My seven secrets of survival: Rachael Sage, singer/songwriter

1 Arts and Crafts. This is one of the things that I do to pull myself back from total exhaustion.

I don't do yoga, I'm not religious; but when I sit down to decoupage a piece of furniture, rhinestone an old picture-frame or fabric-paint a pair of jeans, my blood-pressure drops and my whole outlook on life shifts. It's very meditative. I find enormous satisfaction in bringing new life to old stuff. Creating something uniquely personal out of something ordinary can be very good for the soul.

2 Keep people around who make you laugh. Artists can get very wrapped up in themselves – it's the nature of being creative, when you're looking inward you can lose perspective. My tour manager is the wittiest person I've ever met, and she's not afraid to go to elaborate lengths to play practical jokes on me. My sister and I giggle about things only we understand – having grown up in the same wacky, colourful family. My favourite people are much funnier, more light-hearted, than I am, they balance me out.

3 Tzedakah. Growing up, we had a teacher in Hebrew school whose mission was to drill into us how important it was to give back to the community – to perform acts of tzedakah. He didn't care what we did – we could volunteer at a home for the elderly, plant a garden for someone wheelchair-bound, or whatever felt right to us individually. He made it his mission to prove how uplifting it was to help those in need. He showed us that generosity heals not only the recipient, but the giver as well.

4 Taking baths. One of my favourite things about touring is the hotels. Sometimes I'm able to find an hour between checking in and leaving for the gig to just take a really relaxing, quiet, cellphone-off bubble bath. It may not seem that luxurious to some people, but I feel lucky that something so simple can seem like heaven to me. The little things such as great soap that smells like vanilla, or mint shampoo – they make a huge difference, when you're ready to collapse.

5 Sometimes I like to go somewhere alone where everyone else is coupled up, or where I might bring my partner but I don't. It could be a restaurant, movie or the ballet; but sometimes I just want that psychic space and anonymity that comes with taking oneself out on a date, conversing silently with one's own opinions. If a lover ever tried to take that away from me, I'd probably have to leave them.

6 Make friends with discipline. When I was little I wanted to quit ballet because it hurt and I was too young to understand how moving your leg in a circle 100 times would eventually result in a beautiful gesture. However, my parents made me stick with it. This took me all the way to study at the School of American Ballet and to perform with the New York City Ballet. By then I loved it so much that I forgot I'd ever wanted to quit. Now when I think something is too hard for me to master, I realise it's probably exactly the thing I need to be doing, in order to feel fulfilled.

7 Don't be a farbissina. This is an expression in Yiddish that means a very unhappy person. When I encounter them I take it as a personal challenge to make them smile. I've always felt that if I can change someone's mood by distracting them from their own problems, then that's a very big accomplishment. I'll ask people for directions if they seem downtrodden, just to have a chance to smile at them and look them in the eye. I also try to dress as sparkly and theatrically as possible because I think when people see someone shamelessly wearing their passion on their sleeve – literally – it's infectious. It's a pretty easy thing to do, to put on a few layers of tulle that'll blow beautifully in the wind, so why not?

• Rachael Sage is appearing at the Edinburgh Fringe in Sequins & Schpiel: An Evening with Rachael Sage, 7-11 August, at the City Nightclub, 1a Market Street. Tickets 8/5, see