7 Important Self-Care Tips for Struggling Songwriters and Musicians
As a basic white millennial bitch, “self-care” to me means painting my nails while watching Harlots on Hulu. But let’s peel away the commercialism and focus on self-care, specifically for those of us in the music industry.
I’m going to try all of these and I encourage you to do the same! Let’s care for ourselves and each other!
Self Care for Musicians
If you’re reading this, you’re either totally into the self-care hype (like me), or you avoided it as long as possible until you broke down and now you NEED help (also like me).
First, let’s acknowledge that musicians go through a lot. We pour our hearts and souls into our passion and creativity, often for little or no reward. We’re constantly stuck in a struggle to make better music, make more fans, win that Grammy, whatever our goal may be. Meanwhile. you’ve got many people telling you to give up your dreams, get a “real” job and forget the very thing that sustains you.
Here are some self-care tips that songwriters and musicians (and any other creatives) can use.
Here is my video on this if you prefer to watch (but there is different info in each so you can watch and read both!)
1). Do Something Non-Musical
I’m gonna go against the grain and say that maybe music isn’t what you need right now. If music is causing you stress, skip it. Do something else to reset your mind.
I know some musicians who will take a day or two and spend it in complete silence. I think that would drive me nuts, but if that works for you, go for it!
2). Get Organized
I can hear some of you groaning right now, but TRUST ME. Disorganization is a huge source of stress.
If you’re like me and love cleaning, this is your chance to really scrub those counters and make things sparkle.
If you’re on the messier side (or, no shame, a total slob), your task at hand: Organize ONE thing that’s driving you crazy. That drawer you can’t open or close because you have too much crap in there. That folder of song ideas that you haven’t actually combed through in years.
Doing just one small task will have multiple benefits: You’ll feel accomplished, you’ll feel like you have control over the situation (which might inspire you to get control over other situations), and you’ll be clean and organized, at least in your worst area of your house and life.
3). Go Against Your Instincts
Feel like staying in? Make plans with friends and go out. Tempted to meet up with your toxic frenemies for drinks? Stay in and reflect instead.
Now is NOT the time to do what you feel, because you feel terrible and gross and you’ll probably do something self-destructive. A lot of “self care” is just basically letting you off the hook and telling you to go ahead and indulge in your unhealthy habits. Break that cycle!
I’m a hermit introvert, so when I’m low I tend to hide myself further away. When I force myself out of bed and into the world, I’m reminded of how much I love the sunshine and the friendly cashier at the gas station.
If your typical coping method is to go out and socialize, maybe try the opposite. I’m not saying you can’t see friends, but this is all about trying things for yourself!
4). Watch a Documentary or Read a Biography
Pick a music artist and learn about them. I *guarantee* you’ll learn some new things, including all the tough times they went through and how they got through it. You’ll also learn about their songwriting style and maybe learn something new you can use! However, make sure you reflect on #1, because if music is what’s stressing you out then you shouldn’t do this one.
If you don’t want to think about music, any true story is usually uplifting. I just watched “Suffragette” the other day:
Just watching this made me realize that people have come a LONG way, and I’m glad I live on this side of history.
5). Go Outside
Musicians spend WAY too much time indoors. Dark studios, 12-hour days, and stressful situations lead to bad mental states.
If the weather isn’t ideal, just go out for a short bit. A quick walk is sometimes all you need (and all you can stand if you live in a frigid tundra like me). Seeing actual daylight will also help your brain register when it’s actually bedtime, which brings me to my next point:
6). Get Some (Quality, Correct) Sleep
This will mean different things for different people. If you are a raging insomniac like me, a nap during the day will mean you’ll be up all night and exhausted the next day. So, you’ll need to actually force yourself to stay awake until bedtime and get a solid 8-10 hours of sleep.
If, on the other hand, you sleep too much and tend to lie in bed until 4pm, this is not doing you any favors either. Remember how important sunlight is? (Here is the info if you don’t believe me). You don’t have to be a morning person, but try to force yourself into a better schedule. Make it a goal to be out of bed by like, noon to start. You can start slow, you don’t have to bolt out the door and go for a jog.
7). Take Care of Your Actual Physical and Mental Health
When was the last time you saw a doctor? Are you overdue on refilling your prescriptions? Have you tried calling your insurance to see what benefits they offer?
Doing this stuff is SO TOUGH for me. It’s also not optional, because I’m a Type 1 Diabetic. I have to force myself to do all of this and then reward myself for it later.
Musicians are some of the least healthy people around, especially when it comes to mental health. You owe it to yourself to call your doctor, make an appointment, get your refills, make sure you’re doing okay.
Self-care isn’t just fun and games. This is real, honest-to-god self CARE that will make sure your health comes first. You need to do this! You can also try alternative therapies if you think those will help. I tried a few and wrote about them here if you’re curious!
If this is overwhelming for you, I have a whole checklist to help you get started. It’s in my VIP library if you want to join us in the Melluminati.
Bonus Tip: Make Work-Life Balance a Priority
This is kind of an extra tip, because if you do this one often you won’t find yourself in dire need of self care often. I wrote a post on work-life balance for musicians here, but only you know what that balance means for you.