InstituteEvents9th November 2020As England enters its first full week of a second lockdown, we share some advice that might help maintain positive mental health – particularly for those in the music industry who have been hit hard by the disruption of lockdown. As well as exploring what we’ve learned from the first lockdown, we revisit some of the tips that the Abbey Road team, including Dr Claire Renfrew, shared earlier in the year for positive mental health and wellbeing, as well as the emotional, professional and financial support that's available to the creative community.For much of 2020, there has been talk of ‘the new normal’ and ‘when we get back to normal’, but these terms can cause anxiety in themselves, so a better approach can be to live in the ‘now’. Learning to be more present in the ‘now’ and exploring mindfulness can be a genuine help.
Did we set ourselves unrealistic goals for lockdown? Did we create unnecessary pressure and stress for ourselves? While lockdown can be a good time for personal growth, such as learning something new (whether an instrument, production tool or technique), it’s important to set achievable targets so you can monitor progress and there’s a chance to reward yourself for each step forward. Be kind to yourself.
Those who already experience anxiety, depression and stress in their lives may feel overwhelmed with the avalanche of information from media and beyond. Even if you don’t usually experience any form of mental unease, it might be something you begin to feel due to the lack of control that we’re all experiencing right now and the inability to make concrete plans for the future.
Lack of control can make us feel like we have failed in some way, so it’s important to accept that we cannot control everything that is happening around us.
It’s essential that we:
• recognise that we aren’t alone – everyone is experiencing unease of some form
• talk about how we feel – to friends and family, and seek support and therapy if things get too much
• create a plan and routine for each day, so there is some structure and purpose: set yourself small goals
• take breaks (if we’re able to work from home) and limit screen time
• step outside and exercise or try a relaxation technique
• find time to switch off and limit our exposure to news and social media, rather than endlessly tracking it
• look after our health by taking time to eat well and ensure good sleep
• make time for something we enjoy or try a new creative outlet such as drawing or writing
With this in mind, Record Union have launched The Wellness Starter Pack which is an online mental health resources kit for musicians https://thewellnessstarterpack.com/. The pack was created by a group of experts to help musicians maintain positive mental health and wellbeing. One frequent question that people are asking is ‘how do we gain control?’. We are unable to control the world around us and even control our own movements outside of the home. However, we are in control of what we do within the home and can attempt to focus on our own self-care and the importance of it. Self-care strategies are pivotal during this time as they give us routine and structure.
Exercise & NutritionExercise is essential for the body and the brain as it releases endorphins which trigger positive feelings within the body. It’s also a good distraction from what is currently happening in the world and can help improve your overall confidence. Try https://yogawithadriene.com/ for some free yoga for all levels. In terms of nutrition, the reality of being at home more frequently brings both positives and negatives. The temptation to always be looking inside the fridge for your next snack is there more often than before. The main key to healthy eating is self-discipline. Try to stock-up on healthy snacks such as fruit, vegetables and lean proteins – and drink plenty of water. It’s worth considering making your own healthy meals and snacks, such as the nutritional recipes found here: https://madeleineshaw.com/recipes/.
Meditation & MindfulnessIncorporating meditation and focused breathing into your day can drastically reduce stress and anxiety levels. It can also increase physical capacities and enhance cognitive functioning – improving general health. Additionally, it can enhance the ability to deal with illness as it can help patients to focus less on pain, therefore improving quality of life. There are numerous free apps out there that can help take us on our mindfulness journey:
Playing music with others can contribute to feelings of social inclusiveness in individuals and be of strong benefit. Taking part in shared musical activities can enhance communication skills and offer a collective identity for those who share the musical activity together. However, whilst in lockdown, how can we still jam, write or record a song together as seamlessly as possible? The team over at Abbey Road Red have listed some of the most exciting technologies for online music creation and collaboration, which should give you plenty of options to choose from.
Songwriting aids emotional processing and regulation. It can increase learning, self-expression and create connections with past experiences and present feelings. Like many artists, Ed Sheeran has previously described his songwriting as a form of therapy “Anytime I’ve felt low, the one thing that picks me up is writing a song about it. As soon as it’s out of me in a song, I kind of move on.” Songwriting is not only for musicians; anyone can use writing as a method of expression and a form of emotional release. Try https://www.wordpalette.io/ to get started and if you are feeling confident enough to share your writing then https://songspace.com/ is a useful tool
What other support is available for the creative community?Although we are ‘socially distancing’ this is in a physical sense and we can take this as an opportunity to come closer together emotionally. Know that you are not alone, and we are all sharing this experience together. If you are feeling isolated, then it is essential to communicate and talk about how you may be feeling to others.
We have condensed some of the information that is out there and outlined some companies that may be able to help you emotionally, professionally and financially during this time. Below is a list of companies that offer support to individuals across the creative community:
Help Musicians UK – Music Minds MattersOperating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Music Minds Matter is a support line and service for the whole UK music community. If you want someone to talk to, or even explore avenues for ongoing support, get in touch, anytime. They're here to help: 0808 802 8008. Read more at their dedicated website: musicmindsmatter.org.uk
Music SupportMusic Support is a registered charity founded and run by people from the UK music industry, for individuals in any area of the UK music industry suffering from mental, emotional and behavioural health disorders (including but not limited to alcohol and drug addiction). You can contact them on 0800 030 6789 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more at: https://www.musicsupport.org/
Musicians UnionThe Musicians Union is a globally respected organisation which represents over 32,000 musicians working right across the music industry. As well as negotiating on behalf of musicians with all the major employers in the industry; they provide advice, services and assistance tailored to each individual member. They are behind every musician – whether you are full time, part time, self-employed or a student musician. Contact them on 020 7582 5566 or info@theMU.org. More information is available at: https://www.musiciansunion.org.uk/
British Association for Performing Arts MedicineThe British Association for Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM) is a healthcare charity giving medical advice to people working and studying in the performing arts. BAPAM help individuals overcome (and preferably avoid) work-related health problems and are dedicated to sharing knowledge about healthy practice. They supple free clinics, resources, a directory of practitioners, healthy performances events and training alongside performing arts medicines training for health professionals. BAPAM also support research into all aspects of health and wellbeing in the performing arts. They can be found here: https://www.bapam.org.uk/index.html and contacted by phone 020 7404 5888 or email email@example.com.
StagehandStagehand is the original live production welfare and benevolent fund. As well as their Mental Health First Aid Training Fund, designed to offer subsidised training for mental health first aiders, they have launched a dedicated Covid-19 Crew Relief Fund. https://www.stagehand.org.uk/
BectuBectu is the union for creative ambition. They represent over 40,000 staff, contract and freelance workers in the media and entertainment industries. Their members work in non-performance roles in broadcasting; film and cinema; digital media; independent production; leisure; IT and telecoms, and theatre and the arts. They will support members when something goes wrong at work and will stand up for their members rights and protect their jobs. You can find them at www.bectu.org.uk or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM)The ISM is the UK’s professional body for musicians and a nationally recognised subject association for music. Since 1882, they are dedicated to promoting the importance of music and protecting the rights of those working in the music profession. The ISM support almost 10,000 members across the UK and Ireland with our unrivalled legal advice and representation, comprehensive insurance and specialist services. Their members come from all areas of the music profession and from a wide variety of genres and musical backgrounds. As well as working musicians, their members also includes part-time and full-time students and retired musicians. They campaign tirelessly in support of musicians' rights, music education and the profession as a whole. They are a financially independent not-for-profit organisation with no political affiliation. This independence allows them the freedom to campaign on any issue affecting musicians. More information can be found here: https://www.ism.org/ and they can be contacted on 020 7221 3499 or at email@example.com.
If you are experiencing any difficulties there are numerous companies who are able to help. Reach out to them, they are there to support you.