by Sam Leicht
We're traveling all the time. Airports are full of germs. We're not eating or sleeping as well as we should be. Trying to ward off illness on the road is no joke. And even with the most diligent practices, getting sick is unavoidable. So while we try our best to ward off sickness altogether, it's important to have a contingency plan for when we do get sick. How can we shorten the lifespan of our illnesses and limit damage to our bodies when we still have shows to do?
As an understudy, I'm lucky. When I get sick, I usually have the luxury of doing the number one thing to preserve the voice: shut up. But I figure the information that might be the most helpful might come from my cast mates, so I decided to ask them their secrets!
From the Cast
Chris McCarrell (Percy)
I sing differently. The best voice teacher I ever had never let me cancel lessons on days I didn't feel well. He told me that training is for the days you're not at full capacity. Everyone can sing well on good days. So I retrained how I think of my voice. It's not black and white or sick/healthy. It's a sliding scale. Every day, I sing differently based on how it feels. Microphones are a game changer as well on down days if you know how to use them efficiently.
Kristin Stokes (Annabeth)
Swears by hydration, oregano oil capsules, light food (nothing within 1.5 hours of the show), vocal warmup and REST.
Jorrel Javier (Grover/Mr. D)
WATER! When you think you've had enough, drink 12 more ounces. Sleep and rest - both physically and vocally. Hot showers and baths (but don't forget to hydrate again!).
James Hayden Rodriguez (Luke)
Personal steamer/humidifier for the throat. Neti-pot (with filtered water) for sinus clearing. Mucinex for phlegm. Oregano oil for anti-inflammation. And Pedialyte for hydration.
Sarah Beth Pfeifer (Clarisse)
Neti Pot, wellness formula, sleep, hydrate. Also, I think all of these things don't actually do much and the placebo effect is the best we can do. But using these tools to feel more in control of the situation works for me!
Jalynn Steele (Sally)
1. Rest 2. Rest. 3. Rest. 4. Rest 5. Water.
Ryan Knowles (Chiron)
Vocal rest. Avoid talking but use voice occasionally in gentle way. Drink plenty of fluids - water, Pedialyte, tea with honey and lemon. Steam! Sit in a steam room or hot shower for 20 minutes, breathing deeply and very softly vocalizing. Lymphatic massage (this is vital!) And SLEEP.
Find Your Routine
In our own ways, we really do a lot of the same things to bounce back from sickness. And there's really no getting around the most important tip: rest. One thing I'd add to the list is possible exercise. There's a general rule of thumb for exercising when sick. If you've got a head cold, light to medium intensity exercise can actually kick start your immune system into action. If your sickness feels like it has moved its way to your lungs or you have body aches and fever, it's best to avoid the gym and take that extra time to rest. My routine definitely includes baths, Neti-Pot, and sleeping, but as Sarah Beth said, it's all about finding the routine that works for you. If you believe in your routine, that's really your best bet for shortening the duration of your illness.
Last thing I'll mention - what you eat, how much you sleep, and exercise are all factors in immune system support. So if you're really interested in bolstering your ability to ward off sickness, eat more vegetables and less fried foods, sleep 7-9 hours, and make sure you're exercising 4-5 times a week. These habits won't make you invincible, but they've been proven to decrease your chances of getting sick.
Check back next month for a special post about Demigod Bootcamp where our cast will be taking on a CrossFit workout together!