This is the number one battle for any road dog. Everything is going great leading up to the tour, But once the first day hits, it’s a different story altogether. The deeper you get into the run, the more tired you get. There’s nothing worse than a mid-tour burnout. I’m gonna break down the 5 things that I do/know other road dogs do to keep it together and stay healthy over short and long tours. This is not just about physical health. You have to stay mentally sharp on the road.
#1. Mental Health
You need to Protect Your Vibe at all costs. Like I mentioned above, there is nothing worse than hitting a mid-tour burnout. These are the days where you don’t wanna roll out of your bunk, when someone asks you to do something, you get all pissed off and misunderstand their tone, and most importantly, you don’t feel grateful living this amazing life. These days are gasoline on the fire of mental and physical health.
Here’s what works: (for me at least)
- Take some time to yourself. Even if you walk to Starbucks and get some fresh air or turn the lights out when you take a shower, “Me Time” is especially important when you’re sharing a bus (or worse, a van) with a bunch of people who are likely hitting the hump as well.
- Humble yourself. If you’re on the road, your life is at least decent. Be grateful that you have food, you have clean water to drink every day, you’re at work and getting paid. A little perspective can go a long way.
- Learn to shut it down. For those of us that have jobs that require numbers or logistics or anything that requires a lot of brainpower. You need to learn to shut it down. I listen to mediation tapes and focus playlists on Spotify. Taking some deep breaths can help you eliminate distractions without losing your focus. Always remember, you’re more useful to everybody when you’re on your game.
And you’re probably dehydrated.
#2 Physical Health
Listen, I know a bunch of you aren’t even gonna bother reading this section. I’m not saying you need to be doing cross fit in the truck when the opening band does soundcheck. I’m not saying you need to wake up an hour earlier to go for a run downtown Baltimore and get mugged. Simply, I’m suggesting you do the bare minimum to manage your health. Take the stairs to the dressing room or even go for a long walk on a day off.
Here’s what works: (Again, at least for me)
- Break a sweat. Find a way to do 50-100 pushups and sit ups/day. Literally anything to break a small sweat or get the blood pumping wont make it seem like such a big undertaking. If you have a job where you push cases, maybe you can pass on this step.
- Get Limber. Don’t be one of those assholes that takes over the loading dock with your yoga poses and stretches 5 mins before load in. Get an app that helps you stretch the areas you need to so you don’t roll out of your bunk and start lifting and pushing before you’ve really stood up straight. You’re useless to everybody if you’re hurt.
- Sleep/Rest. This probably deserves its own category. Get sleep and rest whenever you can. These are long days. Sit on the dock when its not busy and relax. Spend a day off horizontal in your hotel room. Some of you need to hear this. When you get on the bus, FOR CHRIST SAKES, GO TO BED.
Just thinking… If you’re moving around a bunch you should drink some water.
#3. Eat Right
One of my biggest weaknesses on tour is eating right. I go to the gym at the hotels, I like to think of myself as a zen master, but I can’t stop myself from crushing the dessert table in catering. LIKE WHY THE FUCK IS IT THERE ALL DAY ANYWAYS?! What are they trying to do to us? I personally believe that your gut is the main control of your wellness. I’m not a scientist, but below is what works for me.
Here’s what works:
- Eat Cleaner. For those of you thinking “This is America and it’s my right to eat red meat on every meal” Then fine. Fuck you, be fat and slow, I don’t care. For those of you interested in being less sluggish, try eating more chicken and fish. When you smother it in cheese and cream sauces it defeats the purpose. For the veggie folks, congrats, you’re already a step ahead. Refined sugar is the devil. It does terrible things to your body. Try agave or stevia in your coffee and steer clear of the donuts in the morning.
- Increase Vitamins. When singers get sick and they bring in the rock-doc, I can almost guarantee you they get a B12 shot. Get some B12 ankle patches and get enough vitamin C. Try fresh-pressed juices and whole foods shots. They taste gross but are really healthy. Try some green veggies at every meal.
- Decrease Caffeine. Obviously coffee is a great way to start the day. Too much though and it starts to work against you. If you drink a red bull and start sweating and talking fast, Maybe you should switch to WATER.
#4 Adapt, Adapt, Adapt
“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” – Mike Tyson
I love this quote from Tyson. Because more than just staying healthy, it’s relatable for a bunch of aspects of touring. The key here is to listen to your body. Don’t get caught playing checkers in a game of chess.
Here’s what works:
- Cheat days. Some days you are gonna be better than others. but try not to fly off the rails on a cheat day. Understand that you are a human and with a high-pressure job, sometimes you need a non-healthy outlet.
- Don’t get discouraged. There are a lot of days where the stars don’t align and your routine is upside down. You spend the whole day taking the artist from interview to station then back for soundcheck, just to do the show and go to an after-party immediately. These days are inevitable but disruptive to your well being. Make sure to actively get back on track as fast as you can.
- Ration Energy. If your body is tired, take it a little easier than normal. If you’re super hyper, try and conserve your energy. The same goes for mental stress. Recharge and distribute your energy as needed.
All of this typing is making me thirsty. I’m gonna have some water.
If you’re feeling the burn, or banging your head against the wall, don’t worry. We’ve all been there. Get vocal with your team.
Here’s what works:
- Be honest. “I’m feeling a little burnt out today. I need you guys to bear with me.” Is a great way to communicate without having the rest of the crew turn on you. Admitting fault is a powerful weapon. Telling the rest of the crew “My bad, that’s on me” can go a long way.
- Ask for Help. If you’re feeling the burn every day and are being overworked, then bring that to whoever you work for. If you need help, you need help. Nobody wins when you let your pride get in the way.
- Buddy up. Normally when I start burning out, others are at the same time. Letting people know that you’re run down will let others know that it’s ok for them to be as well. Look out for each other out there. We’re all in this together.
I want you to know that I’m here for you. Reach out to [email protected] if you need a pep talk or just some more ideas to break the funk. You’re all soldiers and I admire you. Now drink some water and get back to it.
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