Why You Need to Prioritise Self Care as a Singer
We singers can tend to feel as though we got the rough end of the instrument deal. As soon as we get a sniffle, the voice is affected. As soon as we haven't had enough sleep, the voice suffers.
As soon as we inhale an ice-cream before a practice session, boy do we know all about it!
Yes it's true that a guitarist can indulge in as many pre-performance ice-creams as he/she'd like but instead of viewing it as an issue, let's celebrate the fact that we have a legitimate excuse to take really good care of ourselves.
Self care is something that can be overlooked by singers and it shouldn't be. Your body is your instrument, so it's your job to keep it in tip-top condition.
Think of yourself as a professional athlete. If an athlete stopped training and ate hamburgers all week, they're not going to be able to perform at their best. If you're not taking care of yourself, your voice will let everyone know it.
Okay, so what are the most important factors to look at when thinking about self care as a singer?
Get more of it. Sounds simple, doesn't it? Your body needs between 7 and 9 hours of the good stuff a night.
Getting adequate sleep will keep your immune system firing, kick up your energy, reduce stress levels, ensure you're more alert and allow you to make better decisions - all things that we want tipping in our favour as performers.
It is worth leaving the latest episode of Game of Thrones until tomorrow if it's close to midnight (trust me).
There are a couple of reasons why exercise is important to consider when it comes to a vocalist's wellbeing.
Firstly, exercise is a great way to release tension and stress (of all kinds - emotional, physical and mental). In order to perform efficiently, our body needs to be rid of any strain - exercise can be used to stretch out tight muscles and loosen things up.
The other reason working out is a killer idea is stamina. Rumour has it that Beyoncé's father used to get her to practice singing while running on a treadmill to increase her breath capacity and endurance!
I wouldn't suggest that this is necessarily the best way to achieve that, but certainly getting some aerobic exercise into your week will enable you to cope better with on stage movement while singing.
Now I'm not going to lecture you about eating enough vegetables and cutting out fried food (although you do know that'll make you feel amazing, right?).
I am however going to ask that you start to pay attention to how different foods affect you. Do you feel lethargic and bloated after eating wheat? Does dairy produce extra mucus in your throat?
You don't have to be on an uber-strict diet 24/7 but it is best to watch what you eat before a performance. Know what foods to avoid and what to load up on.
ANXIETY AND OTHER TRICKY EMOTIONAL BLOCKS
Now not everyone loves to meditate for an hour a day (you might feel as though this is your own personal hell) but you do need to find ways to relax, unwind and offload.
Being a performer, you are probably quite tapped into your emotions and have to deal with those awful things such as performance anxiety, audition stress, rejection and fear of failure. All of these things can deplete your energy and impact on your voice.
You may find that yoga is the best way for you to detox, maybe it's a massage, perhaps it's simply talking to other artists about what's bothering you. Whatever it is, find a way to balance your emotions and mental health.