I used to love baking.
One thing that fascinated me about baking is the chemistry of it. You have all these ingredients that you have to put together in a certain order in specific quantities to get the final baked deliciousness.
One of the hallmarks of a good baker is getting a perfect meringue. Light and airy, crispy on the outside with just a bit of chew on the inside.
But there are so many things that can go wrong along the way.
No fat can touch them, so that means that you can’t have a speck of yolk in the egg whites. No oil residue in the bowl or on the beaters. Otherwise the egg whites won’t beat up properly.
Then the beating itself - you have to add the sugar just so, so they don’t end up grainy, and get the whites to form perfect peaks. Beat too long and they start disintegrating again.
Then the preparation of the sheets for baking - it has to be parchment paper. Oven temp and baking time. They ALL matter.
The point of all this is that, like with getting the perfect meringue, looking after your voices so that you have a well-balanced instrument has a lot of components to it, too.
And like the meringue a lot of things can go wrong along the way. These are the stressors in our lives.
Often when we think about stress we think about the emotional overwhelm that we feel from situations, but there are actually many other stressors that you may not be aware of and may not be causing an obvious fight or flight response.
Accumulated stress can cause the throat to constrict and prevent you from being able to fully and freely express yourself through singing, so it’s important to stay on top of it.
There are four main categories of stress.
Psychological, psycho-social and psycho-spiritual stress are clearly in the realm of the mind and the first thing most people think of when you mention stress.
The mind and body are often thought of as separate and because of that physical stressors are often overlooked in how they impact the mind and voice. When talking about stress it is more usual to talk about the impact stress has on the body than the other way around.
However, a preliminary study showed that physical and psychosocial stressors interact to increase stress in ways not explainable by the stressors alone. And over time these acute stressors can accumulate to cause chronic stress, more tension, illness and vocal issues.
Increasing your capacity for a reliable voice
That’s why looking after physical health is so important to able to cope with stress and sing with a reliable resilient voice.
The stronger and healthier your body is, the greater your capacity to deal with the stress of a busy singer’s life. And let’s face it, the past year with the pandemic has been a very stressful one.
Are you looking after your physical health to improve your stress resilience for freer, more confident singing? If you’d like to explore a holistic approach that includes work on body, mind and voice then download my free e-guide Top Tips to Release Tension and Lift Energy for Singers.
The past year has packed a wallop. So many things happened, so many goals and dreams set aside. 2021 is starting as a year of hope with new vaccines already starting to make the rounds.
Things won’t be back to normal for a while yet, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dream, make some goals, plan them out and start acting on them.
Do you make new year's resolutions?
I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions myself. When I feel my life is in need of a change I start then and there. Lots of my long term goals and dreams didn’t start in January.
There are always new things about myself I would like to work on - MY HEALTH, RELATIONSHIPS, BUSINESS – if I waited for all of it to start January 1 I would have missed opportunities and it would have been far too intimidating to tackle it at all.
OUR IDEAS OR NEED FOR CHANGE DON’T SPARK SPONTANEOUSLY ON A GIVEN DATE.
That being said there are always cycles in the year that can make it feel like a fresh start - a new week, a new month and yes, a new year. Many people look to the New Year for a fresh start (and despite what I said there is one new habit I would like to develop starting January 1, which I’ll tell you about later).
The New Year makes for a fresh new chapter in our lives. Unfortunately, it’s often a fairy tale chapter of all the wonderful things our life will be with the changes we will make. And that fairy tale bubble usually bursts by Valentine’s Day.
The most commonly broken resolutions are:
So how can you make your resolutions stick - no matter when you decide you will start?
Don’t overdo it.
Choose only one to three resolutions to start with. Tackling too many resolutions is certainly going to lead to failure. If being less stressed was one of them you are actually going to set yourself up for more stress.
And here the important thing - all three resolutions don’t have to start at the same time! Staggering them out through the year will make it more manageable.
Decide on your WHY.
Why is it important to change that? Is it simply that it would be nice to do or is there a real need that deeply affects the quality of your life? For example, you want to drink less. Is it because you spend too many Sundays with a hangover or is it because your relationships, your work or your health are on the line because of your drinking? The latter is surely a more compelling WHY, which will more likely make you stick with it.
Set realistic goals.
If you want to buy a new house, but are racked with debt, now is not the time to start looking. Likewise, don’t expect to lose 50 pounds in two months (by the way, healthy weight loss is 1-2 lbs/week, so 15 lbs in two months is more realistic).
Set specific goals.
Specific in time frame to complete, specific in quantity, specific in actions to take. Remember these should all be realistic. For example you want to save $2000 for a new sound system by March - it is specific, but is it realistic? Can you save $2000 in three months? Make it more realistic – Save $2000 for that equipment by next December. You have 50 weeks to save! So open a special bank account and put in $40 each week.
Make it enjoyable.
Want to exercise more? Don’t get lured into the gyms unless you know they have something you would enjoy doing. If you like the idea of lifting weights, fine. But that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Maybe a group class, but which one? A Zumba class might be more fun. It feels less like exercise and more of a party and that may be the thing you need to keep you moving. Volunteering? Serving at a soup kitchen, though very noble, may not be for you. As a singer, perhaps you can sing at shelters or nursing homes instead. Don’t underestimate the gift of your music - after all Joyce DiDonato singing in prisons.
Get an accountability partner.
You are more likely to stick with it if you have someone to be accountable to. This could be a friend or family member. It can be someone that will join you in making those changes in their own lives or just someone with whom you’ve shared your goal. You can join an online accountability group, like The Fit Singer Community, where there will be other like minded people with whom you can share your journey. It can be a trainer or wellness coach like me (I work with people online in accountability groups and one on one) or other professionals as required (example – financial planner).
Make an appointment with yourself.
Write it in your calendar. Exercise time. Meal planning time. Family time. Time for budgeting and going over accounts. If it’s scheduled you are more likely to do it.
Every month take a look at where you’re at with your goal. Is it moving forward? Do you need to tweak your action plan? Can you make further improvements on this goal? Is it time to start on the next resolution on your list?
Remember any resolution you make is making a new habit and it doesn’t happen magically. It will require work and dedication. Sometimes it requires the breaking of old bad habits, which is sometimes the greatest challenge. But it will be so worth it when you come to next New Year and can reflect on what you accomplished in the past 12 months.
If you need help with finding more vocal freedom, reducing your stress, tension in the body, vocal fatigue and low energy that may be keeping you from singing with vitality, artistic freedom and confidence then the free The Fit Singer Community would be a great place to start!
And what’s my resolution, for one who doesn’t usually make New Year’s resolutions? My resolution is to set aside more time for efficient planning and setting up systems so that I can show up more consistently in my business and personal life.
Happy New Year! May this year bring you renewed hope and all the blessings you deserve!!!
Hi, I'm Elizabeth! I'm your guide on your vocal journey. I work with singers - Voice Students of all ages, Singing Teachers and Choristers - basically anyone who LOVES to Sing and wants to free their voice.