by Katherine 'KOOL KAT' Farnham
Hello there and welcome! I hope this finds you well and staying safe. This article will address an important topic: self care for singers. You probably know a bit about this, but let's look at it from a few different angles for best results. During challenging times, what types of activities give you peace and strength? Even though all of us are different, there are a few components that everyone should try to address to the best of their ability. These components are:
a) Physical Health
b) Mental Health
c) Emotional Health
d) Spiritual Health
PHYSICAL HEALTH - You've probably already read alot about this. Diet and exercise are very important. It's also important to get enough sleep, preferably 8 hours per night. In regards to sleep some people need more and some need less, but trust your body. If you feel tired, taking a short nap is ok. Also, take a vacation at least once a year.
MENTAL HEALTH - The mind tends to get overloaded when bombarded with too much at one time. Limit time on social media, television and cell phones because it tends to make people jittery when used to excess. Maintain your focus. Break tasks into little bits and pieces. Do not try to do too much at one time, or you may end up overwhelmed. Do you have someone to talk to when life becomes challenging? This could be someone at your church, a licensed counselor, a trusted family member, teacher, social worker or friend. Don't be afraid to reach out for support. Maintain proper boundaries but recognize that in these times, many people feel anxiety and depression. It is how we handle it that makes the difference. Remember that mental and physical health are linked. Taking a short walk can do wonders. Get out into nature. Aromatherapy oils like lavender also are great natural ways to uplift one's mood.
EMOTIONAL HEALTH - This may sound oversimplified - but what makes you happy? Who makes you happy? I'm a firm believer that good people do what is right regardless of how they feel. This means that emotions are important but values and principles are more important. That being said however, if emotions are continually being neglected, it may cause health and other problems. It's ok to have certain lifestyle preferences. When it comes to vocal lessons, I would always focus mostly on the genre that the student prefers. I do encourage students to try a few new things. However, if you don't like a certain genre of music, there's little point in forcing yourself to do alot of it. Embrace who you are - it is enough. For some people, it is a challenge to be emotionally honest. But eventually we realize that health means we cannot lie even to ourselves. As maturity comes, the more precise we learn to be and also maintain integrity - treating both ourselves and others with respect. But it's a tall order! Why? Because all singers have problems to overcome, regardless of their background or level of success. It's how we manage them that counts. Self reflection and focus on these other areas will in time help with this. Take your time and recognize that going slowly is ok.
SPIRITUAL HEALTH - Regardless of your personal belief system - do you have a spiritual practice? This might be yoga, meditation, going to church or synagogue or mosque or even just a community center where you volunteer and give back once a week. You might also find that taking one day a week and enjoying nature is something that is rejuvenating. Find what works for you and remember that many people’s beliefs evolve over time.
In general, connecting with others from the heart adds value to life. In these times, to maintain greatest health I have found that balance is helpful. Try not to take on too much. Recognize that everyone is dealing with a new circumstance that will take time to resolve. Keep a positive attitude. It will resolve eventually and life will get back to normal.
Also singing regularly is a great spiritual practice! :)
Most of us address one or two of these issues fairly well on a regular basis. However, it can be a challenge to manage all of them consistently. Do your best and keep trying. Experiment and find what works best for you.
I hope this has been helpful for you. You may discover another article that will go further into these topics into a later date. For now - remember to try your best to view yourself as an integrated being and address all four levels on a regular basis.
(c) 2020 Katherine Farnham