May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and to acknowledge that we’re taking some time to focus on the importance of mental health, finding balance between the hustle and rest, and researching ways musicians can help their mental health so we can help lower the statistics.
Your mental health matters
In a 2018 study, 50% of musicians reported symptoms of depression, compared with less than 25% of the general adult population. Nearly 12% reported having suicidal thoughts - almost four times the general population. According to a 2019 study, the numbers are darker, finding that 73 percent of independent musicians have battled stress, anxiety, and depression.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and to acknowledge that we’re taking some time to focus on the importance of mental health, finding balance between the hustle and rest, and researching ways musicians can help their mental health so we can help lower the statistics. While there are a number of great ways you can help boost your mental health, we’ve listed out five that we believe are the most essential to practice in your day-to-day.
5 MENTAL HEALTH MUSTS FOR MUSICIANS
PRACTICE MINDFULNESS EVERYDAY
This one may seem obvious, but it’s an essential mental health must that a lot of people neglect and push to the side. Anxiety stems from obsessive thinking about the future, while depression is a feeling triggered by obsessive thinking of the past. The fact of the matter is you’re here. Right now. The past is gone, and the future has yet to come, so no other moment in time truly matters because it’s ultimately out of your control. If you have racing thoughts and can’t seem to get out of your own head, try identifying 5 things as it appeals to each sense. What is something you see within your space? What does your space sound like? Smell like? Feel like? Observing and sitting mindfully in your surroundings is an easy way to bring yourself back into the present moment.
To assist you when practicing mindfulness, try out the HeadSpace app.
MAKE MUSIC JUST TO MAKE MUSIC
Not everything has to have a rhyme or reason, especially your art. Take detour off the grind train and remember that it’s okay to make music just to make music. When you spend all your time and energy making music for other’s, it’s easy to get lost and feel burnt out on your own craft. Lock your phone away, sit down, and spend some time each week gifting yourself with your own music. Experiment. Try out a different style. Sample one of your favorite songs. Do anything you want with YOUR music. As soon as you let go of the need to make music for others or for profit, you may surprise yourself with what you end up creating.
To help you make music in a distraction free setting, try out the app Offtime to temporarily eliminate phone alerts and messages.
Stay Connected With Others
Your support system is everything, and having somebody to talk to (whether that be in real life or virtually) is an important part of maintaining a solid mental well-being. Having an outside perspective and talking to your friends about areas of your life that are triggering bad feelings is a great way to look at the bigger picture and make necessary changes.
To stay connected in a fun, easy, and covid-safe way, try out the App Bunch with your friends.
Walk it Out
It’s time to kick yourself off the couch and simply walk it out. Going on walks is proven to improve your mood, increase your energy, and even boost creative thinking. Take it a step further and leave your phone at home or on airplane mode to completely unplug and let your imagination expand. Taking the time to stop and smell the roses could help inspire your next project.
To experience the benefits of walking, aim for 30 minutes of brisk walking or other moderate intensity exercise three-five days a week. You can also break it up into three 10-minute walks if you have a packed schedule.
To track your distance, pace, calorie burn, elevation, and more on your walks, try out the app MapMyWalk.
Remember to Breathe
Meditation is the new medication. A new study shows that people who engage in meditation for about 20 minutes report higher levels of happiness and decrease in anxiety compared to participants who just rested during the 20-minute time-span. Meditation is a catch all for both mental and physical health, helping people manage symptoms such as anxiety, depression, asthma, cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, and chronic pain.
For guided meditations, inspirational talks, and master classes, try out the app Breethe.
There are a number of resources available to help you and your journey to achieving mindfulness and better mental health. Check out some of our favorites:
Silence the Shame is a nonprofit organization that focuses on education and awareness around mental health. They aim to normalize the mental health conversation through wellness trainings, digital content, community conversations and crisis response trainings.
With over 99 years of supporting musicians, Music Minds Matter was created as a dedicated service for anyone working in the industry who is struggling to cope, or know someone who is. Their Music Minds Matter Counsellors are available at any time to listen, support, and help anyone in need.
If you’re looking for a one-size fits all solution for good mental health, then look no further than Moodfit. Voted the best overall mental health app of 2020 and 2021, Moodfit offers meditation tools, cognitive behavioral therapy, breathing exercises, and reports, and more. Make way to their website and try out Moodfit Premium for 30 days free to see what it’s all about.
Founded by the Recording Academy in 1989, MusiCares helps the humans behind music by providing a safety net of critical health and welfare services through addiction recovery services, health services, and human services that support basic living expenses.