Courtesy of Jhoni Jackson
Peak conditions, for most musicians, are slowly developed - not forced into our musical lives at great expense...
You don't have to squeeze a mini-gym into your home and spend hundreds of dollars a month on bulk quantities of nutritional supplements to keep yourself in decent physical and mental shape as a busy professional musician.
You should strive to maintain at least a modicum of healthy behaviors everyday. Though, as busy as a professional musician can be, you still require balance. And, keeping up your mental abilities and your sense of health can be pretty rough on your body, your wallet, and your state of mind.
Here are five ways to best defend against major emotional stress and the maintenance of your personal daily health.
1. Prepare thoroughly
This one speaks directly to your mental state as a busy musician on a day to day basis: Plan well and you'll experience far less stress throughout your working day.
If you're a teacher - plan what you'll teach. If you're a side-man be sure you practice the material. Never just wing-it. This is a recipe for disaster, and a surefire way to never get a call-back.
Planning is especially important for gigs. Obviously, you cannot be late for a gig. Research before you route. Learn about the location of where you're booked to play. Get solidly organized for your trip, (especially if it's out of town).
Make sure you've got funds – not just the money you expect to earn – available for food and gas (and a backup stash for emergencies too, like a blown tire). If it's an over-night, figure out where you'll stay to avoid the costly or crappy sleeping situations that result from late-night, last-minute scrambling.
And, be sure to get your vehicle checked out before you go to minimize the chance of surprise malfunctions.
The more rigorously you map out all aspects of any gig, the less likely you are to encounter problems, meaning less strain on your mental well-being.
2. Stay hydrated
Even mild dehydration can drain your energy and make you tired, according to the Mayo Clinic (and also common sense). Everyone knows humans need to drink plenty of water on a regular basis. And, this actually increases during higher periods of brain activity. So, if you're studying, or if you're a teacher teaching classes all evening, DRINK WATER.
Though, you might need to up that intake ever greater during longer rehearsals or personal practice sessions. Also, when on gigs, remember - the more you sweat, the more water you will need. So, consider the climate and the intensity of your sets when gauging how frequently you need to hydrate.
Tip: Don't waste money (or plastic) on bottled water. It can get really expensive. Take along a high-quality reusable container and fill up free of charge at gas stations, venues, people's houses, or anywhere else you stop along the way.
3. Eat well and supplement
Fast food and gas station snacks are the easiest way to eat when on the way to band practice, to your gig, or during breaks while you are teaching your students each night. But you know damn well they're also the unhealthiest.
Everyone tends to enjoy a big fat juicy cheese-burger and fries, but a meal high in fat will bog you down with grogginess. Avoid succumbing to the temptations of delicious-but-detrimental dining by planning your meals and snacks well in advance. Stock up on groceries for the road – buy healthy stuff – from the get-go, then re-up before you run out.
Healthy eating doesn't only help your physical energy levels, but also aids brain function. (And you'll save a lot of money this way, too).
High quality nutritional supplements are also great. A dose of high-quality Vitamin B12 methylcobalamin will give you a nice energy boost and clear your mind of brain fog. A high-quality liquid Vitamin D3 of Cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) helps maintain a positive attitude and a good overall feeling. And, Fish Oil will boost your mental processes, keeping you more sharp and on-track through your day.
There are also many other supplements that will help you with staying focused and maintaining a much better /healthier balanced daily routine. So, definitely research this area and learn about how nutraceuticals can make a big difference for you.
4. Get adequate rest
Another factor in maintaining high energy levels and a good attitude is sleep. It's not always possible to get the recommended seven to eight hours, (especially on tour). That's where naps come in. Studies show they can help make up for hours lost: A nap can give your brain a boost, better your mood, and lower your stress levels.
But not all naps are created equal – there are stipulations. Ten to 30 minutes between 1:00 and 4:00 p.m., apparently, is an official power nap. Rest for too long and you might feel foggy; start your quickie shut-eye too late in the day and you'll likely screw up your nighttime sleep. Try to get into a routine of remembering that three-hour window of ideal nap-time, and if you're on the road, take turns among whoever needs the extra sleep or who's driving the vehicle the longest.
5. Be positive
It's a tried-and-true way of being for countless musicians, but there's also plenty scientific support for the PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) long-established ethos.
A perpetually chin-up perspective decreases stress and potential for depression, helps your body resist the common cold, boosts your psychological health, and much more – all of which can be especially helpful in meeting the demands of a busy musician.
Jhoni Jackson is an Atlanta-bred music journalist currently based in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where she juggles owning a venue called Club 77, freelance writing and, of course, going to the beach as often as possible.