We don’t think about it, but learning to be still is a skill. Being still in our minds, calm in our bodies and at ease in every way can be really really hard. As musicians, constant sounds, movement and expression often make us feel at home……..but for a moment, let me offer a point for reflection.
Have you ever considered that music is really a relationship between both sound and silence?
Songs would loose meaning without breaths between phrases and pauses between the notes. Ironically, those momentary pauses add more life and energy to the sound. Rests in a score are distinctly placed to add dimension and clarity in shaping musical ideas.
I’ve even witnessed powerful grand pauses in live performance that leave audiences captivated. So you see my friends, music needs both. Sound and silence.
Whether we realize it or not, I think the same thing is true about our own lives. Yet, all too often we ignore the rests.
As performers it’s easy to get wrapped up in our craft. We love what we do and any singer knows how important it is to give 110%. Still, everyday life takes a toll on us, both physically and emotionally.
We know the tragic stories of legendary artists that got deeply consumed by the performance industry and suffered because of it.
There are times as singers where it’s easy neglect our well-being. The things that immediately come to mind are tech weeks, intense stretches of traveling, conferences/festivals, all day competitions or late rehearsals.
The daily routine of a singer don’t always fall into the normalcy of a 9-5. Our careers require a unique flexibility, but also a huge need for personal consistency. Additionally, we’re constantly being critiqued and self-assessing to perfect what we do. Over time this can build up and separate us from our best selves.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever neglected sleep to practice….or eaten crappy food throughout the day as you rush from one place to the next?? Days become weeks, but the hustle must continue, right???
No one intends to maintain unhealthy routines, but high stress on stage or in the rehearsal room can bleed into the other areas of our lives without proper boundaries for ourselves and our emotional space.
Practicing self care is utterly important.
It doesn’t mean that you’re being selfish.
Now, I’m not saying you need a lavish spa trip every weekend to relax……. (I meannnnnn, it would be really cool though, but it’s just not realistic). Still, there are many practical things singers can do to embrace wholeness and rest.
Things to Consider/ Tips
- Understand what it means to be busy and what it means to be straight up restless. There’s a difference. Know when you need to have a seat, because if you don’t, life will sit you down. Sickness, severe mental panic, emotional overload, you name it. They’re all really real. We’re human.
- Regularly ask yourself how you’re doing. We always ask other people how they are, but we rarely pose this question to ourselves.
- Create real time to buy real food and travel-friendly snacks. And please folks, stop skipping breakfast. There’s nothing worse than being haaangry in rehearsal and watching people turn evil because of lack of food. Oh yea, and drink water!!! Lots and lots of H2O.
- Know when you need to be around people and when you need alone time. Other people can be draining sometimes. Also, too much isolation can cause one to become angsty. Know what balance works for you and protect it.
- Take time to step away from social media.
- Practice positive self-talk and fight the urge to become stuck in your head. Leave sticky notes with written affirmations in important places or set reminders in your phone that are uplifting. Half of the daily battle is in our minds. For help, check out this vid: (here)
- Feed your spirit in a way that speaks to your soul. Pray or meditate. This song by Jonathan McReynolds (here) always ministers to me when I need it!
- Declutter the space were you live. Treat your hair and nails with some TLC. Our outer world affects our inner world and vice versa.
- Use the power of memory to stay inspired and appreciative. Hold on to pivotal moments in your career and use those as fuel and a positive reminder of your gifts.
- Never underestimate the need for fresh air, sunshine or plants and trees.
- Journal, doodle, makes lists of things to organize your thoughts or just write random stuff that you want to release. This (here) is by far the BEST explanation I have read about the importance and practicality of journaling.
- Go on a walk or run. Practice yoga.
- Stop treating sleep like an second class citizen in your life.
- Spend time smiling and laughing. Sometimes when I’m really bogged down I watch stand up comedy. Most recently I’ve been enjoying Trevor Noah. It always makes me feel light again.
***Now all of these tips are great, but the key is also being committed to them to create a more natural rhythm and flow in your daily life. Create a personalized self care routine that works for you and stick to it.
Consistency will help you reap the rewards of self care.
We can’t seek to perfect our musical craft and neglect the self and spirit that produces the art. It all works together.
Let’s be honest.
As singers we’re a sensitive and emotional breed. We need our sanity.
In fact, the songs and seasons of our life depend on it.
Appropriate time to reset and be still makes room for us to release our burdens, bringing us back to all that’s alive inside of us. Life’s too short to be strung out on stress. If we don’t make self care a priority, how can we as musicians expect to give our all to a world that needs more joy, vulnerability and authenticity?
It may be tough, but maybe when we embrace the rests, life becomes less about meaningless sound and more about music.
Visit links to these AMAZING books on self care and the artistic journey
Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself
Neon Soul: A Collection of Poetry and Prose
The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself
Pick Me Up: A Pep Talk for Now and Later
Own Your Glow: A Soulful Guide to Luminous Living and Crowning the Queen Within
I’m Interested in Your Journey!!!
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