Music, what a beautiful thing. It touches the heart of everyone. But some of the lifestyle around it can be detrimental to your mental health and increase the risk of depression and anxiety. One recent survey in particular conducted by Help Musicians Uk found 60% of musicians had experienced depression and anxiety.
I’m going to teach you the biological reason as to why this is, but more importantly how to minimise the risk. Let me explain…
First, some science…
I want you to imagine you have 2 buckets in your body (ok, maybe not too science-y). One bucket is for stress hormones (cortisol and adrenalin), the other is for feel-good neurotransmitters (these are messengers in the brain responsible for mood). Normally, there is a good balance between these two buckets and they complement each other, helping the body create a state of serenity. I call this balance your ‘Hormone Harmony’, remember this, it’s important for later.
So why are so many musicians, DJ’s and music producers experiencing poor mental health? The answer lies with their hormone harmony and ‘Negative Triggers’…
In our lives there are certain factors I call ‘negative triggers’ that imbalance your hormone harmony.
When you have lots of these negative triggers in your lifestyle this happens…
The stress hormone bucket fills to a level where it is unmanageable for the body. The feel-good neurotransmitter bucket empties to a level where they don’t work or receipt correctly anymore. This imbalances your hormone harmony, therefore ending the serenity. This imbalance increases the risk of depression and anxiety, and causes some of the nasty symptoms; fatigue, low mood, panic attacks, feeling spaced out, feeling disconnected from your emotions and senses etc. All these can be symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Unfortunately in the lifestyle of a musician or music producer there are lots of these negative triggers that are creating a negative hormone harmony. Here are just a few…
-Working in isolation
-Poor sleeping patterns
-Inconsistent eating patterns
-High amount of travel
All these negative triggers add up to an imbalanced hormone harmony and there you have it, the risk of depression and anxiety is increased.
I’m not here to tell you to stop doing what you’re doing, but I can give you some tips on how to prevent and reduce the risk of you damaging your hormone harmony. I’m going to do this with something I call ‘Lifestyle Triggers’. I’m going to tell you about three in particular I have used to help a lot of people with depression and anxiety. You probably have one big question…
Basically, these are slight unique changes and factors in your lifestyle, you could look at them as small steps that reverse the damage to your hormone harmony. They help to empty the body of stress hormones and increase the reception of feel good neurotransmitters.
The great thing is, they help improve general mental health (memory, energy, mood) as well as reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Here are three you can try. I chose these three in particular because you could easily fit them in and around the hectic and busy work schedule being a musician or music producing creates.
The exercise-stress axis is a principle I created and work by, which allows me to use exercise to relieve depression and anxiety. Let me explain… All exercise is a stress on the body. Your body can either adapt to this stress, therefore lowering your stress hormones at rest, or it can overload the body and actually increase stress hormones at rest. I call this balance your exercise-stress axis. The idea is to create a positive one, so that over time your stress hormones reduce right down and improve your hormone harmony.
With me so far? Good, let’s keep going…
The key is to not use traditional exercise, instead use something I call ‘flexible exercise’. This is different to traditional exercise as it’s far shorter, 10/20/30 minutes long. These short, timely bursts of exercise give the body a chance to adapt to the stress of exercise, therefore emptying the body of stress hormones. This gives you an improved hormone harmony and it relieves symptoms.
Before you think ‘How the hell am I going to fit in a workout when I’m touring or travelling? No gym, no equipment’. That’s the beauty of this unique approach to exercise, there is very little time and space is needed. As far as equipment you only need something like a resistance band, so you can engage your whole body and get your heart rate up for 10-2o minutes. This makes it very easy to do in a hotel room and when you are touring.
To learn more about flexible exercise check out this blog ‘How I helped 400 people relieve depression and anxiety with the ‘Flexible Exercise’ technique’.
The food we eat is constantly effecting our hormones, neurotransmitters and nervous system. I call these 3 systems your ‘Power 3’ as they can all rebalance your hormone harmony when they are functioning correctly. I call this constant dynamic between the food you eat and the power 3 the ‘Food-Mood Constant’. The idea is to create a positive food-mood constant, therefore relieving symptoms through a better functioning power 3. A simple lifestyle trigger that helps this, is to avoid ‘Negative Trigger Foods’, these are all the foods that inhibit the power 3. Some of these foods are more well known…
-Big portions of simple carbohydrates and sugar- will create peaks and lows in blood sugar. This forces the body to increase stress hormones (adrenalin and cortisol) to try and rebalance it.
-Over processed foods- will put pressure on the power 3 and stop them functioning properly.
-Drinks that overly stimulate adrenalin and your nervous system- coffee, energy drinks, sugary fruit juice etc.
I know looking at this list (if you’re a musician) you might be thinking some of these foods are creeping into your diet, normally for convenience.
Heres the thing… IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT!
Unfortunately a lot of these negative trigger foods are hidden by clever marketing, from large, money hungry businesses who don’t care about your mental health. To learn more about negative trigger foods check out my ‘Free guide to hidden negative trigger foods’ here. Cut them out and start creating a positive food-mood constant, therefore improving your mental health.
The final lifestyle trigger brings it all together and just helps to ensure consistency and compliance to the first two. Create a ‘motivation prompt’ and write it down each day. This is something that instantly triggers motivation for the person that day. This is usually a desired outcome of the first two lifestyle triggers like; improve my energy, feel less tired and fatigued, feel less stressed, reduce my anxiety.
When you started reading this article, you may have thought I was going to suggest looking deep into your thoughts, analysing your perceptions and things that have happened in your past, like some traditional therapies do. Of course I’m not putting these therapies down, they are very important and should definitely be considered. But, the beauty of applying these sorts of lifestyle triggers to your daily routine if you’re musician, is that you are in complete control of them. They are extremely flexible and don’t take long, which means you can fit them in with the unpredictable lifestyle of a musician. Often with things like depression and anxiety it feels like they are a part of our personality and they are in control of us. So, the fact that you are in control of them is crucial, as it creates a very empowering situation where you are taking control of depression and anxiety, not the other way round. To learn more about lifestyle triggers check out this blog… The 2 most important lifestyle triggers.
Remember, if you are experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety or any of the symptoms I have talked about, always seek medical advice and talk to a doctor. These things are nothing to ashamed of. If you found this useful please like and share, as it might help someone else going through the same thing. We can beat depression and anxiety together.