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13 Tips for Combatting Overwhelm in the Music Industry

13 Tips for Combatting Overwhelm in the Music Industry

Our friends at Compassionate Muse a.k.a CoMuse offer a variety of mental health and wellness resources for Music and Tech businesses. From mindfulness sessions to professional coaching, and more, CoMuse strives to create a more empathetic workplace.

Work-life balance can feel like an uphill battle, and in the hustle-til-you-drop culture of the music industry, true balance seems even further out of grasp for mindful professionals. 

Although the past few years have been unprecedented and incredibly difficult, they’ve also exposed the level of burnout many of us have been operating on, forcing us to reimagine our approach to work, daily life, and where our priorities should lie.

This has ultimately resulted in more mindfulness and intention when it comes to energy, creativity, and giving ourselves the breaks we need before the candle starts burning at both ends. 

We’ve compiled this list of tips for mental health and wellness in the music industry – something every professional should take into consideration on a daily basis to nurture and develop self-care, mindfulness, and self-love.

1. Connect with Yourself & Others

  • Check in with yourself. The most valuable tip when it comes to mental health and wellness in music and beyond? Checking in with yourself. Whether that’s taking a few deep breaths, scanning your body for signs of anxiety or discomfort, or stretching, an honest, present check-in can do wonders for your wellness, and help you inform what next steps to take to ensure you’re in a good spot mentally, physically, and emotionally.
  • Check in with others. Sometimes, the best solution to feeling a little out of whack is to check in with those around you. Take a coffee break with a trusted colleague, phone a friend, or even tune into an online community that brings you comfort and re-centers you (like CoMuse). 
  • Identify daily positives. Many people around the world benefit from keeping a gratitude journal, but if you’re strapped for time and still want to take a beat for appreciation, identify a few positives from your day – even one standout moment that made you smile. 
  • Be kind. To yourself, and to others. It feels good to be/do good, and a little can really go a long way.

2. Utilizing Work Benefits for Your Benefit

  • Use your time off. It’s there for a reason. This helps you avoid burnout, refresh your mind, and return to work entirely rejuvenated.
  • Leave your work at work. The key to work-life balance? Never bringing work into your home. And for those who work from home, set clear boundaries for yourself and make sure to put your work down for the day when that limit has been reached. 
  • Know how to identify the need for a mental health day. PTO is wonderful, but there will be unpredictable days where you need a moment, regardless of whether or not you have vacation time in the bank. It’s important to identify these days and honor your needs if possible.
  • Take a walk. Stuck in an anxious rut staring at your screen? Get up and move around. 
  • Take your lunch breaks. Just as you should use up all of your vacation time, you should always take your lunch breaks. Working through lunch encourages unhealthy boundaries between work and self – take your time. The work isn’t going anywhere. 
  • Organize your workspace. A cluttered desk is the ultimate indicator of a cluttered mind, and taking a moment to organize your physical space can have a profoundly positive effect on your mental. 

3. Checking in With Your Body

  • Use an app. From meditation to yoga breaks to set timers for productivity versus downtime, there are an endless number of apps to utilize that are designed to help you prioritize your mental health. 
  • Laugh. It can be too easy to slip into excessive seriousness as a professional. It’s okay to laugh: at yourself, at what you’re doing, and at others (as long as it’s not at anyone’s expense). 
  • Pay attention to stress levels. It’s up to you to know yourself: your body, your mind, and what both of those things feel like when your stress levels are out of control. 

4. Communication-Based Tactics

  • Communicate your needs. It’s important to take breaks when you need them, but even more important to communicate that to those around you so they feel in the loop, and can offer you help if available. 
  • Seek treatment when needed. Sometimes, a 15-minute walk isn’t going to do anything for the mental state you’re in. If you’re stressed or anxious to a point where you don’t feel like you can handle it on your own, don’t be afraid to seek outside help. 
  • Put your phone down. Our society treats cell phones as an extra appendage, and it isn’t healthy. Make it a point to put your phone down throughout the day and get away from the constant onslaught of notifications. 

5. Focus on Bodily Health

  • Meditate. Whether it’s for five hours or five minutes, mindful meditation has the power to transform your entire day. 
  • Eat a healthy diet. Eating poorly can have tremendously bad effects on your physical, mental, and emotional health. Stay mindful of that and gravitate towards the foods that make you feel good. 
  • Raise your heart rate. Take a little time to exercise and clear your mind if needed: go for a jog, do a little yoga, or just get up and do a few jumping jacks at your desk. 
  • Rest. Conversely, recognize when you need to slow your heart rate down and relax for a minute.

6. Organize Your Mind

  • Set bite-sized goals for yourself. In a fast-paced industry, constant demands can easily result in anxiety and feeling like you have no control over your schedule. Take a beat to map out bite-sized goals and slowly work towards the bigger picture. 
  • Carve out time in your day for things you love to do. Play a game, watch a few minutes of your favorite show, draw, read a book, or eat a delicious meal. 

7. Don’t Underestimate Sunlight

  • Work in healthy lighting. Seasonal depression can be brutal, and not getting enough sunlight definitely doesn’t help your mental health. If you can expose yourself to some rays during the day, do it!
  • Go outside. A little fresh air can do wonders. 

8. Allow Creativity to Flow

  • Keep a journal. Regular journaling helps with memory, comprehension, and overall mental health and wellness.
  • Perform an act of kindness. Sometimes when you’re feeling down, the best thing you can do is an act of kindness for someone you care about. 
  • Get creative. Let go of the rules for a moment and tap into your imagination. 
  • Try something new. Getting out of your comfort zone every now and then is essential for a refreshed mind. 
  • Go to a live music show. Remind yourself what drew you to the industry in the first place – you never know when inspiration might strike.

9. Set Realistic Work Goals

  • Establish a routine. Similar to setting bite-sized goals, having a routine mapped out can help your mind let go of the stress and tap into productivity with ease. 
  • Have a meeting-free day. Meetings all day every day can be enough to make anyone’s head spin. Make sure to dedicate at least one day of your week to no meetings whatsoever, no matter what. 
  • Have a team-bonding experience. If you’re a manager, make sure to take your team out for some extracurricular fun, reminding them that they are valued, appreciated, and cared about as humans.  
  • Take a “news break.” The news cycle can be overwhelmingly depressing, and if you’re not in a great mental state, it can be detrimental to get wrapped up in the greater woes of the world. Take a break when you need it – the news will be there tomorrow. 

10. Marry Mental and Body Health

  • Create music. Whether or not you’re a musician yourself, your love of music is likely what drew you to the industry in the first place. If you’re stuck at work, you might benefit from letting loose and creating a beat to inspire your next approach. 
  • Take vitamins. Ensuring your body has all of the nutrients it needs is an essential first step for wellness. 
  • Make sure you get enough sleep. 8 hours a night should be your minimum daily goal. 
  • Work in a soundscape. Have soothing music on in the background while you work to encourage a peaceful and serene environment. 

11. Nurture Your Inner Self

  • Play. Tap into your inner child and do what makes you happy!
  • Talk to someone. Sometimes, you just need a little time to vent. Phone a friend, a therapist, or even your reflection in the mirror. 
  • Don’t compare yourself to others. It’s instinctual for us to compare ourselves to others, but this will only make you second-guess yourself and your own unique talents.
  • Identify and develop your strengths. Instead, focus on yourself and what you’re best at, working to develop those skills with gusto. 
  • Talk to yourself with kind language. We reflect our internal, and if we’re not speaking to ourselves kindly, positively, and with as much compassion as we approach others, it will bleed into every aspect of our lives. 
  • Learn from mistakes, and let them go. Mistakes happen. Instead of beating yourself up and holding onto the negative emotions, take the learning moment for what it is, and nothing more. 
  • Share your ideas. Have some ideas of your own for a more compassionate, health-forward environment? Share them with your colleagues and/or manager – you never know who you might be helping. 

12. Focus on Food Intake and Hydration

  • Have healthy snacks on hand. It’s important to take breaks to eat, but if you absolutely can’t, make sure you have healthy snacks at your desk for those days where you can’t tear yourself away. 
  • Hydrate. Have a water bottle next to you always – no exceptions!

13. Find a Balance Between Connection and You Time

  • Nurture your relationships. The relationships you have with your colleagues are just as important as the work you do together – if not more. 
  • Block off your WFH space after hours. Many of us are still working from home beyond lockdowns, and it can be very difficult to set boundaries. If you can block off your WFH space after hours by covering it with a wall divider or sheet so it’s literally out of sight, out of mind, do so. 
  • Turn off email notifications after hours. The emails will still be there in the morning. We promise.
  • Normalize not sharing your personal phone number with colleagues. It’s unfortunately become normalized to share our personal information with colleagues, but it’s time to set a new norm. Your personal contact information is precious, and it’s yours. Treat it as such. Of course, in some instances, answering your phone is a requirement for your position. If that’s the case, try setting a special “work” ringtone so you know how to differentiate between work and personal, and can answer accordingly based on what mode you’re in.
  • Stop punishing yourself. When working in a time crunch, it’s easy to tell yourself things like, “I’ll have fun when this is over.” That isn’t healthy, sustainable, or nice to you. Stop delaying gratification and forcing yourself to work in the midst of burnout – take the time you need.
  • Learn about your colleagues. Just as it’s imperative to know yourself and your limits, it’s important to know the same about your colleagues. This nurtures an environment of mutual respect and communication that will be positively reflected in your output. 
  • Share helpful tips with others. Don’t keep these wise words to yourself! Sharing mental health and wellness tips with others can not only help them see things in a new perspective, but in turn will reinstill those tips with you and encourage you to keep treating yourself with kindness, balance, and self-love. 

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