Self-Care Resources for Musicians

It’s December (AKA we’re trapped in the hamster wheel that won’t stop spinning), and I’m fried - this post is partly for you, and partly a reminder for me.

Extra gigs, social events, gifts to plan and buy, political news becoming increasingly horrifying, wanting to finish up work and projects so I can take a holiday break - I’m feeling a little crazy from being pulled in so many directions. Add in the fact that we’ve barely seen the sun in a few weeks, and I'm not surprised that I’ve seen multiple friends collecting winter survival strategies on social media this week.

So, it’s the perfect time to talk about self-care. I know, you don’t have time for a spa day (neither do I), but really, there are many ways we take care of ourselves. Self-care is a huge buzzword in the creative entrepreneur world these days, but for good reason - we could all use more of it. I am starting to realize more and more, that if I feel like I don’t have time for self-care, I don’t have time NOT to take care of myself. Everything feels like a slog to me when I don’t have time to rest, and maybe it’s more about carving out mini-moments of relaxation when that’s all I have time for - this list from the always-brilliant Sarah Von Bargen of Yes and Yes has ways to feel happier when you only have 10 minutes.

Plants are part of my self-care strategy - greenery prevents sensory deprivation!

Plants are part of my self-care strategy - greenery prevents sensory deprivation!

I’m also taking a cue from fellow dark/cold dwellers the Danish and focusing on the concept of hygge to ensure comfort and well-being throughout the winter. Most of the battle for me is mental, and about giving myself permission to rest and enjoy rather than working all of the time.

Most musicians I know are regularly feeling somewhat burned out, and the hours that we work often don’t match up well for having meaningful social interactions with other humans, especially in this season of holiday gigs eating up our rest time. I feel like I have the best of intentions when it comes to balancing my life (can we actually do that?) and healthy self-care habits, but there are so many things (yoga, meditation) that I’m constantly trying to start and re-start. We’re all just doing our best, right?

Here are a few helpful resources I’ve discovered - some specifically for musicians, some more general (because we’re whole people!):

• Dissonance is a new non-profit which originated here in St Paul at McNally Smith College of Music. Their mission is to contribute to a healthier environment in the arts community, in terms of de-stigmatizing mental health issues (so important!), and overall wellness for musicians and artists. They’re collecting and sharing stories here.

• Christy Tending has so many great resources on her site - she is all about making self-care real, personalized, and attainable for all.

• Amy Kuretsky's Health Fuels Hustle podcast is geared toward online business owners, but I find it really useful as well, as it always has clear, actionable health tips. I love the message - that we can only do our best work when we’re actually healthy.

• The Beauty of Self Care series from Design*Sponge gave me lots to reflect on to aid in the mental struggle of running my own business.

• Janet Horvath - Playing Less Hurt: The most common consequence of overwork for musicians is injury, and this book is a classic for musicians’ health.

• The excellent book The Musician’s Way devotes a great deal of space to musicians’ wellness, and many resources can be found on the website here.

• Vanessa Cornett, who teaches locally here in St Paul at the University of St. Thomas, has done many great workshops on peak performance, anxiety management, and so many other wellness-related topics. Here are some articles to read, too.

I wish you a healthy and happy holiday season - don’t be afraid to do what you need to do to keep yourself healthy in all realms (physical, emotional, mental, etc.).

What are some of your favorite self-care resources?

Rebecca Hass

Pianist and composer