How To Maintain A Musician’s Mental Health

How to maintain a musician's mental health

Mental health is an important topic these days as many people are feeling burnt out in society. In the world of music there is a lot of practice, money, time, and stress whether you are working in the field or just a hobbyist. It’s common for people to hit walls, give up, and drop out so to avoid that we need to take care of ourselves. While this isn’t exactly specifically a guitar lesson, in this post we will discuss issues that effect all musicians, regardless of instrument. Here are some tips on how to maintain your mental health as a musician.

Find Others To Play With

This online world has led to a lot of social isolation so meeting up with other musicians can be beneficial to mental health. Not only will it help you socially it will be great for learning new songs, styles, and methods like a different way to play the pentatonic scale for example. Local jams, bands, and workshops may have potential for finding others to play with. 

Search online in your local area to find a group of likeminded musicians and who knows where the collaborations could take you.

Work Hard And Actually Play

Many people are facing mental health struggles with hobbies because they do not have enough time to put into it. In this modern world we are constantly busy and distracted to the point that music taken often take a backseat. We've seen Guitar chord progressions, melodies, dynamics, and more have all gone downhill because less people actually play music and rely too much on machines.

Practice your voice, instrument, or production and keep up with advancement. At the same time that you don’t want to burnout you do need to have serious motivation to grow in music. Just a few guitar finger exercises every day or every other day could be enough. Far too many take the easy way out as practice is hard, keep your eyes on the prize. There will be pain and heartache in your music journey, hard work will prepare you for it.

Play A New Instrument Or Genre 

Sometimes our mental health ruts aren’t depression or anxiety, they are just from a lack of creativity. Over time repetitive practice can fry your ability to think in a new way. When that happens we need to jog the brain with a new mode of thought. Find a new or used instrument and start learning to play it.

It can be from the same instrument family or something totally new, but it shouldn’t be another guitar or synth if you already have one. Get something that will challenge you or allow you to write songs from a different vantage point. This creative boredom is how many musicians find out they are multi-talented.

Even changing up your genre can be an easy way to add a breath of fresh air to your mindset. Instead of focusing on the pentatonic scale, try taking guitar solos using only the blues scale for a while. This will force you to shift your thinking around the instrument and might help you understand it even better.

Are you serious about learning how to play the guitar? Check out Guitar Tricks for the most comprehensive guitar lessons online.

Exercise And Eat Right

This is the main health advice for all people and aspects of life and it may be harder than ever for a musician. As a touring musician you probably know about the challenges of making healthy food choices whilst on the road and you might enjoy the occasional not so healthy alcoholic drink. Historically musicians, singers, songwriters, and composers can have wild lives and bad habits, but it is healthiest to avoid that. 

We all know many horror stories of famous rock stars like the “27 Club,” it is no secret that the lifestyle is hard on the body. Drink water, eat right, and exercise to counteract as much of that as possible. And remember you don’t have to go overboard or never enjoy life, but life can’t always be a party.

Sleep And Rest

Along with playing, practicing, and maybe partying it will be hard to get the right amount of sleep, especially those who are up at late hours. Your body clock can get out of whack and little sleep is a major cause of damage both mentally and physically. Nearly every animal on Earth sleeps so don’t think you can get by without it.

Besides the proper sleep we also need to rest our muscles and minds so that the practice we do will be effective. If you play constantly you will wear yourself down. If you truly love music you can read about it and listen to new stuff in your spare time but take time away from physical practice.

Go Outside, Travel, And Get Offline

Your budget will determine where and how far you can go but any outdoor activity will be as helpful as exercise, water, and proper diet. If you go somewhere new it will lead to different interactions and new ideas for riffs, songs, or lyrics. If you look at the lives of many songwriters they often got around in their movement, new people bring about a variety of emotions!

But most of all just get offline and see the world around you, even around the block is better than social media. The online world is useful for some things and learning but there is a limit and most of us surpass it daily. Turn the phone or computer off and look at something else.

Assess Your Reason For Music 

A lot of people these days have attempted to make a living in music, the industry is incredibly saturated. If you are trying to promote an album or sell your music you may be burned out as it is a crazy grind. Not many musicians are fortunate to earn a full-time income from music, so if that's your goal, be prepared to put the hard work in now.

Instead, you may decide to keep music as a hobby and healthy escape from the world. If you want to put an album on Spotify or sell some stock audio that’s fine, but do not sink endless money or time into the success of such music. If fame or riches never occur you can still love the hobby of music forever.

Don’t Compare Yourself

Whether you are just a musician for a hobby or a living, comparing yourself to others is a sure ticket to poor mental health and failure. It’s fine to have heroes, collaborators, or peers that encourage and inspire you, in fact that is necessary. However once you start to compare it becomes a battle of self-loathing and maybe jealousy.

The healthiest musicians and often those who succeed are those who just do their own thing. This is a subjective art where you have to connect with the audience for it to work so not being true to yourself will be a disaster. As you study music it’s ok to first mimic and copy but soon enough you need to put your own personality as a stamp on your creations.

Most of the advice for maintaining your health as a musician is pretty simple and straightforward. The challenge is creating healthy habits, structuring your practice and keeping motivated. Our healthiest option is to take small steps and improve what we can. Just remember the joy that music brings you and keep your focus on that. When stress is too much and you want to quit there will always be a song to pull you back!


About the Author

Shawn Leonhardt is a writer for Guitar Tricks and 30 Day Singer. He has produced songs, written T-shirt slogans, and provided voiceovers. He specializes in teaching songwriting, lyrics, and music theory.

Mental Health
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