When you’re getting paid to travel the country (or the world!) to play music, you might think the “rockstar” lifestyle is the way to go. But even the most successful professional musicians are quick to say how important it is to stay healthy on tour. Ultimately, performing every night is the easy part. Getting enough rest, sustaining your energy, and staying healthy while you’re cramped inside a tour bus on long drives is harder.
Even if you want to stay healthy on the road, it isn’t always easy. Late nights on a bus can mean things like fast food stops, staying up late, and a lot of noise all the time. Obviously, those things aren’t conducive to getting enough rest and taking care of yourself.
The healthier you are, the better your shows will be and the more energy you’ll have. You also won’t burn out so quickly from the tour itself, meaning you’ll be able to do it again quickly. So, what can you do to sustain your energy while you’re touring and remain healthy while doing it?
One of the biggest mistakes touring musicians make is beating up their bodies while they’re on the road. It’s easy to swing through a fast food stop at 2 a.m. or load up on energy drinks or coffee simply to stay awake.
Unfortunately, if you don’t watch your diet while traveling, it could lead to several potential issues. Most fast food, as well as convenience snacks like potato chips, pre-packaged snack cakes, etc., contain a lot of sodium and preservatives. This could lead to things like high blood pressure, and if you’re not getting enough movement, they could contribute to obesity. Junk food and sleep loss also go hand-in-hand. If you aren’t sleeping, you’re bound to eat more, and if you’re eating more junk, you’re less likely to get enough sleep.
Thankfully, it’s not impossible to eat healthy and take care of your body on tour. Plan your meals ahead, and keep healthy snacks with you (lean protein like nuts, trail mix, etc.) when you get hungry. Try to develop some type of meal schedule instead of eating at random times, and make sure to have a healthy, hearty breakfast each day to keep you from grazing on junk food.
While coffee can be a musician’s best friend, don’t go overboard. Yes, coffee has some health benefits and is fine in moderation. But, too much of it can make you jittery or shaky. Drinking it at night can make it harder to fall asleep, so you won’t get the rest you need. Try to cut back on your coffee habit by switching out a few cups with tea. Tea still has some caffeine, but not as much as its coffee bean counterpart. Some teas, including chamomile, are caffeine free and can actually be used to help people relax so they can get to sleep.
Rest is Best for Rockstars
The best way to sustain your energy is to get enough sleep. Your body needs enough rest each day in order to repair itself from the inside out. Your metabolism slows down when you sleep, allowing your body to conserve energy, so you can use it all throughout the next day. Adults need anywhere from seven to nine hours of restful sleep each night — so if you’re not getting that, it’s time to look at your sleep habits and how you can change them!
Try to develop a schedule for yourself so you can go to sleep around the same time each night. Developing a “sleep routine” can make it easier to get into the mindset of resting. If your tour bus or van is noisy, invest in some quality headphones or earbuds, and put them in with some soothing music or white noise that can help to lull you to sleep.
Getting several solid hours of sleep is the best way to go. But, if that isn’t possible, naps can help to boost your energy, too. Even a 20-30 minute nap can help to improve your mood and increase your alertness.
Avoiding the Stereotypes
While being on tour is supposed to be exciting and fun, it’s all too easy to fall into some of the stereotypes and pitfalls associated with the musician lifestyle. Whether you’re going to a lot of parties and celebrations, or you’re just looking for ways to sustain your energy and feel better, it’s not uncommon for artists on the road to turn to things like drugs and alcohol to get through it.
Unfortunately, neither are safe ways to keep up your energy. In fact, they can create a lot of potential health problems.
Alcohol is considered a depressant, meaning it slows down your body’s brain function. While you might feel like you have more energy while drinking your first glass or two, it doesn’t take long for your body to start slowing down. That leads to impairment, slurred speech, and even trouble comprehending what you’re saying or hearing. Alcohol can have lasting effects, too, including high blood pressure and liver damage.
It might be tempting at times to try “uppers” in order to keep your energy up on the road. Drugs like Adderall are commonly used and abused for this reason. But, Adderall and other drugs like opioids are extremely addictive. Most addicts start out by abusing prescription drugs, before eventually seeking out harder substances. If you truly need a prescription for some type of medication, talk to your doctor about the best plan for using it. But, be aware that many prescriptions can lead to dependency.
Instead of living your life on the road like a stereotypical rockstar, look for healthier, alternative ways to treat your body well and to sustain energy. Exercise is a great way to feel better and give yourself a boost. It can also improve your mood and creativity while adding years to your life (imagine all the extra gigs you can get from that!).
As fun as a tour can be, it can also often be chaotic, with random sleep schedules, junk food, and people around you with unhealthy habits. If you want to be a great musician, it starts with taking care of yourself. Follow some of these suggestions to make your next touring experience a healthier one, and you’ll be surprised at how much energy you can actually have while on the road.