A Sound Designer Prepares: Mind and Body

When I’m preparing to go into tech for a new show, there’s a lot I have to do to prepare.  Some of these things include:  Making sure my paperwork is correct and up to date, checking all show hardware (speakers, mics, consoles, computers, etc.), programming consoles and playback systems, and making sure my crew is also prepped and ready to go.  I must admit that I used to always prioritize these needs above my own personal needs.  I’m a pretty tough person, and I know that I can power through hunger, aches, and pains, and sleep deprivation, but after years of operating in this way (and let’s be real, after getting older) I find that while I CAN still power through, it’s not worth it.  My mind, body, and even my work suffer from that kind of self-neglect.  In this blog, I’m letting you know about a few things I make sure to take care of when I’m preparing for a new show.  These recommendations will keep you on the right track to mindful and healthy work.

(Good) Food=Fuel

Ok, I know we all love to load our tech tables up with tech snacks (….right?? Or is this just me…I’m a snacker), but is your snack stock loaded with sugary/processed foods?  If so, these snacks are not helping you be your best brilliant self.  For me, specifically, I also try to look for quiet snacks, so crunchy is out!  Some great whole food options that will double as a brain boost are blueberries, walnuts, seeds (hemp, flax, chia, and pumpkin are great omega-3 foods), coconut chips, almonds, and avocado (I’m a Cali girl, so I’ll just split one open and eat with a spoon!). For meals, consider whole grains like brown rice, oatmeal, whole-grain bread, and whole-grain pasta to increase your focus and concentration.  Beans and salmon are also excellent brain boosters, and the preparation possibilities are endless!  Stick to water, coffee, and tea to keep your brain in tip-top condition, and go for dark chocolate if you need a sweet pick-me-up!  These superfoods are sure to keep your bad self on point all tech week long!

More (Brain) Rest Is Best

It may be obvious to say that a good night’s sleep is imperative during a high-intensity work week, but getting those 8 hours (or as close to 8 as possible) isn’t the only thing we can do to keep ourselves rested enough to keep out brains sharp.  When you start to feel your mind wandering or you’re getting too tired to focus, take one of those 10-minute breaks and treat yourself to a power nap.  Just 10 minutes is all you need to disconnect and reengage for a renewed sense of sharper thinking.  Engaging your unfocus brain can also do wonders.  If naps aren’t for you, on the next 10, step away from the computer and walk around the space.  Talk to friends about cats.  Plan your opening night outfit.  Do something to disengage from the work, and reap the benefits from your newly readied brain when break time is over.  Free walking can also greatly increase your creative focus.  During the dinner break, resist staying the full 2 hours grinding out all of your notes.  Instead, dedicate at least 30 minutes to aimless walking (so around a park, or a quick little trail as opposed to something structured like a track).  Do it outside for an extra brain boost bonus!

Low Stress Is More Productive

We all know that tech week can be very stress-inducing, so lowering your personal stress is a great way to enter the week.  Some little things you can do to lower your personal stress are:  Making sure you have your laundry done (and put away…I know, yuck, but you’ll thank me later) the week before tech starts, meal/snack prepping for the week, stashing few extra device chargers in your bag, locating and cleaning your two favorite water bottles (hydrate or die-drate, I always say), and canceling any social plans that fall during tech week.  Drinks after a long day of tech can seem really cathartic and fun, but that activity is not going to help with your mindful self-care, so instead, save it for opening night, and go all out!  If you need to wind down at the end of the day, try a bubble bath followed by 20 minutes of relaxation low-intensity yoga right before bed.  Couple this with 20 minutes of morning yoga after your morning coffee, and I promise you’ll be unstoppable.

Remember that you got this contract because this company values your skills.  That is why we always work so hard to over-perform during tech, but when we don’t listen to our minds and bodies, those skills are not shining at their fullest potential, and we are also left suffering for the cause.  Advocate for yourself and your needs, and listen to your body.  It knows what to do.

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