Stories

Tips for Staying Healthy on the Road

Editor’s Note: Touring can be challenging for all artists, especially those with substance use or mental health concerns. On our Resources-Tools page, we are assembling wellness tips from and for artists who spend a good deal of time away from home. We kick off that effort here with ideas from musician John Solomon, and invite others to send us your tips, too.

By John Solomon

Hint #1: Routine, routine, routine. One thing that makes touring so stressful is the constant changes. No matter how hard you work beforehand to schedule a tour, the plans never seems to stick. The key is to find routine where you can. I focus on making my mornings identical. I wake up at the same time no matter what. I travel with my own coffee setup. I try to eat a mild breakfast and lunch at the same time each day. It seems inconvenient, or maybe a little boring, but in the long run, establishing a routine lowers the stress levels and gives you something familiar to hold on to in the middle of the tornado.

Hint #2: Exercise. Playing shows every night, riding in buses or vans for hours, and sleeping in new beds or moving vehicles every night punishes the body. Getting up and moving every day for your own sake will lessen a lot of that physical stress. I don't work out on the road like I do at home. I just work out to give myself some time to reset and get some fresh healthy feeling in my life in the midst of the chaos.

Hint #3: Consider what you are putting into your body all the time. I don't drink, but a lot of my bandmates do, and it's easy to lose track of days on the road when every night seems like a Saturday. Drinking, and eating pizza and fast food, probably won’t hurt you if done once in a while. But after the third day of tour, you'll stop remembering what day it is, and if you don't get in the habit of eating healthy and staying away from booze, then you might fall into unhealthy patterns without even realizing it. 

I know … establishing routines, exercising and eating healthy might seem like bummers compared to what you expect touring to be, but I like to remember that the tour will be exciting enough. The goal is to make it through with as many good vibes as when you started.

John Solomon is a singer, songwriter and guitar player for the acclaimed indie rock band Communist Daughter. He is also a graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in addiction studies and a former board member and ongoing advisor for Dissonance.

* Banner image above by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash. Used with permission.
* Photo below, courtesy of Communist Daughter, shows John at a roadside stand in Georgia in 2015.

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High on Life

By Dustin Tessier

I recently spent over a week in the mountains of western Montana. Now that I'm back home, the memories and impressions have been flooding my vision. Peace of mind can be hard to come by. But, as I look at this photograph, I am struck by the shift in perspective.

We climbed to the summit of RamsHorn. It was an exhausting slog up rough terrain. There were times I thought about stopping. Something kept me going, however. I don't know if I would call it inspiration, or maybe spirit. But, there was something incredibly freeing in the solitude of the climb. I found with each step, I was taken out of my own head. It was as though the pressure I put on myself to succeed, to be something, to shape how people see me as an artist, to matter—it all fell away like rotted tree bark.

The stillness of the thin air made my every labored breath echo deep in my head, and I was no longer addled with anxiety and worry. All that mattered in the moment was being present for the process. I was tasked with putting the next foot forward, and nothing more. The peace of mind was intoxicating, and I felt what it means to be human and connected again.

I was swallowed up in the vastness of it all.

Once atop the plateau, I tossed a shiny white stone, which I had carried since the start of the climb, over the edge. I think that stone was symbolic. It represented that which I have been clinging to. It represented my beautiful dreams. It was also metaphoric of the illusion of control, as my hand clenched around the rough stone, causing my fingers to cramp, my palm sweating onto the stone.

Releasing the stone, I felt the relief of letting go.

I don't know where the stone ended up. I don't know where I will end up. I don't know where my dreams will take me. I do know this: the journey matters. Being in the moment matters. Trusting in the process matters. So, I will continue moving forward. Along the way, I will remember to toss stones. I will remember to dream. I will climb the insurmountable. I will be present. I will trust. I will always remain open. I will create. I will love. The rest is up to the vast expansiveness.

Dustin Tessier is a Minneapolis-based guitarist, singer and composer, originally from Duluth, who records as Timbre Ghost and also performs with the Rolling Stoners, Mary Bue and others. His new Timbre Ghost album — Life, Death, & Disintegration — is due out Nov. 16, 2018. Dustin also is a person in long-term recovery and a licensed alcohol and drug counselor. Find him on social media at Bandcamp, Twitter and Facebook.

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Caroline Smith x Dissonance for Mental Health Month

May is Mental Health Month, and so Dissonance has teamed up with the awesome Caroline Smith to create a special awareness t-shirt. Inspired by a quote of Caroline's, the design is a reminder to look after yourself and others, and to open up the conversation and smash the stigma around mental illness and mental health care. The campaign is a limited time run through Teespring, available in regular tees, premium tees, and sweatshirts in a variety of colorways. Proceeds benefit Dissonance's programming, collaborations with artists, and resources.

Get your order in before May 24: https://teespring.com/dissonanceMN

Caroline has been a longtime friend of Dissonance, talking about her own family experiences with mental illness, her music,  and balancing ego and creativity on a Dissonance panel in 2014. Look for a little Q&A with Caroline coming up soon on the Dissonance blog, and Caroline has a May 17 show at the Cedar Cultural Center – it's sold out, but there is a ticket exchange!