This is part of a series of interviews I'm doing with creative entrepreneurs who I find inspiring. I was curious to know how they incorporate healthy habits into their work + life blend. I figured you were probably curious too, so I'm taking one for the team and having great conversations with amazing bosses so I can share them here with you. (Hard work, right?!)
My intention with these interviews is to showcase bosses NOT in the health and wellness industry and shine a light on their habits and routines that help them stay healthy as busy bosses. So, tell us a little about yourself and what industry you're in?
I'm a pianist, piano teacher, and accompanist. I run my own studio of almost 30 students, along with playing freelance gigs solo, as an accompanist, and with my trio: Modern Spark Trio.
As a child I took piano lessons starting at the age of 6 and then played clarinet and bass clarinet in junior high band. I would absolutely say that those experiences played a big part in why music brings me so much joy as an adult. For a few years as an adult I lived in a house with a piano and found that sitting down to play for 30 minutes or so was as relaxing and rejuvenating as meditation.
Do you incorporate music as part of your stress-relief techniques? And if so, how?
Since music is what I do for a living, there are some days where the answer is definitely no (days when I’m already playing the piano for hours - silence is much more appealing), but it really depends on what I’m working on that day.
On a typical teaching day, I’m teaching from mid-afternoon through the evening, and I ideally schedule my practice time for the morning, because that’s when I have the most energy. Some days I do really feel like I need to refresh myself after a long day by playing music I really love (usually some type of Brazilian music).
And this might sound strange, but I really don’t listen to music often enough, with really active listening. A habit I’ve wanted to start is to turn off screens before bed and listen to music (because there’s so much out there to discover!)
As you know, my tag line is health fuels hustle. Tell us how you prioritize your health so that you can run a business, teach music, perform music professionally, and still make time for yourself and your life.
I know that the three most important things I need to stay healthy are sleep, food, and exercise. If any one of those areas gets depleted for more than a few days, I usually end up getting sick, and my mental health suffers after a few days without exercise (most of the reason I exercise is that I would rather not feel anxious/depressed!)
Also, I schedule rest days on Fridays (usually a day off). Even if I have a Friday evening gig, I make sure to have rest and self-care all day until then. Lately it’s been acupuncture and reading on the couch with a cat on my lap, and most importantly, letting myself off the hook for not working that day - giving myself that permission has been a pretty new development in the last year!
"Giving myself permission has been a pretty new development in the last year!" [TWEET THIS!]
As an introvert, I really struggle with getting enough down time, especially during the months of April and May when I pick up a lot more accompanying gigs for recitals and end-of-year concerts. I have to do it, though, because the income carries over into summer, when I teach much less. During those busy times, it’s easy for me to get burned out and not have the mental space to prioritize creative projects (the important over the urgent).
It’s tempting to try to work all of the time, but now I know that feeling burned out and pushing through is so much less productive than taking the time to have a night off or to take a walk in the middle of the day. I can’t say that I have it all figured out - the balance is a constant struggle.
Are you the type of person who thrives on habits and routines like me? Yes? If so, what are your top habits that make you feel like a total boss?
A huge YES! I exercise first thing in the morning (so that I don’t have a chance to think about it and choose not to). I have certain things that I batch together and do on certain days of the week (cook food for the week on Sunday, plan all of my lessons for the week on Monday, have writing time on Thursday).
I also ideally schedule out my hours during the workday according to what’s on my to-do list (key word is “ideally”), always try to practice piano as my first activity of the day when possible, and use the Pomodoro technique to crank stuff out.
I also do a weekly check-in (inspired by the book Getting Things Done) to make sure things like keeping financial info up to date, keeping my computer and space organized, updating my website, etc. get done on a regular basis. Everything on there doesn’t happen without fail, but having it on the calendar every week ensures that those things don’t get neglected for too long. I would be totally lost without routines.
I fully believe that indulging in less-than healthy-behaviors once in a while can be part of a well-rounded healthy lifestyle. What is your number one less-than-healthy indulgence?
Sweet desserts, if I have them in the house, but I’m pretty sensitive to sugar, so I try to avoid it as much as possible. Actually, wine/beer is probably #1. I don’t tend to drink a lot, but sometimes having a nightly glass becomes too much of a habit (rather than a treat that I look forward to).
Are there any Rebecca Hass health tips that you want to spread the word about?
I don’t think that I have any super innovative health tips, but I guess I would say: don’t forget that small changes make a big difference. All of the healthy habits I’ve been able to stick with have come about through making really small changes (for example: meditate for 2 minutes per day), then building them up, and automating the habits so I don’t have to think about them - eliminating the decision making about it eliminates the chance to say no.
"Automating the habits eliminates the decision making about it - and the chance to say no." [TWEET THIS]
Want to learn more about Rebecca's music lessons in St. Paul? Check out her website here!
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