Performing is an extremely strenuous pastime, both physically and emotionally. Acting, singing, dancing, stage combat (often all at the same time!) can take its toll on you. No matter whether you are a professional performer or part of a community theatre production, it’s crucial that all performers take good care of themselves in order to keep themselves in peak condition, so they can continue to perform!
Read on for some (should be obvious) tips for self-care for performers.
1. Get enough rest, especially during tech week and performances.
Performing day after day gets exhausting, especially on double-show days. Be sure to treat your body well and get adequate rest. That may mean going to bed earlier than usual, or taking a nap instead of going out for lunch in between shows.
2. Take care of your voice.
Avoid screaming and shrieking (this may not be the best time to go to a One Direction concert or the Superbowl and scream your voice raw), and even clearing your throat, which causes strain. If your musical director or vocal coach puts you on vocal rest, then you better not be talking! If you feel yourself starting to get sick, start drinking tons of water to flush out your system, and hot tea with honey will soothe your throat. I’ve also heard slippery elm or oil of oregano works well, but be sure to speak to a doctor before taking any products!
Avoid dairy products (coats your throat), soda (makes you gassy) and even juices (full of sugar, and can stain costumes if you’re drinking in costume). Even throat lozenges like Fishermen’s Friend or Halls aren’t good for you when you’re performing, because they have alcohol in them, which dries up your throat even more.
3. Make smart choices when it comes to your non-theatre life.
The rehearsal period/performance dates may not be the best time to take up BMX, snowboarding, or any other extreme sports. Your director will not be happy if you show up to rehearsal with a broken leg! (Don’t say it won’t happen — it’s happened at OKTC more than once!)
4. Don’t spread your germs around.
Especially with colder weather upon us and people more likely to get sick. Please don’t share drinks or food with your cast mates; wash your hands frequently and use hand sanitizer; and for goodness sake, if you’re sick and contagious, call your director and stay home! (That’s for rehearsals only — if you’re sick on a show day, you better get your butt to the theatre unless you’re on your death bed!)
5. Listen to your body.
If you are on the verge of losing your voice, tell your musical director but don’t push your voice. If you need to rest, then rest. Avoid foods that cause you upset stomachs before a performance. Drink lots of water, and then drink some more water. Know the difference between working hard and pushing through when you’re just feeling “meh” and when you truly need to back off.
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