Tips for Maintaining your Mental and Emotional Health During a Tour
**Guest post written by Corina Corina, NYC based Singer, Songwriter, Blogger.
"I have a love/hate relationship with touring. For all the incredible memories I have from years on the road, it was also stressful, exhausting and emotionally taxing. I've read hundreds of DIY music blogs about touring that emphasize the importance of self care but only begin to scratch the surface. We all know the value of proper nutrition and exercise but emotional health is rarely discussed in depth. After years of DIY touring, I have learned some very specific tricks on how to take care of myself in order to stay sane in the middle of insane circumstances. This begins with prioritizing and being protective of essential things such as rest, quiet time, connection and personal boundaries.
Our immune systems can easily become impaired when we’re not getting proper rest and in close quarters with the same people 24 hours a day. Although you’re constantly surrounded by people, it can be quite lonely at times. All these factors combined can be recipe for illness, fatigue, irritability, anxiety and depression.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m no saint. When I tour I drink a shit ton of coffee, consume more beer and tequila than the average person does in their lifetime and I even sneak off to have a little fun once in awhile. The point is not to take it all too seriously but to combat the craziness with a little peace so I can sustain this lifestyle.
Here are a few things I’ve learned in between downward facing dog and gas station coffee.
Quiet time: because nobody can be “on” all the time.
I'm an extrovert who loves meeting new people every night but I need a daily dose of “me time” beforehand. It’s up to you to decide how much alone time you’ll need and take it from there. Here’s where I fit mine in:
Somewhere between soundcheck and showtime there is inevitably going to be time to kill. Once I have everything set up with the venue, I usually step outside and take a walk around the block or find a private bathroom so I can get a few minutes alone before the night kicks off. With this time I warm up my voice, fix my makeup, say a little prayer and do a quick meditation. If you are a person who needs more alone time than that, take it! Chill in the car for a bit, take a long walk, or go have a drink alone at a neighboring bar or coffee shop.
Drives are another good place to have some quiet time to yourself. Take advantage of the long stretches of road to close your eyes or look out the window and be alone with your thoughts. This will provide some time to recharge, a little creative inspiration and space reflect on your experience. If you’re the driver, play some mellow music and just STFU for awhile. Think of this as putting some extra fuel in your energy tank. You’ll be glad you did it when you’ve hit hour six at the venue later that night.
Sleep is king!
Getting a good night’s sleep every night on tour is almost impossible but there are definitely some things you can do to improve your quality of rest. First and foremost, invest in a sleeping bag! Because you’ll usually be at the mercy of whoever is hosting you that night, you’ll rarely know what the accommodations are ahead of time. Having your own pillow, eye mask, ear plugs and whatever else you need will make you self sufficient and a lot more comfortable under any circumstances. If you’re traveling with a group and relying on people to put you up, don’t assume that they will always have enough pillows, blankets or even couches for everyone. Preparation is key!
If you’re a car sleeper, car naps are everything. I survive on them! To make your nap extra luxurious, sleeping bags and pillows can help create a comfy haven in the backseat of any car. If you can’t sleep in a moving vehicle, another way to sneak in a little disco nap is if your tour mates are doing an activity that doesn’t particularly interest you, it’s perfectly okay to excuse yourself for a 20 minute catnap in your parked car while they do their thing.
Party like a vet, not an amateur
Touring is fun. It’s a party every night, especially for your fans. Everyone in town is going to want to buy you drinks and smoke you out. This is all a part of the fun of the road but try to keep these things moderate and remember to drink plenty of water. Remember that you have to do it all over again tomorrow and the next night after that so keep that in mind. Imagine yourself waking up in the morning for another long drive and think about how you want to feel. This thought alone has kept me out of a lot of trouble over the years.
Your friends and hosts are probably going to want to stay up and hang out with you into the wee hours. If possible, try to do your catching up with them before the show or at the venue between sound check and your set. Be gracious after the show but try to retire at a reasonable time so you aren’t up all night. Your friends will understand and if they don’t, it just means they’ve never toured before.
Get some, but choose wisely
Another common temptation on the road is sex. You’ll have people trying to hook up with you a lot more than you may be used to. Talent is sexy and people will be naturally drawn to you. This of course is usually very flattering but it’s best to be a little discerning. Hooking up usually involves having to coordinate some extra logistics with your tour partners, potential residual drama and inevitably a lot less sleep. If you’re going to get yours, make sure the situation is safe and worthwhile. Get in a good shower first thing and set aside some car napping time the next day. Your tour partners will understand :)
On the plus side, hooking up on tour can be beneficial as well. Sex and intimacy are great stress relievers and can be really helpful for your your overall sanity. It can combat loneliness, boost confidence, give you a much needed break from your tour partners. Most importantly it can be a lot of fun! Let your partner for the night spoil you with a comfortable bed, a little massage and a good homemade breakfast. They know you’ve been working hard and you deserve it! You’ll reunite with your tour partners feeling like a million bucks.
Stay connected. The world is bigger than you and your tour outfit
Connection to your people back home is essential. While phone calls require a little extra effort, thank God for texting, dming, messaging and emailing! You might grow tired of your tourmates from being in such close proximity all the time and your conversations will tend to all revolve around the tour. Maintaining some outside connections will keep you grounded and provide a much-needed anchor. Let a few close, trusted friends know that you’ll need some extra support and ask them to check in on you from time to time. You’ll be grateful when they tell you about their work drama or the latest dating gossip. It will provide a welcomed distraction and much needed reminder that there’s a whole wide world outside of your tour.
Set aside some time every few days to make an actual phone call or skype date. Hearing your mom’s voice or seeing your best friend’s face will provide some comfort and connection and make you feel a lot less lonely.
There are a few easy indulgences that can make all the difference in your emotional and physical well-being. If you have some downtime and a few bucks try some of the following:
- Find a cheap massage place on yelp or search the city’s local groupon site for cheap massage deals.
- Get a pedicure (preferably somewhere with a massage chair).
- Attend a local yoga class, get lost in a record or bookstore, find some nature and go for a walk or take in some culture at a local museum.
- Try to stay in a hotel with a pool and a hot tub at least once a week. They aren’t too expensive in smaller cities, especially if you’re sharing a room. The beds will be more comfortable and you may even be able to do laundry. Bonus points if the place has a sauna and steam room. You will feel like a new human in no time!
Remember, touring should be fun but you still have a job to do. The whole point is to get on stage and kill it every night and have a good time doing it! Take care of yourself!"
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Vocalist Corina Corina was born to sing. She was raised in Oakland by political activists who named her after an early blues classic. Now with roots in New York and the Bay Area, Corina Corina brings a fresh and melodic vocal hybrid to modern soul with a sharp hip-hop edge or as she calls it, #emosoul.
She first cut her teeth in the New York independent music scene by collaborating with artists such as Homeboy Sandman (Stones Throw), Angi3 (Tommy Boy), and internationally-acclaimed producer, Willie Green (Backwoodz Studioz). She has shared stages with hip-hop heavyweights Talib Kweli, Action Bronson, Masta Ace and Mr. Muthafuckin eXquire. Corina Corina’s self-released solo albums, “The Eargasm” (2012), and “The Free Way” (2014) were co-produced with Green, and touch on everything from gender inequality to self-love and resisting social norms. The latter was promoted extensively through a series of independently booked national tours and a successfully funded indie-go go campaign. She’s also released three EPs, and has produced and curated over 100 live events and musical series all over the country. In 2015 she signed with the Deep Thinka booking agency to expand on her prolific touring.
Corina Corina has recently released "Run the Blues," an EP tribute to Run the Jewels and is putting the finishing touches on her third solo LP "Hangover Music" and is recently signed on the be represented by The Baseline Group. As a writer, she continues to spread her messages of self-love, recovery, LGBT issues, DIY touring, being a woman in music, personal growth and more. She is a regular contributor for popular lifestyle blogs such as Elephant Journal, G.O.A.T. Hip-Hop, Stop the Breaks and Recovery Warriors.