Special Viral Considerations for Singers
You’re getting a lot of viral advice right now.
But did you know that SINGERS need to take special considerations during viral outbreaks that other people don’t?
BEFORE YOU CANCEL an opportunity to sing, read the steps you need to take to measure your risk and boost your immunity.
SINGERS AND CONTANGONS
I’ve had the ‘opportunity’ to be traveling and performing during every major viral outbreak in my lifetime, so I get how scary it can be to be wondering just how ‘safe’ you are sometimes.
I’ve also had the ‘opportunity’ to have been a severely immuno-compromised person many times during my recoveries from nearly fatal septic shock.
(I actually wanted to make a video for you on this but…I’ve caught something weird that’s kept me in bed for days. No worries…it’s not Covid19.)
I have to say, I’m a lot more of a ‘germaphobe’ than I ever was before,
But all of that has given me the opportunity to ask medical specialist and medically certified holistic medical professionals the inside questions about how to keep my immune system as healthy as possible and still be able to do what I love…”get out there and…sing!”
And that’s what I’m going to share with you now.
THE 4 BIGGIES THAT MAKE SINGERS SICK
It’s not viruses.
It’s not even dirty hands (believe it or not).
And, chances are, you’re probably ignoring most, if not all four right now.
On the whole, singers are pretty good at doing the list of things you’re hearing about ten times a day now.
But there are FOUR we tend to forget about that really put our anatomy at RISK, even after all that ‘distancing’ and ‘hand-washing’.
This is the MOST ESSENTIAL body need that singers don’t think about.
Water is to the body what gas is to your car.
If you’re going to drive through a storm, one of the first things you check before you leave is if you have enough gas to make it.
SINGERS EXPELL EXTRA MOISTURE WITH EVERY NOTE
So take that ‘8 glasses a day’ guideline (which, by the way has been revised in recent years to up to 12), and consider your increased hydration needs for every rehearsal, run-through or performance you have coming up.
A HEALTHY SINGER SHOULD BE DRINKING CLOSER TO 15+ CUPS A DAY DURING ANY MONTH YOU’RE SINGING.
But it can take the body up to TWO WEEKS to get hydrated.
And with the exception of training athletes or people who heavily work out, the rest of us tend to be dehydrated all the time.
BUT TAKING THOSE FLU ‘PRECAUTIONS’ ARE ACTUALLY MAKING IT WORSE!
Consider how much moisture your skin loses every time you use an ALCOLHOL WIPE.
Add to that the fact that when we are feeling stressed our bodies need even MORE water to function properly.
Then add on the hydration needs of SINGING…
You get the picture.
THE best thing you can do starting right now is to drink water constantly.
TIP: *add a little lemon juice (which neutralizes once ingested) to help acid reflux and ‘throat gunk’.
These are stressful times.
But if you’re honest, you were probably stressed before you found out there was a pandemic, right?
So, now your body is SUPER stressed.
If you’re preparing to sing, you’ve got the natural added stress that comes with that.
In fact, singers rarely consider just how much stress their bodies are under just from memorizing, performing deadlines, nerves and the rest of the physical challenges singing brings.
DON’T IGNORE the compounding effect that each source of stress has on your immune system.
Lucky for you, SINGING has acutally been proven to reduce stress….so singing more when you don’t HAVE too is really a good thing!
3. Lack of self-care
If you weren’t thinking about your health before, you are now.
General self-care is the difference between singers who can handle touring and those who…can’t.
Misusing their vocal anatomy is the #1 reason their voice dies prematurely… but ignoring simple self-care WILL cause you to sound worse than you really are.
We have to ‘feed the machine’ if we expect it to work for us.
A BODY WITHOUT ENOUGH REST, NUTRITION & HYDRATION CANNOT POWER YOUR BEST SINGING VOICE
In order to sound it’s best, your voice and your body need:
- REST (more is always better)
- CALM (which singing for fun is proven to enhance)
- NUTRITION (now is a great time to revisit how you fuel your body)
Just like alcohol wipes dry the body’s outside (the epidermis) leaving it at risk for more damage and infection, alcohol on the inside of the body strips essential body systems of moisture; including the vocal anatomy.
If you’re currently under stress (&, if you’re watching the news, you are), and if you’re already naturally dehydrated (chances are high that you are). then adding ANY amount of alcohol right now is going to give your immune system an even harder mountain to climb.
As a rule, drinking alcohol within 24hrs of singing will keep your body (& your voice) from being able to do your best.
Plus, in times of increased stress, if your self-care is not at a maximum, any amount of alcohol puts your voice at increased risk for DAMAGE.
If I were even a casual singer and I planned to sing at all during this viral outbreak I would take all alcohol off the menu for the time being.
This is also my guideline for touring singers and heavy use voices (musical theater, upcoming concerts, worship singers).
SINGERS & THE VIRAL CYCLE
- Singing is safe during a virus as long as:
- You are healthy (no fever)
- You boost your immunity through vigilant self-care,
- You are informed about what to look out for & how to protect yourself
- Cleaning products marked by the FDA as ‘affective against flu’ have elements that have been known to interrupt a virus’ life cycle & keep it from replicating. They don’t actually kill it. Only use products recommended by your doctor or well-known medical institutions.
- Your best defense is a good offense:
- REST (listening to music is a great way to reduce stress by keeping your brain busy & is medically proven to
- CALM (singing is proven to release the ‘chill’ hormone)
- EXTRA HYDRATION (anything without caffeine or sodium counts but water is the best) AVOID SODIUM (even in nasal sprays unless used minimally)
- GOOD NUTRITION (soups are a great way to get in more fluids + essential nutrients)
- LISTEN TO YOUR VOICE:
- Voice cracking more? Suspect dehydration & lack of self-care
- Don’t feel like getting up to sing? Suspect anxiety and lack of rest (boost self-care)
- Voice unusually tired? Suspect lack of self-care.
- LISTEN TO YOUR BODY:
- Feel ‘germaphobic’? Suspect your anxiety AND your skin: don’t forget to moisturize every time you use alcohol wipes!
- Anxiety getting to you? SING! SINGING IS PROVEN TO RELEASE HORMONES THAT REDUCE ANXIETY
- Feeling unusually tired even though you’re healthy? Suspect STRESS and lack of self-care.
SING FOR YOUR HEALTH
Singing is a Health Booster
- Singing is an anti-anxiety drug: It releases oxytocin, the hormone responsible for relieving anxiety and depression
- Singing is a happy drug: It releases endorphins, the ‘feel good’ hormone
- Singing lowers stress: It releases cortisol, the hormone that lowers stress
- Singing boost immunity: it increases brain chemicals that help the body be more resilient
- Singing improves sleep: the combined physiological effects singing has on multiple body systems enables sleep to be more restful and more reparative to the body.
Singing to Others Helps Them Too
- It’s the oldest ‘tribe-connecting’ activity in history for a reason: we thrive on knowing we’re in this together
- It’s a great way to help others to literally feel better (see medical benefits above)
- You can help reduce other people’s stress & maybe even make them laugh (on purpose, right?)
Don’t stop singing!