Posted: Aug 12, 2019
**Guest post written by Electra (The Rock-n-Roll Health Chick), an Integrative Health and Nutrition Consultant and Coach, specializing in the health of musicians.
"WE MEET AGAIN! I hope your past week went well and was productive. With all the horrible local, national, world events and news since about 2017, it’s really hard for me to put on a happy face and keep plugging along. It’s gotten a lot worse lately. Sometimes I get overwhelmed and shut down. Who has time for that?! That doesn’t work well in my world and probably not in yours. In the last month I built two websites, wrote four magazine articles, broadcast a few live concerts on ElectraLand Radio, conducted four Rockin’ Your Health Radio interviews and provided weekly in-home care for two clients. And that’s a slow month! So here I am, fighting the battle. I’m doing my best to keep going and to feel good in the process. That’s all I ask of you.
Did you get a chance to try some of the healthier foods I suggested? I know a week goes super fast, and you probably do well just to keep up with what you already have on your plate. I totally get it, trust me! But, unless you make it a priority and jump in, it won’t happen!
Adding new tasks can seem like just way too much to handle. I wouldn’t push if it weren’t REALLY important for your health, energy and outlook on life. I promise that with every healthier choice you make, you’ll be improving the body and mind.
Speaking of mind, we absolutely cannot talk about better health without addressing mental health! I discovered I was deficient in some key mood regulating nutrients. When I got those in order, it was easier to deal with life and how I felt.
Even if you could have a healthy body, but feel like shit in your head, who would want that?! Turns out, our mental health totally affects our physical health, so we have to work on both. Sometimes we are anxious and depressed just from a bad diet and an imbalance of hormones, vitamins and minerals. Balancing these is an easier fix than when our life situation is the cause, which can also cause our hormones, vitamins and minerals to get out of whack. Our system is delicately balanced, and the causes of mental and physical illness can be a vicious cycle. I practice integrative health to actually find and address the root causes of illness, not just cover them up with pills. It’s easy to get anti-depressants, but these often make our mental and physical health worse.
Bad mental health robs us of enjoying our lives or caring about what we’re eating and drinking. Bad mental health can also cause disease and makes us feel worse all over. So, I’d really like you to work on all of the health tips I mentioned, including this one! After all, your mind runs the whole show!
I care about you, and I know how it feels to struggle with mood issues! I have a whole range of reasons for anxiety and depression. Having kids added to my worries tenfold. I’ve learned that we artists have a strong propensity for mental health struggles. We tend to be sensitive, empathic, aware, open and not very interested in or able to “conform.” We’re just wired differently, thank goodness! All of that makes it harder for us to fit into societal norms, expectations and all those other bullshit boxes.
We seem to pay more attention and care more than others about what’s going on around us and in the world. When our world, or the one outside, is going to hell, we can absorb that and feel like crap. We are very often the first ones to step up and speak out against injustice. Dealing with all these feelings can be overwhelming. We have to figure out how to accept ourselves for who we are, deal with the overload and find ways to release the feels. That’s why we make art! We’re the ones who make the world beautiful! Yay, US!
Navigating situational stresses is a lifelong journey that get’s so old. We need to find ways to cope. I highly recommend counseling if you have access. Keep trying therapies and therapists until you find what works for you. There are so many to choose from. If you don’t have access or funds for counseling, you can try a support group. Those can be cheaper and often free. If you’re traveling a lot, there may be a national group with local chapters you can hit from town to town. There are a lot of free online resources as well. Maybe you have a good friend to talk to. We ALL have to get our feelings and the toxic shit out!
Meditation, breathing exercises, imagery, yoga, tai chi and, of course, listening to calming music are all ways to relax and process the world inside and out. Look for some sort of self therapy you can do whenever you are feeling overwhelmed. It’s also important to incorporate these things into your daily life, even if you’re feeling good. You’ll be happier, better focused, calmer and more prepared to process life.
Proper hydration and diet are critical for mental health. That’s why they are #1 and #2 on my list. We usually need to supplement our diets with certain vitamins and minerals. B vitamins, C, D3 with K2, omegas, probiotics and magnesium are especially critical for good mental health. Deficiencies in these actually can cause anxiety and depression.
Scientists have recently learned that the gut, not the brain, is responsible for almost our entire mood. When our gut health is bad, our mental health can be as well. Our gut health is affected by the quality of the food that we eat, alcohol consumption, an overgrowth of bad gut bacteria, not enough of the good ones, deficiencies in key vitamins and minerals, exposure to chemicals and toxins, stress, lack of fiber, lack of sleep, poor bowel habits and more.
We especially need to stay away from GMO foods. They are sprayed with glyphosate during growth, and some are even sprayed after harvest. This chemical wreaks havoc on our bodies, in our guts and wipes out our good bacteria. You can learn about GMO crops here. Don’t forget organics are always the best choice.
If our guts don’t have the proper balance of bacteria and aren’t working properly, we don’t digest our food properly. Our food and nutrients are actually messages for our bodies. They have to be in certain forms to be deciphered. If we don’t digest properly, not only will we not be properly nourished, but we might develop food allergies. This is because the food is not in the right form and doesn’t send the right message when it reaches our guts. Our bodies attack, because they see the undigested food as an invader. Over time, our bodies will automatically fight each time we eat that food.
Chewing properly, not drinking too much liquid with our meals, eating the right foods, supplementing key nutrients, avoiding toxins and using a good-quality probiotic will help eliminate these issues and keep us from getting them in the first place. Bad digestion and toxic chemicals cause us not to get the nutrients we need from our food. Of course, that hurts our mental and physical health. It also causes us to have things like leaky gut, gastritis, IBS, Crohn's disease, Hashimoto's, celiac and more.
If you have access to a blood test, get at least your B, D, C, Omegas, probiotics and magnesium levels checked! Basic blood tests don’t generally give you the in-depth information that can really determine what’s going on. But, if a basic test is all you can get, it’s better than nothing. If you have access to healthcare, find an integrative-, holistic- or functional-medicine doctor! They are the ones who understand how the WHOLE body works and how what we put in and on it affects our health. They can also order more complete tests. These healers can help you determine where you are and how to get where you need to be in your health journey.
I take the above-mentioned supplements even when I can’t get checked. Most non-integrative, non-functional or non-holistic doctors don’t have a clue about how important these are or how much we need. I usually do, but can always check Dr. Mark Hyman’s recommendations if I have a question. I agree with him on almost everything, but it’s always best to consult with your doctor. You can also contact me at [email protected] or [email protected] with questions.
You and I know life on the road is tough! You are away from loved ones, sitting in a vehicle a lot of the time and grabbing whatever quick food you can find. You’re probably not sleeping enough. It’s common to worry about paying your bills, trying not to get ripped off, keeping your vehicle running and not getting your gear stolen. There is a ton of STRESS! You may be drinking alcohol and smoking to help escape, but these make your physical and mental chemistry worse in the long run.
At least if you’re traveling with others that you like, you have good company. Social media doesn’t count as a real interaction and can actually increase our anxiety and depression. Many are addicted to their screen time. This addiction, like any others, can affect us negatively.
Humans are social creatures. We need real connections with others. This is tough on the road. Sure, there are people all around, but how deep of a connection can you make with someone you meet at a show? If you’ve left loved ones at home, you probably miss them. I’m curious how many songs have been written about life on the road and missing someone. It’s a BUNCH!
Scheduling calls or video chats with those you want to stay in touch with can help fill the void. People do get busy, but if you explain your needs, hopefully they’ll schedule with you. It’s too easy to let this slide. Plan it, or it won’t happen!
If you don’t have anyone at home, try to be as connected to those you meet as you can. I watched one of our musicians doing this at the meet-and-greet after his band’s show. He seemed to thrive on this interaction, or maybe he was just amped up, but he seemed genuine. You might be surprised how many people are actually looking for deeper conversations and connections, not just the shallow groupie approach. Try it out!
Try to get a decent amount of sleep. I know that’s almost ridiculous to say. But, if you can stick to some semblance of a routine, that would really make a big difference in your mental and physical health. You will also be safer while you’re driving around night after night. Take naps if you can’t get at least six or preferably seven hours of sleep a night.
Finances are always a huge stressor! Try to put away as much money as you can! I like the Dave Ramsey approach to financial planning. I like his envelope system, but make sure your money is locked up somewhere safe! You may want to use a bank instead, but keep up with the amounts in a little notebook or elsewhere. In the envelope system, you make a section for each item/area that you need to spend money on and write the amount of that need on the outside. I have used an envelope-sized, plastic, accordion file. Start with the bare necessities like food, gas, gear, etc. Party funds should NOT be included here, but some greenage for your-self-therapy greenage may apply elsewhere.
Label each section with each priority. Each time you make some money, put some in each of the critical-need pockets. First, put money in your number-one-need category. I think this should be food. Then follow with deposits in the other categories in the order of their importance. A contingency fund is also really important! Think car repairs. If you have extra money, you’re ahead of the game and can create a pocket for your future. This can be for a house, a car, a recording studio. This would be choice AF.
Try not to rob from one category for the other. If you have the cash, it will help save you from the temptation of borrowing, using credit and owing with interest. It’s also harder to part with cash than to swipe a card. This will help you see exactly where your money is going and how much you need. It will make it harder to blow, since you’ll actually see it leaving your pile. This can make you feel empowered. Seeing it accumulate shows you that you are creating some security. Let me reiterate, keep your money somewhere safe!
Write down every last penny you spend for at least a week! A month is better. You may be shocked at some of the waste you’ll see. When I did this, our fish tank ended up being our biggest expense! WTH?! I couldn’t keep the fish alive anyway, so we opted out once they were all gone. Seeing it on paper can help relieve some stress by showing a clearer picture of potential waste.
Exercise is paramount. We talked about exercise to disperse fluids for proper hydration, but your muscles, bones and mind need it too. Loading gear in and out isn’t enough. Aerobic exercise, impact/weight resistance, range of motion and stretching are key. One of our bands does yoga before their gigs, and it shows! They seem happy, and you should see the legs on these ladies. Yoga is for anyone! There are more- and less- strenuous forms. Tai chi is also very good. Add a brisk walk or jog, some weight or equipment lifting, and you’re good to go.
Is any of this easy? Are any changes? No, but are they worth it? Absolutely! I want you to be around to make your wonderful contribution to the music universe for as long as possible and be happy doing so. Stick with me, and I’ll help you ROCK THE WORLD! Check me out HERE for more help with mental and physical health. If you want to hear some great Indie tunes while you’re hittin’ the road, check out ElectraLandRadio.net.
Until then, take care and ROCK ON!"
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