“I have to take care of myself. It’s about self-preservation.” Danielle de Niese
This month we are exploring ways to take of ourselves during the most intense and busy time of the year for our profession. Getting enough rest, eating regular meals and taking a vacation for your mind are simple ways to take care of yourself without too much hassle. I have found things only work for me if I have time and if they make sense to me. Nothing grand or complicated, I hope to share some techniques for self-care in these three general areas that have worked for me and some of my colleagues.
Getting enough rest
When we are under stress, we often forget about taking care of ourselves. Rest is essential to health and not always easy to get enough of at this time of year.
In the last five years or so, I have been making time for a thirty minute “power nap” before every rehearsal. My rehearsals are in the early evening, so I’ve been having dinner with my family thirty minutes earlier, and other than eating early that day of the week, there has been no downside. That leaves me time for a quick nap; I take off my shoes, lie down on my bed and close my eyes. Then it’s time to go; I feel better and am more focused immediately.
Jacob*makes sure he gets to bed every night at the same time, no matter what. There have been times when he has the urge to do some work or to practice and occasionally, he does, but not more than one or two days in a row. He knows how much sleep he needs and tries to stick with what he knows works for him. When December concerts are fast approaching, Jacob still tries to maintain what he knows is best for him. If he does need to rehearse late or has to take care of some detail, he is able to because he isn’t exhausted or frazzled. Instead of less time, he has more time because he is well-rested.
The busier we are, the more we have to be conscious of what–and how often–we eat. We may skip meals or eat junk, then feel awful after. But time is at a premium and eating properly, and regularly, gets difficult as we head toward our concerts.
After living on fast foods during the months of November and December for several years and feeling awful, Terry* decided to think ahead for those busy times. Terry now spends the month of September making double batches of favorite dishes when making dinner. He freezes them, and in November and December, takes one out the night before he knows he has a day he won’t have time to cook. If he forgets, he makes sure to have plenty of fresh and healthy options in his frig to make sandwiches. This will be the third year of his strategy and Terry is looking forward to all the homemade meals already prepared in his freezer!
Doris* does what she calls “grazing” to make sure she gets enough to eat as she is deep in rehearsals. She eats a hearty breakfast, may need to skip lunch or dinner, but always has water or fruit juice or a piece of fruit in her bag. She’ll have a piece of fresh fruit or veggie sticks or a sandwich in her bag too. She brings herbal tea bags and her favorite travel mug with her everywhere and might have crackers but no cookies in her bag as well. Doris knows how much she needs to eat every day—calories-wise—and tries to have different healthy options with her at all times. It’s made a difference when things gets hectic and she feels better than she ever has.
A Vacation for Your Mind
Boris* reads mystery novels and I read decorating magazines. Jonathon* watches Ti-Vo-ed basketball and hockey games when he has time. Deb* knits and Tanya* does crossword puzzles. Sasha* plays with his kids. Alana* takes yoga. To recharge, we have all found our minds need to relax first so we do something enjoyable and completely different. The time we take during this most busy of times to reboot ourselves is well worth it in the long run.
Plan how you will take care of yourself as we go full speed ahead toward our concerts, lesson and carols and religious services. You’ll feel better!