The life of a DJ is great. We get paid to party, drink alcohol and socialise. Sounds perfect, right?
The lifestyle of a DJ can very easily become an unhealthy one and considering the majority of DJs are self-employed, we need to stay healthy in order to keep getting paid.
The following tips are all tried and tested and will definitely help if you are trying to stay healthy and at the top of your game.
(1) Protect your hearing
You may be wondering why I listed this one first? The reason is that I think that it is the most important tip of all.
I won’t dive into too much detail here as I wrote an article about the effects that DJing can have on your hearing.
However, you must remember that your ears are your main tools, so looking after them should be at the top of your list of priorities.
In the article linked above, I mention that even a simple pair of earplugs from your local pharmacy can offer some basic protection from the relentless pounding that our ears take while playing in clubs and at festivals.
(2) Wear comfortable footwear when you DJ
Ok, some of the superstar DJs will be on stage for barely an hour before being whisked away in a limousine to a private jet. For the majority of us though, we are used to playing anywhere from 3 to 5 hours on average.
If you do not wear comfortable shoes, your feet will start to hurt. To stop your feet from hurting, you will compensate in other ways which may make your legs hurt. If your legs start to hurt, you could make adjustments which will make your hips hurt. And so on…..
If you only play a handful of gigs per year then this might not have much of an effect on you. However, if you are playing 3, 4, 5 or more gigs per week, then this may very quickly start to take its toll on your lifestyle.
If you are concerned that comfortable footwear isn’t always the most fashionable, then you can always make some space in your DJ bag and put them on once you reach the DJ booth.
“Sleep is for the weak” or “I can sleep when I am dead” are two of the most famous sayings you will hear thrown around.
Sleep requirements vary from person to person, but the general consensus is that the average adult needs between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night.
What makes it more difficult for us DJs is that we work very unsociable hours. We are at work when the majority of the population are sleeping and then we try to sleep when everyone else is going about their day.
If you sleep at home after most of your gigs, it might be a good idea to invest in some blackout curtains to make sure that the daylight doesn’t creep in. If you tend to be on the road a lot, request a room in a quiet part of the hotel to prevent yourself from being disturbed.
Some studies have suggested that segmented sleep (breaking up sleep into separate shifts) is actually a better way to get our much-needed shut-eye. If you don’t find this possible, then you may find it beneficial to take a nap when required.
A lot of DJs hold down a full-time job throughout the week, play gigs on both nights of the weekend and still find time to spend with friends, family and significant others. How do they manage to do this?
This is when a nap can become a DJs best friend.
I find that I feel better if I nap for under 45 minutes or around 90 minutes. While this may differ for different people, there is some evidence to suggest why these are the optimum timings for napping.
The key to waking up refreshed from a nap is all about timing. Just 20 minutes is all you need to get the benefits of napping, such as improved alertness, enhanced performance and a better mood.
If you’re lucky enough to be able to lie down for 90 minutes, your body should have time to make it through one complete sleep cycle where you go from the lightest stage through the deepest stage of sleep and back again, so you’ll wake feeling refreshed.sleep.org
(5) Quit smoking
If you are a smoker, both you and your bank balance will be much healthier if you quit. I know it is easy for me to say as I have never smoked, but please try your hardest.
(6) Drink less alcohol
Whether you are a DJ at a pub, a bar, a club, a festival or a wedding, the likelihood is that there will always be alcohol available. At a lot of the gigs I have done, getting 2 or 3 free alcoholic drinks is standard.
If you gig once a week, then a couple of beers probably isn’t going to have too much of a negative effect on your lifestyle (presuming you don’t drink heavily during the other 6 days of the week).
However, if you gig 3 or 4 times per week and you take your quota of free drinks each time, then it quickly multiplies.
If you take 2 drinks per night, start taking only 1. Once that becomes a habit, reduce the frequency that you take drinks from 4 times per week to 3, and then eventually to twice or even once per week.
In addition to this being beneficial for your health, it could also be beneficial for your career. I know it is our job to entertain and sometimes you may feel that you need a few drinks to gain that Dutch courage, but too many drinks could affect your performance and ultimately lead to your venue looking for a new DJ.
(7) Drink more water
There are many differing opinions regarding how much water we should drink. Many experts disagree with each other, but a general rule of thumb is that we should be drinking at least 1.5 litres of water each day to avoid dehydration. This amount should be increased if you exercise regularly or live in warmer climates.
More specifically to the lifestyle of the average DJ, if you do have a couple of alcoholic drinks while working, try to drink a bottle of water in between those drinks. If you feel the need to have an energy drink, try to drink some water before and the urge may go away.
Once you get home from a gig or back to the hotel, try and drink a glass of water before you go to bed. It will help with the incoming hangover if you have had one-too-many.
(8) Prepare your own healthy food
I know that this will take a bit of time, but this is the area where you can potentially save the most calories.
If you are leaving a club at 3 am, 4 am or 5 am then your options are probably limited to either burgers, pizzas or kebabs.
Preparing your own food at home prior to going to the club is beneficial in many ways:
- You know exactly what is going in to the meal
- You choose the portion size
- You save money
If you aren’t much of a chef, you can still save those calories by taking some fruit or a low sugar protein bar with you to eat during or after the gig.
Not everyone likes to work out. Even though I go to the gym at least 4 times per week, I wouldn’t say that I am ever excited to go.
Having said that, I find that I sleep very well and manage to maintain a healthy weight (most of the time), which I attribute in part to leading a relatively healthy lifestyle with regular exercise.
Going to the gym isn’t for everyone, so try to find something that you enjoy doing. That way you will be more likely to exercise regularly.
Swimming, jogging or walking are easily accessible for most people or you could speak to some other DJs and do some pairs/team sports such as football, squash or badminton.
I have suffered from various neck and back problems in the past and I think a lot of them have been caused by my posture when DJing.
You may not think of DJing as an occupation that can cause body pain or discomfort, but you would be surprised:
- If the decks aren’t at the correct height, you could be hunching or reaching
- If you use a laptop and it is positioned to the side, you might be straining your neck
- If the DJ booth isn’t directly in front of the dance floor, you may be twisting your entire body
If you are experiencing pain in certain areas, why not research the best stretches that will bring some relief and see if they help you?
Stretching has been proven to increase your flexibility and the flow of blood to your muscles as well as reducing the frequency of headaches and relieving stress.
Stretching is now a regular part of my everyday routine and, thankfully, a lot of my discomfort is now being controlled.
If stretching doesn’t work for you and you are still experiencing some discomfort, why not try getting a massage?
Make sure you go to a properly licensed massage therapist (if the therapist offers a happy ending or other “extras”, the likelihood is that they aren’t licensed!)
I get a
Most of us have our vices, but I am a firm believer in enjoying things in moderation. If you cannot quit something altogether, try to reduce it. Take baby steps to begin with.
You may already follow some of the tips on this list as part of your existing lifestyle, which is great. If you do, try to introduce some more of them as time goes on.
If you have your own lifestyle tips, please feel free to share them and I may even update this list and include them.