This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and we've asked Dr Carol Chapman to share her expertise with us. 1 in 5 of us suffer from mental health problems at some point in our lives so it's important to know how to stay happy and healthy.
Tips for musicians to keep mentally healthy and enhance well-being.
1. Remember the basics : healthy diet, keep exercising /fit, watch your weight, get plenty of sleep, little drinking, no drugs, no smoking.
2. Treat yourself compassionately and value yourself, regardless of what you have achieved and your circumstances.
3. Remember we have choices and can make changes in our lives and ourselves. We can escape the past, learn to welcome the uncertainties of the future and act effectively now.
4. Basic stress management: Recognise your stressors and develop proactive strategies for dealing with them. Recognise your effective and less effective coping strategies and develop them.
5. Be aware of any circumstances in your past that may add to present difficulties, and any recent events which may have triggered these difficulties, like changes or losses. Look out for signs of self-neglect, self-harming or self-sabotage, however small. Find more effective ways of coping.
6. Know what ‘pushes your buttons’. Open up to any unwanted emotions, thoughts, memories and images, rather than avoiding or suppressing them and become more accepting.
7. Practice reducing excess tension, panic, anxiety, and anger. Learn relaxation skills and use them regularly, especially when you really need to.
8. Have clear ‘boundaries’ between work and other aspects of life, so you can keep separate issues relating to one domain while being in another.
9. Cultivate moments of mindfulness, being fully in the present, maybe using your breathing or a word or a sound as an anchor.
10. Practice communicating clearly and directly. Other people are not mind-readers. Avoid blaming and shaming.
11. Recognise and challenge habits of negative thinking and negative assumptions and beliefs.
12. Make a point of noticing any good, positive and uplifting events, and situations. Note them in a positives diary each day.
13. Organise your time, so you can make space for you want and need to do. Be realistic about what is achieveable.
14. Be able to say ‘no’ to requests, and to delegate whenever necessary. Accept ‘no’ for an answer when someone says it to you.
15. Include ‘down-time’, time to relax and to socialise. Results come from the quality of work done in a given time not how long you spend.
16. Be aware of any tendencies to procrastinate and find ways of dealing with these.
17. Show compassion and tolerance towards yourself, especially if you are going through a difficult time. Compliment, reward and ‘treat’ yourself when appropriate.
18. Take time to develop your relationships however busy you are. They are important for well-being.
19. Try hard to improve and get better but don’t expect perfection in yourself or others. Talk back to your ‘inner critic.’
20. Everyone is a mixture of qualities and traits, strengths and weaknesses. Know yours: both your strengths and your weaknesses.
21. Keep trying things, unless you try you won’t succeed.
Please send me your tips to add to the list: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have a health problem – physical or psychological – that affects your ability to perform, we have a partnership with the British Association of Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM) that entitles you to a free assessment. BAPAM is an independent charity which gives specialist health advice, and if further treatment is required, provides information about appropriate health care practitioners, taking into account your needs as a musician.