn’t laziness or weakness - it’s organization and self-knowledge. There’s no faster way to sink a ship than to cut holes in it and let the water pour in. I mean, maybe there’s a faster way to sink a ship but I’m not some nautical Nancy here… you get what I’m saying. Right?
When the going gets rough, it’s easy to lose perspective and become overwhelmed, jealous, or lost,especially in the entertainment industry. Often, people will begin to isolate themselves and focus on the wrong things. You don’t need fifty friends, an Instagram account that looks like you’re at all the coolest parties, or the newest iPhone. What we need are strong, positive connections.
Meaningful relationships are what are important in life, and that is what we should be focused on. They will keep you grounded and support you through the tough times. If you have two or three people in your life that you can fully trust and confide in, then you are lucky. Appreciate them, make time for them, and listen to them when they give you advice. Lean on their love when you need to. Many people in this world will not have your best interests in mind, so make sure you spend time around someone who does. They’ll help give you perspective on what really matters, and what doesn’t.
Do something OTHER than music
Modern day culture is obsessed with work, with never resting, and never stopping the grind. Of course we need to work hard, persevere, and not give up in order to reach our goals. But rest is a vital factor in that equation too. We need to be able to step back, relax, and recharge so that we can come back to work refreshed and energized, and with a clear mind.
Think of it like this: if you never put gas in your car, never changed its oil, never changed its tires, never refilled the coolant, never checked the brakes, would you expect it to drive well? Would you expect it to be able to drive a long road trip? Of course not. Systems need the right care and attention to function - your body and mind are systems and have things they need to function and to function well. And one of those things is rest!
So, although it may seem counterintuitive, take time away from your work now and then - go do anything else you’re interested in. Are you passionate about a sport? Drawing? Collecting rocks? Reading a book? Taking an afternoon to try cooking a new recipe? Going for a walk? It doesn’t have to cost money. It’s just about taking time for you to do something you enjoy.
Exercise, then more exercise
It can’t be repeated enough. My doctor told me exercise is the closest thing we have to something that will positively impact all aspects of our health - both physical, AND mental. It doesn’t have to be hardcore workouts - it’s not about bulking up, or losing weight, or looking like those IG models that we’re all secretly obsessed with. There are lots of free workout tutorials on YouTube that you can learn from and do in your bedroom, it doesn’t require much space. Then go for a walk or run for your cardio, and make sure you do some light stretches before and after. And of course, follow all of this up with drinking lots of water and getting enough hours of shut-eye each night.
But why should we put ourselves through the unique torture that is exercise? We know it makes us “healthier”, but what does that have to do with music? Everything, as it turns out. It will give you stronger abdominal muscles, which helps with singing and rapping. It gives you better cardio, which can help you do longer live shows without getting out of breath. It gives you more endurance and strength to do your best in a video shoot. It gives you better posture, which makes you look confident in your photo shoots and interviews. And it lowers your stress levels and helps clear your mind. If staying in the music industry long-term is your goal, then exercise needs to be a part of your schedule.
Stay healthy! It’s the right move for your career in music
Eating healthy food translates into having the energy to work those long hours in the studio or travel on tour, to practice your instrument for longer, or to have higher energy for performing at your shows.
Respecting your own boundaries translates into prioritizing your goals. It means setting aside the time to practice for your recording session or making sure you get time to mentally prepare before you go on stage.
Relaxing your mind gives it the time to refresh itself, and translates into having more mental space for creativity. That means more presence for your next performance, and more ideas for your next project. Go take that walk!
Positive relationships are crucial and keep us grounded, focused, and supported in a substantial, long-term way.
Light but regular exercise strengthens our body and gives us the endurance to do all the things we want to do with our time.
You can use all of these tools to improve your ability to give your all in your music career. You got this!
Disclaimer: This blog post is not meant to be taken as medical advice, nor is it substitution for real, medical assistance. It is always a good idea to schedule regular check ups with your family doctor (a general practitioner). But if you have any questions, are struggling through a hard time, or feel you need a helping hand right now, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your doctor and ask for help. We’re lucky to have access to free healthcare in Ontario, and there’s no shame in taking care of your health. Who knows, you might even be setting a positive example for someone else to see.
Here is a link to find an OHIP-covered (free) family doctor if you don’t have one: https://www.ontario.ca/page/find-family-doctor-or-nurse-practitioner.
DISCLAIMER: All of the photos used in this blog post are free stock images from www.unsplash.com. They are not representations of the actual facilities, equipment, or persons at Sandbox Studios.