My body is my instrument. As cheesy as that sounds, it's true.
There's a feeling of panic I never want to experience ever again: I'm in the middle of a shift doing my theme park work where I have to talk and sing through multiple 13-minute shows, and I have a musical I have to sing in right after. I feel a sting in my throat when I swallow, and I feel the exhaustion in my neck. Shit.
This has happened to me several times (and too many to boot), and each time, the stress of not being able to perform my responsibilities overwhelmed me. Having your own human body as your instrument, your tool, and your vessel is overwhelming, ESPECIALLY if you perform as your occupation. As a theatre actor, you're encouraged to experiment with gesture and movement, on top of any dancing your body may go through. I've also been a vocalist for years now, and your duty/servitude to the health of your larynx is an intimate, weird relationship. You want to take care of yourself because you value yourself of course, but also...you need to make money and attend appointments and demonstrate your skills and appease audiences and ohmygoddoesanyonehavehoneyloquatortylenolbecauseimdyingrightnowohmygodohmygod..., ad infinitum.
Taking care of yourself becomes not just a human necessity, but your job.
Additionally, any stress you may feel about this strange labor-pact you have with your health can compromise any scrap of mental wellbeing you have left.
Lately, to avoid this psychosomatic catastrophe, I've made my health a priority; I meal prep, I exercise a couple times a week, I keep a yoga mat and foam roller in my dressing room, and I stay hydrated like it's my job (which it kinda is if you think about it!) The image of myself has become the following: sensible shoes, trusty backpack with large reusable water bottle, hair out of face, nutritious lunch to go. I bet you can spot other performers sporting this ensemble.
Working as a performer outside of hobbyist schedules can be taxing, and has almost indebted me to taking care of myself. This is a weird way to think about it but, hey, at least it's keeping me healthy?