It is mid-March and we are in the heat of WGI competition. At this point in the season, most of us are exhausted. Responsibilities during the week are overbearing, weekends are not restful, and the pressure to continually improve your performance can make you feel like you’ve hit a plateau.
Most performers venture down one of two routes at this point – they thrive and help the ensemble continue on an upward trajectory, or they burnout and become dead weight that other members have to carry across the finish line. None of us want to become the latter or see a friend fall into that pit of negativity. Here are five tips that I believe will help you prevent burnout and successfully reach the finish line of your WGI season.
1. Get More Sleep
Young people need a solid 9-9.5 hours of sleep per night!(1) That may be double or triple what you are currently getting some nights of the week, and this will negatively impact your performance on the floor.(2) I had to learn this the hard way during my 2012 WGI season.
In a poor choice, I took biochemistry, the hardest class of my college career, during the spring of 2012. I would lose hours of sleep during the week studying, then dig myself further into the hole by staying up late after rehearsal on the weekends. This was the single greatest contributor to me hitting a wall midway through the season.
However, I eventually made a sacrifice that changed my attitude at rehearsals and at school. I brought my own meals for lunch for the rest of the season. This meant that during lunch breaks on Saturdays, I ate in 10-15 minutes, and slept the rest of the 90 minutes. That gave me the energy I needed to focus during rehearsal and mitigated the sleep debt that had been accruing. It was a game-changer for me to revive my season.
2. Give your WGI relationships more meaning
When you feel your passion for performance fading take a look at the people around you. Remind yourself that you are not alone in having frustrations. The rest of your ensemble members are in the same situation as you and can help lift you up when necessary.
Be purposeful in spending time with the people who help give you energy. It can be easy to feed into negative attitudes and gossip about each other. Instead, choose to see the good that each person has to offer the group. You will find much deeper meaning in performing together if you cultivate the relationships around you.
3. Find a stress release that is non-WGI related
Taking time for yourself gets quickly overlooked when you have the typical non-stop WGI schedule. Pick a day and time each week that you can block off to recharge – even if it’s just an hour. Small deposits to your personal energy bank will help you make large gains towards enjoying the rest of your season.
Taking time for yourself will be even better for you if you use that time to do something totally different than playing your instrument or tossing your rifle. Do something that you would consider “play”. Play a sport, go on a hike, or read a good book. You’ll be surprised how refreshed you feel afterward.
4. Stay ahead in school and work
If you are a student, maintaining good grades is probably your number one stressor. One poor exam grade during WGI season can be the difference between keeping and losing a scholarship. The workload cannot be lessened, but mastering time management can help. Look ahead for what assignments are two to three weeks out and find ways to get started early.
If you are working, paying dues can feel overwhelming. Hopefully, you are either up-to-date on your dues or have a payment plan scheduled. If you need to set an extended payment plan FOLLOW THROUGH! Paying your dues now is the difference between your ensemble continuing to grow in the coming years or having to fold.
5. Spend time with friends/family
The busyness of a WGI season can cause you to lose perspective on life. Yes, you are accomplishing more in a few months than many people achieve in years. However, being so hyper-focused on this activity can cause you to develop tunnel vision and miss important changes going on with those around you.
Whether it’s a weekly phone call to home or a regular meal with a best friend, spending time checking in with loved ones. For me, that was stopping by home on the way back to school after rehearsal weekends. Spending that hour or so getting a home-cooked meal and talking to my parents gave me the encouragement I needed to stay motivated during the week.
I hope these tips help you find continued purpose in your performance and give you the motivation to finish your season as a leader in your ensemble. If you have any other tips please shoot me a message – I would love to hear from you! Please “share” this post on social media if you enjoyed it.
1. Sleep in Adolescents (13-18 Years). Sleep in Adolescents :: Nationwide Children’s Hospital. http://www.nationwidechildrens.org/sleep-in-adolescents. Accessed July 21, 2017.
2. Harrison Y, Horne J. 2000. The impact of sleep deprivation on decision making: A review. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied. 6:236-249.