Habits are good, they are automatic responses and make us do things without having to think about it. We learn habits in our culture, like how close we stand to strangers without feeling uncomfortable, or what to eat and what not to eat.
Some habits we can teach ourselves. When starting a routine, we can make a habit of it. It happens when you learn how to ride the bicycle or how to play an instrument. After some time you have learned the basics. Once you know it, you can play with it. You can have a conversation while riding on the bicycle and watching the traffic. You can put your own interpretation into the songs you are playing on your instrument.
Some habits are less good for us, like smoking or eating junk food. While it’s difficult to extinct a bad habit, it helps if you can replace it with a healthy habit. But how do you develop healthy habits as a musician? You don’t have a 9-5 job. You have to be flexible, work in the evening and at weekends. If you want to start with a routine, you discover that your life is not regular enough to make it a habit.
The great news is, that you don’t need a regular life in order to develop healthy habits. You can take the life you have, and replace some of the stuff with healthy stuff. Sometimes all it takes is just a bit of preparation. When I quit smoking, I replaced it with drinking herbal and green tea, even in bars at night. The junk food from around the corner is easily replaced with some salad, veggies and a boiled egg from around another corner.
Though the most healthy habit you can have, is getting enough sleep. It’s good for your whole system, for your body and for your mind. Research has shown, that during sleep we get rid of all the waste that accumulates in our brain during daytime. Depending per individual, 7-9 hours of sleep per night is the best.
I hear you thinking how you could ever make it to 7 hours sleep per night, as a musician. Be assured, even as a musician you can develop a healthy routine regarding your sleep. If you perform in the evening, it doesn’t make much sense to get up at 6 or 7 in the morning. You might want to develop an alternative day-night rhythm, tailored to your life as a musician. And if you have reasons to get up that early anyday, like if you have to catch a flight or if you have children who go to school, you can catch up some sleep later in the day.
Another way to improve your sleep is to incorporate a sleep-routine. This routine shouldn’t be dependent on the clock, it’s more a routine in getting prepared to go to bed. Just take 30 minutes and develop the same activities prior to every time you go to bed, and you develop a habit in getting asleep after these activities. The activities can include bathroom activities, like taking a shower and brushing your teeth. You also can read a book or write in your diary.
What healthy habits do you want to develop?
More about sleep:
“How to optimise our brain’s waste disposal system“, The Guardian
“The Importance of Sleep: 8 Scientific Health Benefits of Sleep + Sleeping Tips“, The Health Nerd on youtube