Have you ever had that moment where there’s something you can’t get right? Whether it’s the rhythm, the words, or a particular note? You get super frustrated and no matter what you do you just can’t seem to get it?
And you walk away from your practice or a rehearsal feeling deflated and unmotivated? - yeah. we’ve all been there!
But here’s something that may come as a surprise to you, the more you get frustrated the less likely it’s going to work because your voice is deeply connected to your emotions.
Hi, I'm Rebecca! And I truly love everything about the art, science, and teaching of singing. If you're looking to build an effective and healthier singing technique so that you can sing with more ease and confidence, then you're in the right place! Here's a few other blog posts you might also like to read:
Singing and Mental Health: 2 Ways to Use Singing to Transform your Mental Health
And of course, grab a copy of my ultimate vocal health starter guide where I'll share how to create a vocal health routine and reset your voice in 14-days!
Speech and singing in humans is a happy coincidence. The primary biological function of your vocal cords is to prevent food from going into your lungs.
But before we evolved to be able to speak and sing, we would communicate the same way that animals communicate - through primal sounds. The six primal emotion are; happiness, sadness, fear, disgust, anger, and surprise.
Janice Chapman talks about this in more depth in her book, Singing and Teaching Singing: A Holistic Approach to Classical Voice.
So, when you feel angry because you can’t hit that note or get the rhythm right, it’s your primal emotion that’s causing physical and mental tension and preventing you from nailing it.
There’s two tips I can give you here:
The first is to learn to accept that sometimes today’s not the day. Don’t get yourself all worked up about it. Learn to let it go, move on, and come back and try again tomorrow.
The second is to take time to manage your mental and emotional health because singing and mental health go hand in hand. See last’s week’s article Singing and Mental Health: 2 Ways to Use Singing to Transform your Mental Health.
And if you’re anything like me from not so long ago, you’ll put off any kind of self-care because everything and anything else takes priority. Sound familiar?
So, with World Mental Health Day on Saturday 10 October 2020, it’s time to take a stand and make a change because just like the Loreal advert says: “You’re worth it!”
In this article, I want to share with you 5 simple ways you can boost your mental health each week. These will help kickstart your mental, emotional, and vocal wellbeing.
1 | DO PHYSICAL EXERCISE
According to The Mental Health Foundation, regular exercise is as important to our physical health as it is for our mental wellbeing. It’s also great for your voice.
The primary reason exercising is so good for our mental health is because when we exercise we release endorphins - the happy hormone- which boosts your mood.
I talked a little about how I incorporate exercise into my lifestyle in My Winter Vocal Health Routine post, and how to use aerobic exercise to increase your lung capacity for singing in my free guide Singer’s Guide to Vocal Health.
But to recap - I aim to include some form of exercise (running, pilates, yoga etc.) in my morning routine. I choose exercises that are going to help me physically, mentally, and vocally.
Typically this looks like a 30-minute to 1-hour dog walk followed by 30-45 minutes of exercise, 6-days per week.
Honestly, it doesn’t always work out as perfectly as that and I’m not too hard on myself if it doesn’t. But where possible, I try to be consistent.
If you don’t have time to exercise, think about ways you could marry it with another task. For example, could you run or walk to or from the school run or to work instead of driving?
You don’t have to sign up for a marathon or anything crazy. In my book - something is better than nothing!
2 | GET MORE SLEEP
Sleep is biologically necessary. Not getting enough sleep impacts our physical and mental wellbeing.
A while back I wrote an article about how to get a better night’s sleep. If you're struggling to maintain a sleep routine check out my how to sleep better article.
But what I've found is key for a good night’s sleep, is setting yourself a wind-down or evening routine. For me this usually looks like:
A 5-minute brain dump before I walk away from my desk or studio after teaching. I just get everything that’s whirling around in my head out and onto paper. I’ll organise it in the morning when I have a clear head and fresh eyes.
I spend a few minutes writing 1-3 gratitudes for the day - for good karma.
I then reset my kitchen and living room so that it’s clean and tidy for the morning.
If I’m out the next day, I like to pack my bag and have everything ready the night before - an old habit from my school days.
I prefer reading to television. I usually grab a cup of (decaf) tea, snuggle in bed and read. I usually start off within something about singing, teaching singing, or business and then move to something lighter.
By 10 pm it’s lights out and everyone (and when I say everyone I mean the dog and cat) goes to bed. I’ll then spend a bit of time, whilst it’s quiet and there are no distractions doing some meditation before actually going to sleep.
This is just an example of what I do. You gotta find what works best for you and your family. It may take some trial and error and remember to be realistic. Don’t give yourself too many tasks that you’re rushing about trying to get stuff done when you should be relaxing.
Less is more.
3 | PRACTICE MINDFULNESS
Mindfulness has so many physical and mental benefits. At the end of the day, it's a great way to slow your brain, de-stress, release tension, and prepare you for sleep.
There are lots of different ways you can practice mindfulness. Take a look at my post Beginners Guide to Meditation to get a flavour for the different types of practices and to find one that interests you.
I try to practice every day and I’m quite happy (for the moment) using guided meditation apps but places like the Northern Centre for Mindfulness and Compassion run regular, reasonably priced, courses if you feel you need more assistance.
The goal with mindfulness is not to stop thinking but acknowledging your thoughts, being present in the moment, and training your brain to focus. It takes some practice.
4 | MANAGE AND REDUCE STRESS
Easier said than done, right?
We live in quite a chaotic and stressful time and one of the ways I like to minimise the stress in my life is to have routines. With routines, I get stuff done with minimal organisation and stress.
Including the routines you already know about, I also have a cleaning and meal planning/prepping routines. Here’s how these work for me.
Like you, I like a clean house BUT I’m not going to spend hours trying to keep on top of it all.
When it comes to cleaning my house, I like the little and often approach. So, on certain weekdays I do the cleaning tasks that need doing weekly. Like, Mondays I'll clean the bedrooms, Wednesdays I'll clean the bathroom, and Saturdays I’ll wash and change the bedding, for example.
These habits are so ingrained that I no longer think about them, I just do them automatically.
For recurring personal and household tasks, I use an organisation tool like Asana. I check this weekly and slot any recurring tasks that need doing to my paper daily planner. Once completed I update Asana.
When it comes to meal planning I've adopted the Emily Ley approach. I first came across this idea when reading her book, A Simplified Life and already love it!
Now I have 4-weeks of meals planned (and can rotate to save time). I’ve also switched to online home delivery shopping to make things a little easier. I already have less food wastage and I cannot tell you how much money, stress and time this has saved me.
5 | SCHEDULE TIME FOR SELF-CARE
We all need to learn to be a little kinder to ourselves. That's why I try to include a little self-care as part of my Sunday routine.
To ensure that I actually do some self-care, what I’ve found works best for me is to keep a list of different things I like to do, including movie night, taking a bath, mini home-spa treatments like facials, manicures and pedicures, and reading etc. I also have a Pinterest board full of ideas to try out.
Each week, I try to take a couple of hours for self-care. I’ll turn off my phone, disconnect from social media and I’ll choose one or two items from my self-care list.
Like you, I still struggle with feelings of guilt when I set this time aside for myself and I’m always looking for ways to improve my self-care routine.
But no matter how busy you are, try to schedule a few hours a week to do something for your own wellbeing. Your mental health and voice will thank you for it.
It’s so easy to get caught up in a busy schedule and a busy family life BUT it’s important to remember that you are important and deserve a little self-care.
It’s like Arthur Ciaramicoli said:
“Self-care is never selfish, but it may feel that way when you live a frenzied life”.
So, if there’s something from this list that's screaming at you because you know you need to do more of it but you’re just not getting around to - just do it!
Spend 10-15 minutes thinking about what you want, what you can do to improve it, and what steps do you need to take to make it happen. And then set the wheels in motion. I know you’ve got this!
Let me know in the comments below if this has made a difference to your lifestyle, mental health, and/or your voice - I’d love to know!
And don't forget to grab your freebie:
The Ultimate Vocal Health Guide
- a 14-day plan to help you improve your voice!
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