The Importance of Self-Care as an Artist

Ever since I dove headfirst into the pursuit of being a singer-songwriter and producer, I’ve often questioned how I was going to create balance in my life. As if making my own music, writing my own lyrics and recording/engineering my vocals, designing my own artwork, going to school, and trying to maintain a steady income with multiple jobs wasn’t enough, throw taking care of my Type 1 Diabetes on top of the cake. For the first 2 years, after dropping out of nursing school to attend ICON Collective, a music production school in Burbank, I took very little care of my health. While I was at ICON, my diet consisted of chicken nuggets (with a pool of ranch), pizza (also with a pool of ranch), ice cream (Ben & Jerry’s), burgers from the Ruby’s around the corner from my apartment, and hardly anything with nutritional value. My knees felt like they had arthritis (and probably did at the time) and Planet Fitness was my worst nightmare. I was a hot mess and it took a very eye-opening diabetes check-up appointment for everything to change.

In a few short months, I turned into a grass-fed, meditation-loving health freak. I read more books than I had in my entire 22 years on this planet. I listened to probably over 100 podcasts on health and science-related topics. Through all of the books and podcasts, I learned how to hack my biology (a term now known as “biohacking”) and be the best version of myself. Although I, like everyone on this planet, am still a work in progress, I’ve finally reached a point where I can kick ass with my music while also maintaining a healthy and happy lifestyle. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a tough journey trying to build all of my current daily habits, but I think that it’s the biggest investment in my future (and present) self that’s currently available to me. If you’re an artist and you’re feeling unmotivated, I seriously recommend focusing on your health. This will directly translate into feeling more energized, motivated and will extend your lifespan, among MANY other things. Here are some books I highly recommend reading or listening to with Audible (they’ve seriously changed my life):

Now go read (I know, reading is HARD but just do it) one of those and thank me later. 

As I was saying… Taking care of your health and happiness should be your #1 priority in life! You can’t do what you love if you’re unhappy and feeling like a potato. Trust me when I say that self-care is a superpower. You might not be able to jump across buildings or shoot spider webs out of your palms, but you’ll get closer and closer to reaching your full potential as a unique and awesome human being on this strange rock (side note: One Strange Rock on Netflix is an incredible show). And that will make you feel like a superhero. This brings me to another form of self-care that is essential to being your best self and my absolute favorite—good quality SLEEP!!

Fun fact: my nickname amongst my friends is “grandma” and I’m proud of it (you’ll see why in a second).

“Sleep is for the weak,” they said, but I actually think it’s the other way around. Sleep was the most common recurring theme in most of the health and wellness books and podcasts I ingested. One big thing I learned about was deep sleep (AKA slow-wave delta sleep). This is when your brain recovers from what you’ve learned during the day, strengthens memory, reduces cortisol levels and triggers the release of growth hormone and prolactin (which support your immune system including a whole lot of other fun stuff). The average human doesn’t get sufficient deep sleep due to the increasing use of devices that emit blue light at nighttime and our lack of control when it comes to late-night snacking. These have a number of harmful effects on your body, one of them being your ability to fall asleep at night and get enough deep sleep. After doing some research, I figured out some ways to hack my sleep:

  • I invested in blue light blocking glasses. I throw them on once the sun is down to block harmful light when I’m watching Netflix, working on music or scrolling aimlessly through Twitter. You can get them for $90 on Amazon or buy a cheaper brand (I bought Truedark because it was recommended by a Podcast I listened to):
  • I downloaded the app Sleep Cycle and Sonic Sleep for iPhone. Sleep Cycle is great because it won’t wake you if you’re in deep sleep. Sonic Sleep uses your microphone to sense your breathing while you sleep and plays specific sounds to increase REM when you’re already dreaming and other sounds to increase deep sleep
  • I meditate every morning as a means to clear my head and start the day off on a good foot. There’s a lot of research that shows daily meditation (even in the morning) helps with sleep. Meditation has so many health benefits I could write a whole book about it, but if you’re curious, I would recommend reading the book Just Sit by Sukey Novogratz. It’s $15 on Amazon and a very fun and informative read.
  • I stop eating once the sun goes down (although sometimes my so-called “Labrador Brain” will kick in and I’ll indulge in some no sugar added vanilla bean coconut milk ice cream by So Delicious if dinner didn’t do the trick. I’m trying my best okay). 
  • I don’t drink coffee or tea after 3 pm (or really anytime in the afternoon unless I really need a pick me up)
  • I go to bed between 10 and 11 pm and wake up between 6:30 and 7:30 am. Everyone’s different but this is what works best for me and leaves me feeling the most refreshed. This is also why all of my friends refer to me as “Grandma” or “Grandpa”.
  • I started exercising 2-4x per week (HIIT 1x where I do 30-second sprints with 90 seconds of rest for 10-15 minutes, and RET 1-3x)
  • Gratitude!! I think genuinely feeling grateful is incredibly powerful. I have a gratitude jar and I write 3 things every morning and evening and put them into my jar. The jar serves as a physical reminder of all of the things I have to be grateful for. 

This is a lot of shit, I know. It’s taken me about 7 months of building habits and I’m still working on the exercise and not eating after the sun goes down parts, but I’ve already seen dramatic changes in how I feel, look and show up to the world.

I’m going to end this with a quote from my Diabetes doctor, “YOU are the most important person in the world”. What I took away from this powerful phrase is this: At the end of the day, you’re the only person that can take charge of your own life, and there’s no better time to start than right now. I hope that you can take something away from all of the things I’ve learned in the past year. My greatest credential is that I live and love this kind of life and it makes me so happy when people reach out to me saying that I inspired them to start meditating, eating healthier, etc. I’ve always had this dream of doing music and eventually using my platform as a way to spread love and knowledge about how to stay healthy and happy in this messy but beautiful life. If most of the stuff I’ve shared is foreign to you, take things one step at a time. Build habits, and if you fuck up, get back on your feet and try again. 🙂

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