April is Self-Care Awareness Month at MusicTherapyEd.com!
We have been showering ourselves with self-care this month but we wanted to hear how you’re doing, so we’ve created a SELF-CARE CONTEST where YOU can shout out your favorite self-care strategies to the Music Therapy Ed community! More details at the conclusion of this post.
The past few years, I have always tried to put physical wellness as a priority for myself, more specifically, staying active. When I am physically active, the benefits seem to seep into all aspects of my life, enhancing both my personal life and professional life.
There are many practices to enhance physical wellness, but today, we are going to focus on 3 areas to improve physical wellness.
In general, it is recommended to receive 2.5-5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise (walking, swimming, biking, etc.) and 2-3 days of strength training (20-30 minutes per session) each week. If that seems daunting, start small. Go for a walk (bring a friend or family member, and you’ll feel the benefits of social wellness as well!). Use the stairs instead of the elevator. Find little things you can do each day to get a little more physical exercise than usual.
The physical benefits of feeling great and looking great can lead to other benefits, such as higher self-esteem, confidence, and determination in all aspects of your life. More confidence in general means more confidence during sessions and more confidence in marketing your services.
2. Eat Healthy
There are a lot of different philosophies and opinions on how people should be eating, different diets, what foods to avoid, and what foods you should be regularly eating. I believe it’s most important to think of eating healthy as a lifestyle. If you think of eating healthy as a lifestyle for yourself and not just a temporary diet, chances are, you will find the motivation to stick with it. I believe the most important thing is not to deprive yourself of the things you really enjoy, so as not to become bitter and toss eating healthy out the window. Reward your healthy lifestyle with whatever “treat” you love, whether it be sweets or salts, but MODERATION is key.
3. Drink Water
We have all heard it—drink more water! I used to be a heavy diet coke drinker. In general, I drank a lot of soda—Here in Minnesota, we say pop 🙂 But when it came down to it, I felt better when I simply drank water. Still, when I get the urge to taste that diet coke, I think of the stomach aches, as well as the not so great ingredients in it.
The body needs water to function, and many people are dehydrated without even realizing it. Up to approximately 60% of the human body is made up of water—no wonder why it is so important! I could go on and on about the benefits of drinking water—increased energy and focus, weight-loss, benefits for your skin and muscles…and that is only the beginning! With singing and using the voice as a significant component of our profession, music therapists especially need to stay hydrated with water to maintain and improve vocal health. Regularly drinking water will keep the vocal folds moist.
If you are a heavy soda drinker, start small. Trade out one soda, coffee, or sugary drink for a glass of water. The next week, try two. Gradually introduce more water into your lives. A bonus benefit: It will save you money—it’s free!!
Take out your Self-Care Map, and write down 3 simple steps you can do this week to enhance and improve your physical wellness.
The Music Therapy Ed Team has shared our best self-care tips this past month, but now it is YOUR turn to inspire other music therapists to be their best! In the comments section below, please share YOUR most powerful strategy for self care. Please submit your strategy by Friday, May 2.
Then, on May 6th, you will get a chance to vote for your favorite from the top strategies as selected by the Music Therapy Ed Team right here on MusicTherapyEd.com. The person whose strategy has the most votes will be declared the winner and will receive Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly! The winner will be announced on May 13th in the Tuesday Shout Out.
Be well, feel good, and keep rockin’ music therapy,
Jessie Johnson, MT-BC
Music Therapy Ed
PS – Wanna know more about self care? Take the self care CMTE with Ami Kunimura!
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I plan out my weeks on Sunday mornings so that I can sleep better all week knowing I’m prepared!
This can be done while driving in your car, taking a shower, when you get up in the morning, or right before you go to bed, and should not take more than 10 minutes each day. Put on your most preferred relaxing music and then do the following: Breath in for 10 seconds/beats and then breath out for 10 seconds/beats. Repeat 10 times or for best results continue for 10 minutes. You may need to start with breathing in and out for 10 seconds a total of ten times, and then increase from there to build up endurance and prevent becoming light-headed. This has calmed me, decreased my stress, and has helped me to decrease my blood pressure. I was given this advice by a nutritionist when I was having episodes of high blood pressure.
I have three excellent strategies for care that I recorded on my map to self-care! First, I tend to be a workaholic so I limit my ‘outside of client time & travel time’ work (this means work emails & notes) to 1.5 hours a day only. Now I have more time for myself and I feel less stressed. Also, I reduced stress by spending 15 min a day outside (often eating lunch or breakfast). I forgot how much I loved SUNLIGHT!! In order to help drink more water, I add fruit and ice giving it natural yummy flavor. I easily guzzle it up on the road instead of unhealthy snacking. My favorite water flavors are cucumber, lemon/blackberry, & strawberry/grape.
I have two self-care activities that I love. One is a monthly therapeutic massage. Recently I’ve added therapy balls and ‘yoga tune-up’ exercises I discovered through a barre studio. http://Www.Yogatuneup.com has great shoulder exercises that combat the stresses I put on my body as a musician.
I try to use music for self care by playing it for MYSELF! If this means picking up a new gig, jamming with friends, or writing a song just because I want to- not for work. Each time I’m done playing I feel re energized and more excited about music. It reminds me why I love music so much and in return helps me be a better clinician.
My favorite strategy for self care is remembering to *be present.* This is a skill I had to practice consciously at first, but I’ve found that it has had the most significant impact on my peace of mind and well being. Remembering to be present limits my worry about the past and future, which has alleviated the anxiety and stress I used to feel. Also, and possibly most importantly, reminding myself to be present when I step into each music therapy session allows me to focus fully on the client and their needs. This practice benefits both myself and my clients. 🙂
I have two:
1. Get sufficient sleep! If you fall at all behind, catch up within three days. And, at least once a month, get a night of excessive sleep. Sleep really does re-charge the body to function well.
2. Participate in some sort of coaching, therapy, or well-ness practice. I participate in courses and seminars offered by Landmark Worldwide. This allows for personal growth and transformation, makes me a better mother, partner, and music therapist, and has my stuff taken care of so that I can truly be present with my clients. Also, it’s really empowering and I get to create my life rather than live by default. I really do believe that I can handle ANY circumstance that may come up in life with power, freedom, self-expression, and peace of mind!
As a music therapist AND a personal trainer, I think the most important thing that you can do is to get up and move or stretch EVERY morning! There are studies that prove that exercises increase brain function and makes you more alert. Take a jog around your neighborhood each morning before work!
1. Walk more. and to help others by doing so– go to charitymiles.org -download charity miles App and through magic of GPS donate to charity of choice as you walk/run .Each mile converts into dollars which is donated to your chosen charity.
2 eating a lot healthier these days and feeling great!
3.setting aside me time in the garden- planting, digging, weeding ,listening to the birds-
My strategies are:
-Getting enough sleep; this goes along with just listening to my body in general.
-COLORING! Sounds childish, but putting on some Netflix reruns or a record (yeah, vinyl!) and coloring in an intricate geometrics coloring book is one of my go-tos when I’m feeling overwhelmed.
-Reading: a definite escape.
And a strategy that has helped me separate work and home life is something so simple, but so important for me. I don’t allow myself to call my patients anything other than “my patients.” No “my kids,” no “the kiddos,” no “little guys,” etc.
My strategies for self care are: journaling, drinking lots of water, playing music for the joy of it, and living “in the NOW.” Journaling is wonderful for processing and expressing feelings. We already know the benefits of water as we are all mostly water. We need to constantly replenish ourselves with it. We need to keep in mind what drew us to music. We all came from a variety of different backgrounds and experiences as musicians. We need to get “back to basics” and just play music for the sake of just playing music. These days there is so much anxiety regarding the future. Of course, I can only speak for myself. I’ve learned to embrace the moment and live “in the NOW.”
Self-care for me is several things – meditation, praying, reading positive books, fellowship in a 12 step recovery group, listening to Christian Comedians on Pandora, scheduling dates with my husband – or going on impromtu dates, calling and or emailing friends or family just for the heck of it, going to my chiropractor frequently, exercising daily, spending time with my two cats and two dogs, volunteering, playing a few video games at the end of the day. 🙂
Each month, I try to discover a new creative outlet. Just last week, I tried my hand at calligraphy. I’ve also had spurts of knitting, crafting with paper, and creating infographics. Opening myself up to new endeavors keeps me fueled creatively while remembering that I am never finished growing!
My biggest problem is maintaining physical wellness during my busy days of back to back session and classes, especially when I’m on the ground with my younger students.
1. Postural alignment and core activation during session
Let’s face it. As musicians, we are predisposed to health problems. Slumped, head-forward posture, bending forward from the waist, and twisting the trunk and when doing activities are just a few things that we do every day in session.
It takes time to form a habit. Call to Action: This week, every time you pick up an instrument, check-in with your body. Is your spinal column lined up? Are your hips rotated back? Are you activating your core muscles?
Not only will this help with physical health, it will start to help you tone your core immediately!
2. Stretches during sessions
I don’t know about you, but I get up and down A LOT during session. When I stand, I make sure I give my spine a little stretch, too. Also, if I have any dancing or drumming, I do a short 1-3 minute stretch beforehand. I talk to my participants about the importance of stretching and movement and we’ve been doing it for so long, my group members often leading the stretching themselves, which is incredibly empowering!
I hope this was helpful!
CrossFit, clean eating, and going new places…
Manis and pedis and sunshine on faces…
Massages with lemongrass and “going green”…
This is all part of my self-care routine!
To the tune of “My Favorite Things”
I have 5 things that I regularly do to take care of ME:
1) integrate at least weekly coffee meetups with friends, other local businesswomen, mom friends from my kids’ school, old friend, new friends. I find social interaction –face to face time with people priceless, energizing and necessary.
2) massage. As often as possible. Usually weekly or every other week.
3) worship. church. prayer. essential.
4) finding time every single day to read and play with my kids. It reminds me why I do what I do and what is most important.
5) at least weekly playing, writing, recording music, and keeping that music JUST for ME!! I’ve learned over time I need to keep certain music just for me.
I also want to really encourage all the music therapists out there to really take the time you need to take care of yourself. We bring ourselves to our clients..physically, emotionally, spiritually…we need to come healthy and prepared. 🙂
I use an art journal to express my feelings. I put on instrumental music and let my mind take over. This allows me to express emotions/feelings about different situations I may not realize I need to express. It’s my version of art improvisation. I allow myself to add words if needed but I always describe the situation/music used and what was expressed on the back. Then when I reflect back on it later, I can know exactly why I created what I did.
This has allowed me to have emotional wellness and focus on mindfulness.
Learning how to say “no” to requests has been key to my self-care journey! Music therapists are a giving bunch, and we often feel obligated to say “yes” to every request we get related to our profession, such as “brain picking”, big projects, invitations to participate in surveys, etc. I was the same way, jumping at every request, until I was spending hours a week on other peoples’ “stuff” at the expense of my own, and feeling completely burned out.
Now, I only say “yes” to a limited number of requests — the ones I feel passionate about, that I can dedicate my time to without feeling like it’s taking me away from my priorities — and pass on the rest. I was concerned about hurting others’ feelings by saying “no” — until I realized that they actually appreciated that I wasn’t going to commit to something I couldn’t give my all to. 🙂