HEALTH TIPS FOR THE MUSICIAN
Being healthy means you don’t miss gigs, and don’t have to spend money you would rather spend on studio time or instruments on a doctor’s visit. Here are a few ways you can keep a little more of that money in your pockets, and where it can do more for your career.
WATER IS YOUR FRIEND
Sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to do. There is a lot to be said for drinking more water and less other things. Water has no calories, costs very little to nothing, and is great for keeping vital things like vocal cords and skin healthy. There are few things more irritating than a scratchy throat or split fingers if you are trying to play your instrument, and drinking plenty of water can help prevent both of these. This can also help you keep your skin less wrinkled and your weight down, allowing you to need less money in the long run trying to fix appearance problems as you age, and, in this sadly Hollywood-image field we are in, can probably up your chances of getting contracts simply because you are more youthful and healthy looking than your competition. If you happen to play in a very air-conditioned or heated area, keeping the place humidified can also keep your instruments in better shape and prevent a lot of cracking problems in things like wooden parts and skins, saving you money in repairs and replacement costs. To help keep humidity in the place if you can’t afford a humidifier, try keeping a few potted plants around-keeping them moist enough to be healthy seems to keep the air around them the right moisture level as well. Keeping some lotion around that you find works helps a lot, too-seal in all that good moisture to your hands and face.
LEARN TO RELAX
This is another simple thing that is really hard to do. Many musicians have a really hard time “coming down” from a stage show, big meeting with industry bigwigs, or a really good writing session. Many methods exist to allow one to sit still and force oneself to unwind without the need for chemicals so you can get a decent night’s sleep. Consider taking a class in Yoga or meditation; find something that really helps you wind down like a warm bubble bath, reading or some other pursuit. Things that work for me, strangely enough, are working on my taxes (so boring it numbs my brain out), curling up in front of the television watching cartoons, a long, slow workout followed by a hot shower or reading a book-especially if the book has a lot of imagery or highly technical data to absorb. I’ve also found that doing the meditation trick of thinking about sitting and relaxing doing something that soothes you is very helpful-many classes do the scene about sitting on a beach and thinking about being there, while I find thinking about doing yard work or building very relaxing. The important thing is to bore yourself with something that is fun for you, or lets you feel you are accomplishing something beneficial to you. Avoiding chemicals also prevents you from becoming habituated to them-something that can hurt you in the long run. Longer and longer runs or reading can only do you good, while costly chemical solutions often end careers in one way or another. Try to find fun, healthy, low-cost rituals instead.
You can never really get enough practice, so try to find ways to practice even if you don’t have your instrument around. Flexing your fingers backwards like your hands are eagle claws about to strike is great for many instrumentalists, as is doing this then drawing your fingers towards your palms after doing the claw stretch, as if you were about to make a fist, but then allowing the finger to come back to the initial position. I find this is a great way to work kinks out if I have been doing too much work with a pencil, too, at times when I have been frantically writing lyric ideas down. Pretending you are doing scales with both fingers or trying to make your fingers hold a certain chord position helps, too. Drawing your knees up as high as you can one at a time while sitting watching television or doing desk duty at work can help keep your legs and waistline in shape, too, and this can not only help your appearance but help things like your singing or ability to stand holding your instrument for longer periods of time, too. Try surfing the web for other fun exercises you can do while seated-there are lots of fun ones, and any exercise helps keep your weight down and helps you avoid all the health problems associated with that.
So try these simple suggestions and see how it helps your writing. It is amazing how much more endurance you may find you’ll have just by drinking more water, learning to relax, and getting a little more exercise.