The global pandemic wreaked havoc on many small businesses and individual proprietors.
Musicians were one of the most impacted groups since the music industry had to cease live performances. As a result, they have been feeling the struggle for their careers and their ability to perform.
Emotions have bubbled up in response to the uncertainty, fear, and anger that the pandemic has made musicians feel. You might experience helplessness and discouragement, along with some physical ailments, including nausea, fatigue, insomnia, headaches, and muscle tension.
This pandemic has brought on an enormous amount of pain and fear among independent musicians. The particular challenge for musicians is for those who work from gig to gig, and their performances are their primary source of income and exposure.
Taking care of yourself and your health needs to be a priority for independent artists. You might question your decision to be a musician and experience a lot of insecurity. It is essential to care for your mental health as well as your physical health.
The following tips and techniques are some ways to help you cope and take care of yourself. Keep in mind that these techniques do not replace of a mental health professional.
ENGAGE YOUR FIVE SENSES
To help with your anxiety, it can be a good idea to wake up your senses. We all know the five basic senses of touch, smell, sight, sound, and taste. It can help to engage all of these in various ways to help keep your mind focused and calm.
Some ideas that you can work with include:
– Go outside and smell the roses – or some kind of flower/plant (getting fresh air helps too!)
– Touch your toes, or roll your shoulders
– Look around the room and acknowledge what you see, one thing at a time
– Listen to some music that helps boost your mood – this is great if you have a go-to song that always makes you feel good
– Write some of your own music to get your emotions out on paper
– Read an article about music, a favorite band, or a featured artist
– Watch your favorite music group or band performing live on television
You can engage in multiple activities to wake up those senses and put yourself in a calmer state. These are just some suggestions; the possibilities are endless.
MOVE YOUR BODY AND CHANGE YOUR MIND
Movement or exercise is an excellent option for helping to cope with feelings of stress and deal with muscle tensions. So stretch yourself out with a free Yoga video you can find on YouTube, dance around the room to your favorite song that gets your feet and legs moving, or just do a quick HIIT workout.
You can quickly refocus your energy while gaining the bonus of aiding your physical health by doing some exercise. Several workout apps offer free trials that you can download, or you can just as easily go out for a quick jog or a brisk walk. If you want, you can hold yourself more accountable with friends by doing it together through video chats so that you are sure to get in some much-needed movement every day.
BREATHING AND MEDITATION
When we feel panicked or worried, we tend to tighten and tense up our bodies in response. This is because our initial reaction to fear is that “fight or flight” response, so taking the time to breathe and acknowledge this within our bodies can help us to stay calm.
Breathe in through your nose, hold for a few seconds, and then breathe out from your mouth. You can also meditate and sit calmly with your eyes closed to help bring you into that meditative state. Some people may even turn to prayer as another way to help cope and breathe through anxious feelings.
Another form of meditation could be to pick up your instrument and start playing because sometimes playing or performing can help us remember to breathe. Uplifting your mood by making that change is an excellent way for musicians to remember what brings us joy – doing something that we love and our love for music.
CREATE CONNECTIONS ONLINE
Stay connected to the people in your life who matter to you, whether chatting on the phone or doing video chats, or emailing. Reach out to other musicians or even the ones in your group who can understand what you are going through. They may even be experiencing the same problems you are facing.
The critical takeaway here is not to let yourself feel alone. The feelings of isolation from the pandemic have been building, and for those of us without immediate family that lives with us, it can be more challenging to cope with those feelings of loneliness.
Reaching out to others who can not only listen but relate are great resources for helping you feel less alone. So anytime you start to feel overwhelmed, reach out – there are people that care about you and your wellbeing. The music teachers at Music To Your Home, NYC suggests different ways to connect through music in virtual settings. For example, you might look for school offering lessons to connect with others who play or utilize your own expertise in singing or playing to provide online classes to engage and grow your scope. Doing things together with others is one of the best ways to break those feelings of isolation and realize we are all in this.
TAKE A BREAK & PAMPER YOURSELF
The crucial part of doing any of these activities is so that you are taking a break from things that might be causing you those feelings of stress, anxiousness, or anger. Put your phone down if you see too many negative posts, turn off your television and computer, and disconnect yourself from the things that make you sad or upset to read and see.
Walking away and leaving things to rest is the best thing that you can do for yourself. Take a shower, give yourself a manicure, draw a bubble bath, find your favorite book to curl up with on the couch, or find some other activity that you can do to pamper yourself and take your mind off of the negative influences.
GET CREATIVE AND FIND ALTERNATE SOURCE OF INCOME
The last thing you can do for yourself is to dig in and become more creative during this time. Many independent musicians have pivoted their businesses to find creative alternatives to promoting and sharing their music with their fans.
Get your group together and make a virtual concert to bring in some income, selling virtual tickets. Develop masterclasses or group workshops to educate others within the music industry to bring out all of your achievements thus far and how you are continuing to keep music alive during these times. You can even compose your own original music and submit it to music blogs for feature articles or licensing agencies to be picked up for a project or an advertisement.
For many musicians, the fear centers around the ability to work – with all of these options, there are plenty of opportunities available for independent artists to engage and work. Don’t sell yourself that the only method of exposure is through live gigs – there are many ways to continue your work as a musician during this time.
Take care of your mental health by continuing to work, connecting with others, engaging your senses, and remembering to take a break when you need the rest. If you ever have any deeper concerns about coping and your health, be sure to reach out to a professional for further assistance.