Making music and staying committed to your dreams is a difficult task and it’s even more difficult when your bills are due, and you have to work full time to pay for your ambitions.
Staying positive when it feels as though there is little return can be an upward battle.
Social media can also add to that negative headspace, sometimes all you are looking for is some positive interaction from your followers, but none of them like or repost your work and you end up scrolling and comparing your journey to others and start feeling like you are not good enough.
Many artists battle to stay mentally healthy, experiencing many challenges across a spectrum, anxiety, loneliness, and depression are reported in artists at a higher rate than other professions.
Some of our favorite musicians have spoken about their struggles with mental illness publicly like Zane Lowe, Billie Eilish, Mariah Carey, Donny Hathaway, Sinéad O’Connor, and Barbra Streisand, to name a few!
The relationship between musicians and mental illness is ironic as music has the ability to heal, soothe, comfort, and unite people!
But the pressures of making music and working in the music industry can often trigger mental health issues to surface.
Working as an independent artist takes a lot of self-belief and a lot of work, let’s face it you are often riding on the coattails of faith and hope, and your career tests both!
There can be a lot of rejection in the early days and that can make one question themselves and their art. Believing in yourself despite critique and the repeated “no’s” can be like trying to stand firm in the middle of a bouncy castle when there are ten kids jumping around you, you’re probably going to fall at least once or twice. Not knowing what advice is good advice and what compromise is one compromise too many, can bring about self-doubt. Once you start second-guessing yourself that can manifest into you representing yourself in ways which are no longer conducive to what makes you uniquely you.
When you want something so bad you can put excessive weight on it and carrying that extra baggage can slow you down, make you tired and can make you unhappy. All them bags will eventually get in your way. – Word to Ms. Badu!
As it’s mental health awareness month, let’s talk about it!
Let’s talk about the sordid side of an industry which provides a product that we all love and how as we try and navigate through, we need to ensure we look out for our minds and sanctity whilst simultaneously chasing our dreams.
First of all, mental illness is no joke! If you are really struggling then please get help, there are services made for exactly this. Depression can be like drowning under water and no matter how hard you try to swim upwards, you can never quite get to the air, so you never get to breathe.
Nobody should suffer alone, there is no shame in reaching out and saying, “I need help”. Sometimes we do not have the tools or capacity to take us from one place to the next and a helping hand can change that.
We are not supposed to free fall through life, the wind should not be constantly taken out of you.
So, if you are struggling then your GP is often a great first place to turn to but there are a number of alternative professional services that can help with that and we have listed some music orientated services at the end of this article and in the UK every council offers free talking therapy and you can refer yourself!
The positive with it being more common amongst musicians is that we should be pioneering having no stigma around experiencing mental illness of any kind. Some of the most amazing work has been produced by people who have recognized their own times of challenges.
We have put together some activities that you can add to your daily routine to support you in keeping your mind healthy;
Being mindful is a huge buzz word right now, with everyone and their mother telling us to be mindful, once you understand the practice you can easily incorporate it into your daily routines.
Being mindful helps with stress and allows us to observe what is going on, on the inside of our bodies.
And there are apps to help you get started as well as 8-week online courses (Groupon actually has some great deals on a few right now!)
Although mindfulness is a form of meditation, there are so many other ways of meditating!
Meditation is such another simple addition to your daily routine, taking as little as 5mins a day to center your thoughts helps with keeping the inner peace.
And there are some wonderful apps that help you with just this through guided and un-guided meditation.
Have one meaningful conversation a day
Life can get hectic, scheduling one meaningful conversation a day is important. Call up your friends or family, share and talk about something real. Happy people have more meaningful conversations, even if it’s not you sharing by simply hearing about what is happening in the life of others can help you get your life into perspective, by making you come outside of your own thoughts.
I’m sure we have all been there, you’re feeling down and unmotivated and so you stay in bed, possibly with the curtains closed listening to sad slow music and someone suggests that you get up and exercise. And at that moment that is the furthest thing in your mind. But do it! Exercise releases happy chemicals in the brain and can be exactly the cure you need to take you out of your funk. By incorporating at least 5 minutes of exercise a day you are releasing hormones into your body which can make you feel better.
Disconnecting from your phone.
Scheduling some downtime from your phone daily shouldn’t be as hard as it is, but for a lot of us, disconnection can feel like losing an arm. But constant connection and accessibility are not conducive to a healthy mental state. Switching off is important!
Hopefully, if you incorporate some of these you will start to feel more tranquil and at peace and try to not be so hard on yourself.