In these modern times, it is a very well known fact that being a musician or a record producer, is largely an isolated project at home these days. We are more often than not in our studios buzzing away until all hours making music. This is why we can sometimes be prone to get moments of depression, lack of self worth and not being as good as our contemporary's etc.
These are the areas that are very common among creative people and can be very detrimental to our mindsets if we do not either seek help or try to overcome these thoughts with tactics or ways to steer clear of any self doubt that might cripple our production flow.
Mental health is something that is thrown around alot these days from athletes to politicians all expressing how their health is suffering from their job. So it is no different to musicians of all types, so what are some of the ways in which we can overcome or at the very least find techniques in which we can keep the demons at bay and make more progress in the studio.
I have been producing for almost 30 years now from small bedroom studio set ups to working in windowless basement studios such as the legendary Olympic studios in London. Those long hours pouring over the same grooves and vocals etc can seriously mess with your head as you leave the studio into the daylight and not know what time it is.
But mostly these days we can choose when we work on a piece of music and the need to be locked away in a dark recording studio is becoming less and less nowadays. But the tiredness can still wreak havoc on the mind especially if you are a self critical musician like me or you fear others hearing your work until it is absolutely ready and polished. You may end up pouring for hours over your work and neglecting your own well being.
But whatever type of musician you are it is always good to remember to get away from the PC or the synth rack and reconnect with yourself and the world around you so you don't end up being too locked into your music and making that the focal point of your life and then letting everything else crash around you. Believe me I have done it. your mindset and your health are key to being a good musician & producer anyway and without them you and your music are nothing.
So here are several ways to clear the mind and take better care of yourself as a
1. Walk Away
Always remember to take a break from the music, and by this I mean actually get out of the house/studio. Leave your phone at home also and take a long enough walk outside preferably as close to nature as you can. So by a canal or through the fields, but if you live in an urban area, go to the local park and try and get some nature in your lungs.
Remember to leave that phone at home also and clear your head completely of all digital noise. I often go for a walk by my canal which I am lucky enough to live near and it really does help the senses become grounded again. It is an obvious thing but it is also the most effective way to refresh your mind and take away the thoughts and pressures of recording.
But then again if you are feeling pressured to record music maybe you should stop as music should be fun and not a chore.
If you cant get out of the studio/house etc, then set aside 15 minutes to meditate between recording sessions. This is something I began doing a while back and only for 15 minutes I found that when you use the right program it really helps soothe your soul into a relaxed state which you can come out again fully recovered for another session.
You don't even have to pay for them, there are many good short ones on YouTube, you just have to find them and make sure that the person who is delivering the meditating has a voice which is perfect for you.
But believe me it really does help drain away the nagging thoughts and perhaps ear worms you might get after a while of recording. The video below is one that I use often as it is a no nonsense back to basics video which is just the right length.
I know its difficult for some but you can really get rid of negative thoughts and patterns if you try running. Even just do a 5 minute jog around the block or even a speed walk would do the trick. I tend to make music in the mornings when I can and always find it hard to wake up my body, but if I go for a brisk run, my bones and head soon wake up and the adrenaline kicks in.
I get back after the run, shower and shave then hit the coffee and this gives me that much needed positive boost to fire up the studio and get to work.
4. Connect With Outsiders
If you tend to spend most of your time with other musicians or most of your circle are music fans, then maybe connect with someone outside of the musical sphere once a week or more. Take your mind away from all musical elements and people who are involved in the same game as you, and try and find time to spend with a family member or friend who isn't that into music.
This can be a great way to recharge the batteries as spending time with people who are not interested in musical techniques or chords or how that band you like wrote that song you wished you had etc is a great way to cut off from the pressure of your production.
It helps in the sense that listening to other peoples lives and stories can give your wandering mind a rest from all the noise that you create inside it after a heavy session in the studio.
Lets face it if we talk about the job all the time then job becomes us and then we become boring, not only to ourselves but to those around us, even our fellow musicians.
Lets face it most musicians and producers etc are self indulgent ego maniacs and we have all been guilty of it at some point but make sure you become aware of it if you feel that music talk is all consuming. Get away from it and go visit that aunt you haven't seen in months. it will be a good way to cut ties for a while.
If you are always listening to music and its always playing on your phone or in the car etc. because you absolutely love it, that's fine, but there must be a cut off when you have no music on at all. So try and find a pod cast to listen to that is non musical.
Something like a mindset mentor cast or a comedy show. Something to get you away from music which is another media format but listening to other voices talk about things other than music can be really good to clear the mind. i tend to listen to relationship podcasts and how to adapt stoicism.
I tend to find these helpful in gaining clarity over myself for self improvement and to adapt some of those elements into my music making sessions.
So overall find a medium that will take your ears away from music and into a different form of media,culture arts etc. It works. Also reading books too can help with the break, but don't read autobiographies of Rock stars or other musical print, choose a novel or a self help book to reset your position.
Are you a night owl producer? or are you a day time one? Usually alot of our inspiration comes at the end of the day and can often kick in around 10.30 pm. For me this was often the case and I would beaver away until just around midnight and then rise again at 7am for the day job.
This is something I have always managed to maintain and not go deep into the dark hours past 1am as this can mess with your body clock and become a problem with your physical health also.
So try and make sure you don't spend all night producing and all day sleeping. Have a set time to limit your production hours and get the rest you need to tackle the track again the following day with out the trouble of exhaustion
7. Positive Affirmations
It is easy to become negative if you have spent hours by yourself producing music and being locked into a session without any outside influence. I have been a negative complainer for years and can automatically put myself and my work down.
I have many times over the years talked myself out of a project or a gig for fear of not feeling good enough. It can be a demon that can cripple your ambition. However in recent years I have learned to overcome these thoughts and to go with the flow and release my music even though I may dislike it in a few months time.
I have learned that if you hold on to perfection you will never do anything or release that track which will then prevent you from becoming what you want to be.
So try and develop a positive self image and lose the negative thoughts and limiting beliefs about yourself. In those moments of self doubt, remind yourself of the things you have achieved so far and the works that you are proud of and if you are struggling to put out new content then re-post some of your older music on your social media just to keep your name out there.
Try and practice daily reminders that you are good enough and on the bad days just tell yourself that maybe not today but tomorrow will be a more productive day.
Try and cement the belief system in your head that no matter what problems we face there will always be negative experiences around us and in our own heads.
It is how to decide to process and regulate those thoughts. When we focus on the negative we are giving away our power to something unworthy and therefore we are allowing ourselves to not see anything good. So when the dark rises, give yourself credit for the good things that you have done and get out of the studio and into the world for a walk, a run, see a relative or friend outside of the music business and if you can not get out, go into a different space in the house and meditate for a while and clear the brain of noise and chords, just for a little while and see how much more productive you will be if you follow some or all of these tips above. Peace.
if you are struggling with any issue as a musician and want to reach out for further professional support then click the link below for links on support and help within the music industry.