Greetings from Storrs, Connecticut! I’m writing you lovely folks from the Connecticut Repertory Theatre, where I’m currently in performances for the musical HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING. We lovingly refer to CRT as summerstock on crack, because of how insanely fast the entire process is. After only 2 weeks of rehearsal (including tech, orchestra rehearsals and staging) we’re up and running in front of an audience!
These CRT processes are dramatically shorter than most (and no one has an understudy), so it’s critical to stay healthy. Actors are asked all the time what tricks and tools they use to keep them performing 8 shows a week, and being here has gotten me thinking a lot about my go-to’s. Here’s what I brought with me to Connecticut:
Oil of Oregano. I started using this on tour, and it’s been a staple ever since. Oregano oil – the most concentrated form of the herb – is a powerful antimicrobial that helps to fight off infection. If I’m feeling a bit rundown or under the weather, I put a few drops on my tongue and swallow it with water. Do NOT make the mistake of putting it on your tongue without having water handy (it’ll start to burn)!
Apple Cider Vinegar. There’s a reason people have been using this stuff for hundreds of years; it works! ACV is a natural immunity booster, contains natural enzymes that aid in digestion, and works to break down mucus deposits in your organs and tissue. Basically, it does a billion things, all of which work to keep your body functioning at its best. I drink a tablespoon in water daily, and will sometimes gargle with that same mixture (if my throat’s feeling particularly icky).
Honey Loquat Syrup. Loquat fruit has natural anti-inflammatory properties and is used by a lot of opera singers for laryngitis. I usually take a spoonful after shows – it coats my throat and combats any swelling.
Liquid Wellness Formula. This tastes like deliciousness and is chock-full of echinacea, goldenseal and ginger; all ingredients that bolster the body’s immune system. I switched to the liquid after years of buying the horse pill version (which require you to be some kind of sorcerer to swallow)!
Sea Salt. One of the best tools in my arsenal is good ol’ fashioned sea salt! Gargling with warm salt water is an easy sure-fire way to clear bacteria out of your throat and reduce swelling.
Probiotics. I take probiotics every morning, for a couple reasons. One, I struggle with acid reflux. Probiotics keep the bacteria in the stomach balanced, so food is digested properly. Two, a lot of the body’s immune system stems from the stomach. Who knew?! Replenishing good bacteria in the stomach bolsters your body’s natural defenses, and keeps you healthier. My brand of choice is Garden of Life RAW Ultimate Care; each pill has over 100 billion flora.
SmartyPants Vitamins. I’ve never been a big vitamin fan (an average healthy-eating person should be able to gain all nutrients they need from fruits, veggies, etc.) but I found these via Instagram a couple months ago and quickly became a convert. Their all-in-one women’s formula has omega-3’s EPA & DHA fish oil (hard to get consistently in diet), Vitamin K2 for bone health and folate. Not to mention the gummies are DELICIOUS! I never forget to take them because I look forward to it every morning!
Neti Pot. Aside from sickness, allergies can be one of the most debilitating things for singers. Connecticut in the summer is particularly nasty – it’s about a month behind NYC, so EVERYTHING is blooming when CRT loads in for the season. And, unlike most sicknesses, allergies are really hard to combat once they take hold. Prevention and maintenance are my two tools for keeping things under control, so every morning I wash out my sinuses with a warm salt water rinse via my Neti pot. Give it a try, you’ll be shocked to see what’s been stuck in there!
Visine Allergy Eye Drops. Most allergens enter through the eyes (surprise!) so I take extra precaution and use eye drops a few times a day.
Personal Steamer. When I’m fatigued at the end of a long rehearsal or show day, steaming my throat and vocal cords is the fastest way to repair and soothe. I bought my little steamer from Amazon, and it’s a miracle!
Sugar-free Ricola. These are great on-the-spot help for dryness or sore throat. Plus, they’re made with all natural herbs and no added sugars, so they won’t make you jittery.
Sleep and Water. If I could pick two things as being the most important for overall wellness and performance, it would be SLEEP and WATER! Sleep is critical for your body to function properly, as it uses those hours to repair, heal, digest and rest. I need a little more than most people; about 8-9 hours a night. Of course I can function on less, but I find when I get more sleep the happier, healthier and calmer I feel! As for water, hydration is SO important for the vocal cords to vibrate smoothly. I try to drink as much water as humanely possible (especially at CRT; the theatre is insanely dry), but aim for around 65 ounces of water a day.
Okay, your turn: What do you use to stay healthy?! Comment below!