The global pandemic has taken its toll on many small businesses and individual owners.
Musicians have been one of the hardest hit groups since the music industry had to shut down live shows. As a result, they felt the struggle for their careers and their ability to perform.
Emotions boiled over in response to the uncertainty, fear and anger the pandemic has caused musicians to feel. You may experience helplessness and discouragement, as well as certain physical ailments, including nausea, fatigue, insomnia, headaches, and muscle tension.
This pandemic has caused tremendous pain and fear among independent musicians. The particular challenge for musicians is for those who work gig to gig, and their performances are their primary source of income and exposure.
Taking care of yourself and your health must 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 take care of your mental health as well as your physical health.
The following tips and techniques are ways to help you cope and take care of yourself. Keep in mind that these techniques are not a substitute for a mental health professional.
ENGAGE YOUR FIVE SENSES
To relieve your anxiety, it may be a good idea to awaken your senses. We all know the five basic senses of touch, smell, sight, hearing and taste. It can be helpful to engage them in different ways to help keep your mind focused and calm.
Here are some ideas you can work with:
– Go outside and smell the roses – or some kind of flower/plant (having some fresh air helps too!)
– Touch your toes or roll your shoulders
– Look around and acknowledge what you see, one thing at a time
– Listen to music that helps lift your mood – it’s great if you have a go-to song that always makes you feel good
– Write some of your own music to put your emotions on paper
– Read an article about music, a favorite band or a featured artist
– Watch your favorite band or band live on TV
You can engage in multiple activities to awaken these senses and put yourself in a calmer state. These are just a few suggestions; the possibilities are limitless.
MOVE YOUR BODY AND CHANGE YOUR MIND
Movement or exercise is a great option to help cope with feelings of stress and manage muscle tension. So stretch 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 getting the benefit of improving your physical health through exercise. Several workout apps offer free trials that you can download, or you can just as easily go out for a brisk jog or brisk walk. If you want, you can empower yourself more with your friends by doing it together via video chats so that you are sure to get the movement you need every day.
BREATHING AND MEDITATION
When we feel panicked or worried, we tend to constrict and tense our bodies in response. This is because our initial reaction to fear is this “fight or flight” response, so taking time to breathe and recognize this in our body can help us stay calm.
Inhale through your nose, hold for a few seconds, then exhale through your mouth. You can also meditate and sit calmly with your eyes closed to help you enter this 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 this change is a great way for musicians to remember what brings us joy – doing something we love and our love for music.
CREATE ONLINE CONNECTIONS
Stay in touch with the people in your life who matter to you, whether that’s chatting on the phone, video chatting, or sending emails. Reach out to other musicians or even those in your band who can relate to what you are going through. They may even experience the same issues that you are experiencing.
The critical point here is not to let yourself feel alone. Feelings of isolation from the pandemic have built up, and for those of us without immediate family who live with us, it can be harder to deal with those feelings of loneliness.
Reaching out to others who can not only listen but also understand are great resources to help you feel less alone. So whenever you start to feel overwhelmed, reach out – there are people out there who care about you and your well-being. Music teachers at Music To Your Home, NYC suggest different ways to connect through music in virtual environments. For example, you can search for a school offering classes to connect with other gamers or use your own singing or gaming expertise to offer online classes to engage and expand your reach. Doing things with others is one of the best ways to break through that feeling of isolation and realize that we’re all in it.
TAKE A BREAK AND SHOWER
The crucial part of any of these activities is taking a break from the things that might be causing you those feelings of stress, anxiety, or anger. Turn off your phone if you see too many negative messages, turn off your television and computer, and disconnect from things that make you sad or upset to read and see.
Walking away and letting things rest is the best thing you can do for yourself. Take a shower, get a manicure, draw a bubble bath, find your favorite book to snuggle up on the couch, or find another activity you can do to pamper yourself and distract yourself from negative influences.
GET CREATIVE AND FIND AN ALTERNATIVE INCOME SOURCE
The last thing you can do for yourself is dig in and get more creative during this time. Many independent musicians have pivoted their business to find creative alternatives to promoting and sharing their music with their fans.
Get your band together and host a virtual concert to generate revenue by selling virtual tickets. Develop masterclasses or group workshops to educate others within the music industry to bring out all of your accomplishments so far and how you continue 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 selected for a project or advertisement.
For many musicians, the fear revolves around the ability to work – with all of these options, there are plenty of opportunities for freelance artists to get involved and work. Don’t sell yourself that the only method of exposure is through live gigs – there are plenty of ways to pursue 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 a rest. If you ever have deeper concerns about coping and your health, be sure to contact a professional for help.