1. Getting enough sleep - Although the amount of sleep a person needs varies from person to person - studies have shown that getting 7-9 hours of quality sleep is vital to our brain function while also reducing stress and keeping our immune system healthy. If you are unsure if you are getting good quality sleep, check out this free resource -https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/5-signs-your-sleep-quality-poor-and-how-fix-it
2. Hydration - Be on top of your daily water consumption and become aware of the signs of dehydration. If we are dehydrated when we go to sleep, our brain cannot fully process and reboot from the day as effectively as possible and our body cannot recover as efficiently. How does this related to being a musician? If you are a brass player and are “chopped out” at the end of a long day of playing and you are also dehydrated, your blood flow will not be as efficient and therefore it will take you longer for your lip swelling or fatigue to diminish. For more information on dehydration, check out this article from a reputable source: Precision Nutrition - https://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-dehydration
3. Regular exercise - The benefits of regular exercise have been studied with great intensity over the past 100 years. Mentally, exercise has been shown to reduce anxiety, improve memory, and boost creativity. Physically - exercise can have an anti-aging affect, can increase your energy levels, improve joint, muscle, and bone health, promote better sleep, and increase your libido. With the intense career path we have chosen, it can be very beneficial to have hobbies outside of music (such as regular exercise) in order to give our brain a chance to reflect and recover on a subconscious level. But for musicians, one of the most important aspects to take away from regular exercise is that it can help in the prevention of performance related injuries.
4. Nutrition -Though often neglected, nutrition can greatly affect our quality of life. What we put into our bodies has a direct correlation with how we feel and ultimately, how we perform. For example, if you are a brass player, it might be a good idea to avoid dairy and salty foods before practice sessions or performances, as they will have a direct impact on how your lips “respond” or feel. It also might be a good idea to avoid fast food before practicing - as most fast food have high levels of salt, fat, and sugar - which can cause you to feel mentally slow, drained, or unfocused. Rather, we should strive to stick to whole foods - foods that are minimally processed and foods that can raise our body and brain energy levels.
Fantastic brain foods include, nuts, berries, or any other kind of fruit. If you can find a protein bar that doesn’t have more than 6 or 7 grams of sugar, that could be a winner too. All in all - to keep it simple - becoming aware of what you eat and how it makes you feel is a vital step in taking control of your nutrition in your life. For the next week or two, take note on how you feel after you eat particular foods. If you find you get a headache every time you have a Diet Coke, maybe it would a good idea to reconsider if that Diet Coke is serving your purpose of your needs. For more on nutrition advice - check out www.PrecisionNutrition.com - they are constantly doing studies and have a blog full of fantastic, scientific based content.