Musician burnout: It’s a growing problem.

[Another guest post from Jess Waller. – AC]

Photo by Wendy Wei from Pexels

When You’re Just Not Feeling It: How To Beat Burnout Before It Beats You

It’s no secret that due to the pressures to succeed, there is always a chance that even the most successful musician can experience burnout. Back in October 2018, Selena Gomez checked herself into a mental health treatment facility while in the midst of writing new music. According to reports, due to anxiety and ongoing health issues, the pop star started to feel overwhelmed, which is why the “Wolves” singer opted to seek professional help. 

No one is immune to anxiety or stress. Whether you’re a Grammy-winning artist or a musician working on a first single, at some point, there will come a day when you don’t feel like doing what you once loved to do. However, the key to overcoming burnout is to keep it at bay – before it catches up with you.

Step away and take a breather

You may think that staying up all night locked up in a room while working on a song is the way to get your next hit. But if the creative juices aren’t flowing, then taking a breather may be your best bet to avoid crashing and burning. Head outdoors and take a walk, hit the gym to get the endorphins going, or just have a cup of coffee somewhere nice for a change. Sometimes, a change of scenery may be all you need to recharge you– and besides, you’ll never know where the inspiration for your next song will come from. Never forget that Suzanne Vega’s song, “Tom’s Diner,” came from her experience watching other people’s lives while sipping her cup of coffee at Tom’s Restaurant in New York City. So head out and see what new ideas may come to you.

Get a hobby. No seriously, get one

Think you’ve got no time to get a hobby? Think again. If BTS, one of the busiest and most popular musical acts in the world right now can do 12 stadium tours, 5 appearances on national TV, 4 fan meetings, press conferences, and nonstop promotions of their new album while filming episodes for their VLIVE reality show (that’s just their May-June 2019 schedule) while finding time to indulge in their hobbies, then so can you. The Korean boy band, made up of 7 members, are passionate about their hobbies which include fishing, going on bike rides, caring for bonsai plants and pets, painting, photography, watching movies, and going to art museums, among others. 

As they have always stressed the importance of mental health, they make it a point to find time to do something outside of work that brings them genuine happiness. Jin, RM, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook may be on to something as studies have shown that participating in leisure activities can be beneficial to one’s overall health and wellbeing. So find an activity that brings you joy – it can contribute to a healthy and positive mindset, which can improve your career and your life.

Talk it out

You don’t have to wait for problems to manifest themselves before seeking guidance from someone who can help you out. Of course, you can go to a therapist to voice out your present fears and concerns, but you can also have regular talks with your peers, a mentor, or like-minded friends, even when things are going seemingly well in your career. Regularly reaching out to someone who understands and can relate to what you’re going through can help you stay grounded, and it prevents you from becoming isolated, especially when you’re pressured to deliver. Having a conversation with other musicians can also give you a different perspective when it comes to viewing challenges that may arise while you’re working on your music.

A little self-care can go a long way to prevent stress from affecting your career. So take a break, find a hobby, and take the time to talk to someone. Doing these things can all help to keep burnout from taking over your life. Having a happy and healthy mindset will ensure that you’re always reminded of why you’re doing all this in the first place– after all, it’s all about the music. 

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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