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SoundGirls Self-Care: Coping with Anxiety

What is anxiety? “Anxiety is a normal and often healthy emotion. However, when a person regularly feels disproportionate levels of anxiety, it might become a medical disorder. Anxiety disorders form a category of mental health diagnoses that lead to excessive nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worry.” 1

Working in the Entertainment Industry can be stressful at times. During the past few weeks alone due to COVID-19, festivals, concerts, tours, and corporate gigs were canceled. This aftermath created a lot of fear and anxiety not only in our work industry but many others as well.

As someone who deals with anxiety and mental health, I think it is very important for Mental Health Awareness to be brought into light during this difficult time for many. In this article, I will discuss coping skills for anxiety that are worth sharing.

Take a Time Out 

With everything going on in the news it’s a good time to take time out and learn Mindfulness.

Mindfulness is “ the process of purposely bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment without judgment, which one develops through the practice of meditation and through other training” Turn off your phone. Go for a walk. Listen to music. Practice Yoga. 2

Exercise your Mindfulness skills.

Accept That You Cannot Control Everything 

Anxiety mostly stems from worrying about things we cannot control. We are powerless over things we cannot control. What we are in control of though, are our emotions and reactions. This is a great time to learn how to channel negative emotions and problems into positive thoughts and solutions.

Reach Out 

Whenever we are feeling down and out, it is best to reach out. Talking about your feelings with others is a great way to express yourself. I am thankful for the SoundGirls Facebook Group!

There are so many people sharing resources and being an outlet for one another during this hard time.

Anxiety is a normal emotion, but it cannot define us and take over our lives. We must learn how to cope with negative emotions and thoughts. This isn’t a process that can happen overnight, but with hard work, discipline, and coping skills we can all overcome our fears and anxiety.

1 Felman, A. (2020, January 11). Anxiety: Overview, symptoms, causes, and treatments. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323454 2 Felman, A. (2020, January 11). Anxiety: Overview, symptoms, causes, and treatments. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323454

Combatting Nerves

Being nervous happens to us all. Whether we like it or not, nerves are a very common part of life.

If you have a job in music, whether that be as a performer, live sound technician, etc. there can often be a lot of pressure for things to be right and to run smoothly. Therefore, creating a considerable amount of stress to get the job right.

So, as the feeling of being nervous is inevitable, I’ve compiled a few essential tips to help calm those nerves in a time of need.

Breathing

As a performer, it’s common to start second-guessing yourself moments before a gig. For example, I’ve stood many times at the side of the stage asking myself, ‘What on earth are my first few lyrics’!

What helps in these moments of sheer panic is to remember to Breathe.

Focus on taking long breaths in and out.

I watched a clip of Beyoncé warming up before a show where she and the crew all stood in a circle reciting ‘Breathe in positivity, exhale anxieties’ and just repeating it several times. So, if it’s good enough for Beyoncé, it’s good enough for me.

Make Sure you have Spares 

As a performer, producer, or live technician It’s always useful to carry spares of your essential kit.

I’ve worked many jobs where a microphone cable has stopped working, or a performer has forgotten to change the battery in their guitar.

To avoid unnecessary stress, I like to keep spares of almost every essential item I’ll be using on the job. This means extra leads, extra batteries, spare microphones you name it.

This leads me on to my next point…

Be prepared

No matter what your role is on the day. The best thing you can do is be prepared.

Whether that means practicing your set until you know it by heart or preparing all the equipment a few hours before the show and checking if everything is in working order.

This I find really helps with the nerves, as it removes the pressure of the unknown. When you trust your equipment and your preparation, you can trust yourself.

These are just a few tips I find to be very helpful when on different jobs and hopefully can be of some help no matter the job.

 

 

 

 

Performance Anxiety

I think pretty much everyone has at least once in their lifetime experienced anxiety in one way or another. Personally, my anxiety is a good old friend I have had with me for years. It is something I always have struggled with and there is different reasons to why that is, but some reasons that stands out the most is; I am a perfectionist and I am not best friends with failure.

For a lot of people, I think it is hard to admit that you suffer from anxiety and the impact it may have on your life. I used to be like that because I felt like I was overreacting.

In my previous blog post ‘A lesson about fun & failure,’ I briefly mentioned and touched on the subject about failure. My anxiety, and probably for a lot of people, is linked to the fear of failure.

I have studied music for many years; I began at the age of 11 to play classical piano. I love playing the piano, and I learned sight-reading from an early age. I played Mozart, Beethoven, Bach and I to this day absolutely love their compositions. But, what I could not get my head around was that I could not play those pieces perfectly every time. I got so angry with myself for messing it up to the point where I stopped enjoying playing the piano because I felt like I was failing.

Throughout college, I had to go through plenty of live performances, all of which I suffered terrible anxiety attacks from. I simply did not want to be on stage; I could not deal with the pressure and the possibility of failing. The pressure I put on myself, not anybody else, I’ve realised now later in life.

This is one of the main reasons I chose to work behind the stage and what makes me love and care so much about live performances. For me, it is so important that artists feel comfortable whilst being on stage because I know what it feels like when you don’t.

Performance anxiety is so important to acknowledge and to deal with in all aspects and careers of life. We put so much pressure on ourselves, from such an early age, it affects our mental health severely. It’s good to be ambitious, but when is it too much? At what point do we tell ourselves ‘hey it’s getting a bit too much now’?. Especially within the music industry, it is a very fast-paced industry and you’re expected to be multi-talented from a young age.

Sometimes it is not about overcoming your anxiety, sometimes it is merely about becoming friends with it. Nowadays I handle it in such a way that I give myself some time and space. I analyse what is going on in my life, usually my anxiety flares up when I’ve got too many things going on at the same time and really should’ve said no to a couple of jobs. I get terrible anxiety when I am new to things, especially jobs, to the point where I feel nauseous and overthink every possible scenario that might happen. But when this happens I tell myself that everything will be ok, one way or another.

We are only human in the end of the day, and as I have learned along the way, it is perfectly normal to feel anxious sometimes. However, if you feel like you need help to improve your anxiety and mental health do not hesitate to get in touch with your GP. There are also great apps to manage and improve your mental health here: https://apps.beta.nhs.uk/category/mental_health/.

 

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