It sure is a tough time for everyone at the moment (sending virtual hugs), and it’s not any different for artists and musicians. In fact, in a recent study, 73% of independent musicians have said that they have experienced mental health problems in relation to their music creation. And that’s when there ISN’T a global pandemic going on.
You may find that the added stress of this pandemic is really bringing those mental health issues to the surface. You may feel like you are no longer able to cope or stay in control. And a lot of us may use going out and socialising as a coping mechanism for our anxiety, or perhaps rely on gigging for income, which adds an added strain when taken away. The world is in a state of flux, and the future is uncertain.
But what is certain, is that you’re not alone and we’re here to support you and all our artists. We want you to know that it’s okay to not be okay. Things will get better and we’re here to help. That’s why in this post we’re going to give you some resources to help keep your mental health in shape, as well as our top tips for keeping your mind healthy during isolation.
Mental health resources for musicians
Music Industry Therapists & Coaches (MITC) have launched a free guide specifically for artists and music professionals. It covers topics from breathing-techniques to anxiety information and support.
Music Minds Matter is a free helpline, started by the nonprofit Help Musicians UK. Operating 24/7, it aims to provide a caring ear for all of those in the music industry who are struggling with mental health problems. They offer emotional support, free counselling and CBT, and advice. They also signpost to other services such as debt and legal advice, as well as access to Help Musicians UK grants.
Contact them at MMM@helpmusicans.org.uk.
And read here for Help Musicians UK’s latest advice on coronavirus,
Music Support is a charity founded and run by people from the UK music industry, who are all in recovery themselves – from mental health, to addiction issues. They offer a personal and confidential support service for any individual in any area of the UK music industry suffering from mental, emotional and behavioural health disorders.
You can call their helpline on 0800 030 6789, 9am-9pm on weekdays, and 10am-8pm on weekends.
General mental health resources
Mind is a mental health charity that has been established for over 70 years. They say “we won’t give up until everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets support and respect.”…“We’ll listen, give you support and advice, and fight your corner.”
You can contact them for help via email email@example.com, or text 86463. Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm.
Public Health England’s Every Mind Matters website includes new NHS expert tips and advice on looking after mental wellbeing and supporting your family and loved ones during this time.
UK Charity, Mental Health Foundation has a great page specifically on how to look after your mental health during the Coronavirus outbreak with useful articles from living with the pandemic if you have existing mental health problems to finances, housing and employment worries.
SANE is a UK charity that offers emotional support and information to anyone affected by mental illness via:
A national out-of-hours helpline that provides emotional support, guidance and information to anyone affected by mental illness.
You can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Textcare is a confidential service designed to provide emotional support and connection, with bespoke one-way messages.
The online community, available 24 hours, is a safe space where people can share their feelings and experiences.
Samaritans are a charity aimed at providing emotional support for anyone who is struggling to cope, at risk of suicide or under emotional distress. Samaritans are there for you, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
You can call them for free on 116 123 as well as check out their resources on coronavirus.
There are a few funds and grants around at the moment for musicians:
- Spotify Covid-19 Music Relief
- Arts Council Funding
- Help Musician’s Do It Differently Fund
- Musician’s Union Coronavirus Fund
Our top tips for staying mentally healthy
Incorporate daily movement into your routine. Find some form of exercise to do everyday that you enjoy from running, to virtual yoga classes, to dancing whilst doing the dishes. It may be hard to motivate yourself to do this if you’re feeling low but releasing those hormones that make you feel better is EXACTLY what you need.
Pause, when you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed or anxious, and take six deep breaths. Not one, but six. Research has found that as little as six deep breaths can lower your blood pressure and bring you into a more relaxed state. There are a tonne of mindfulness and breathing exercises apps you can download to your phone and get a little bit of zen wherever you are.
Know that during this time your thoughts might be heightened. Your emotions may be stronger. This is not just ok, but it’s totally normal. Take some time to sit with these emotions as if we were tending to a small child that needed some love and attention. You deserve it.
Lack of sleep doesn’t just affect your mental health, but your immunity as well, which is super important right now. It’s also just as important to make sure you get quality sleep. If you incorporate all the things listed above, your sleep will improve. We promise.
Sun, sun, sun.
Just ten minutes of sun a day, especially in the morning, boosts your Vitamin D level which will improve your mental health and your sleep. And even if the sun is not shining, you still can absorb those important vitamins, and reap the benefits.
Limit social media and news.
Limit your social media use for non-music purposes. Scrolling through Instagram and Twitter feeds etc can be mentally draining, and can affect your sleep if done late at night.
And limit your amount of news consumption. Reading the news on the constant can really affect your anxiety. How many times a day do you need to consume the news in order to be well informed? 10 minutes or 2 hours?
Utilise your online presence.
As EVERYONE’s online at the moment, this is your chance to push out as much content as you can. This could be new music, live streams or even gigs on your doorstep/in your garden!
As the saying goes, a problem shared is a problem halved. Stay connected with your loved ones, but also your fans and other musicians. And if you haven’t already, join our Creators United Facebook Group, a group for YOU to interact, share and talk to us and one another.
(It’s also important to make sure you find that balance between being connected and having some YOU time away from your phone!)
Use music as an output for your feelings and emotions. Express yourself and don’t hold back. Experiment, explore new avenues and even try something new. Even if it’s to just bring you joy!
Creators who created in the face of crisis
Some of the most iconic people in our culture created during and after hardship.
Shakespare wrote three of his greatest tragedies in isolation during the bubonic plague!
The artist behind famous The Scream overcame the Spanish Flu.
Vera Lynn’s version of ‘We’ll Meet Again’ became one of the most famous wartime songs.
Walt Disney came down with the Spanish Flu in 1918 and witnessed firsthand suffering from the illness and the destruction of war. Ten years later, he created Mickey Mouse.
Finally, we’d like to share this quote with you:
“Anxiety happens when you think you have to figure out everything all at once. Breathe, you’re strong. You got this. Take it day by day.”
Be kind to yourself. This too shall pass.