Throughout your music career and in life you will be forced to deal with multiple emotions. Hopefully most of those are positive ones. However, the ones that will be the hardest will be the negative ones. You are human and you are not alone. There are ways to deal with these temporary hurdles and ways to come out the other side stronger and able to take on more as you move forward in life. This month’s post is going to help you recognize some of the ways humans deal with stress and other taxing feelings, while also managing your emotions to stay focused on your career.
Originally I had another post planned for this month, but very recently I have been “punched in the gut” more than once with issues very close to home. While I was finding out less than stellar news, I was in the middle of mixing my new album and playing a bunch of gigs. All while traveling through different states than the one I reside in. So not only was I hearing bad news while in the middle of working, but I wasn’t even home to “deal” with it. This post isn’t going to give you the magic fix to be able to go through life without any lows, but rather ways to persevere when you think it isn’t possible.
The goal is to be able to manage your emotions while minimizing your distractions. We will get into that in a second. First you should understand that everyone deals with these emotions differently. Some use comedy, some get quiet, some are very vocal. None of those are wrong. You should accept these feelings for what they are and then move forward. Next, the world doesn’t stop because of discomfort in your life. You can’t expect everyone to feel what you are feeling or even acknowledge how you feel. If you decide to share, or word gets out, you must realize you cannot control other people’s reactions. It is nice when people empathize with your situation, but should not be expected. That should not stop you for asking for help or calling on the people around you that you care about. Sometimes you need an outside perspective. Someone who isn’t in the trenches with you to give you a fresh look at what is going on with your emotional situation. Determine who it is that has your back and give them a call when you need a friend.
With that being said, here are some ways to turn things around for yourself. The first would be gratitude. You should appreciate what you do have and what you are able to do. Don’t beat yourself up. There are many more things to be thankful for and appreciative of than what is consuming you at the moment. After that, try to avoid “could’ve, would’ve and should’ve”. If something has happened, it is in the past and you can’t change it. You can however learn from it, but you must live in the present. What I mean by that is, sometimes you can also fear the future because of the past. You need to realize that fear is one emotion created in your head by things that haven’t happened yet. There is still time to change the outcome before it is your present situation. How much time is dependent on the situation. For example, defusing a bomb doesn’t give you much time, but you are still technically alive in the present. So look at the moment you are in, and be thankful for that and what you have. Enjoy the present.
A “time-out” may be something you can use. This can be defined in several ways. The first way that comes to mind in this current generation is disconnecting from the distractions of social media and/or shutting off your phone (as I write this, and then post it to social media). You can allow yourself to grieve or indulge with whatever emotions you are feeling, but put a time constraint on it. Allow yourself to have a “break” from that situation. That may be an extended period of time, as in a vacation, to clear your head, or even 5 minutes during your work day walking away from your instrument or desk.
Some other ways to take a “time-out” may be some taking a several long breaths or meditation. Breathing brings oxygen to the brain, which allows it to function clearly. How many times have to been in a stressful situation and held your breath without knowing it (until that situation is over and you exhale). Another way could be writing in a journal or diary to really get your thoughts out and review them logically. Exercise is also a great idea. It releases endorphins to the brain which have been scientifically proven to energize your spirits and make you feel good. Exercise also helps with getting proper rest. Sleeping is a way of recharging your body’s battery, and if you get enough rest you will wake up refreshed and clear headed. Proper hygiene is a good way (and anyone around you will appreciate this). Cleaning and grooming yourself helps you feel good about yourself and keep your mind in a positive light. Monitoring your diet is also key. Alcohol is a depressant so stay away from that. Also, caffeine triggers adrenaline. Adrenaline heightens your emotions and side-steps rationality. So if you’re defusing that bomb, great! More coffee please. But if you’re dealing with a loss or frustration, stick to the decaf. Some people use eating to cope with their feelings. Yes there is tryptophan in chocolate (the amino acid in Thanksgiving turkey that makes you sleepy). That particular amino acid releases serotonin in the brain which makes you feel better. Chocolate also contains another neurotransmitter, anandamide (very small amounts). Anadamine targets the same brain structure as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the active ingredient in cannabis. The darker the chocolate the better. Now with that said, you shouldn’t binge eat to feel better, but making sure that you are eating, and trying to lean towards healthier choices is key.
Changing your thought process and refocusing your energy is a great step in the right direction. However, this is easier said than done. When everything is rainbows and butterflies and skittles and sunshine, keeping your mind in the positive is a walk in the park. But when you are overwhelmed by stress or low feelings, all you can seem to focus on is what is bringing you down. This is when you can “check-in” on something that makes you happy. Take a minute to focus on something (hopefully completely unrelated) that makes you happy, or at least smile. Smiling releases endorphins and lowers the stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol is more active when we feel stressed or anxious. It contributes to the unpleasant feelings we experience. By lowering it we can reduce these negative feelings. Refocusing your energy can be as simple as listing the positive things going on in your life, or checking in on your current goals. This will take your mind off of what is bringing you down and help you shift to something that captivates you and is a positive in your life.
Lastly, knowing that whatever it is you are feeling at this moment will not last forever. Over time you will not feel as strongly about the current situation. That is not to say it won’t continue to sting or cause discomfort, but over time, you will be able to cope and accept what it is that is bothering you.