The Naysayers Are Wrong. Part 7: Dealing with Frustration

Some stress management tips that are especially aimed at musicians.

Ultimate Guitar

We've talked so far about getting off the ground as a musician, becoming able to start up your own band and get your music heard, and even how to get started writing professional-level songs. What we'll next begin to concern ourselves with, is the upkeep of that lifestyle as we begin to promote our music.

This is the hardest part. Writing music is fun. Playing music is enjoyable. Recording music is one of the greatest thrills I've ever known. Getting other people to actually listen to that music... is AWFUL.

We take pride in our music; we adore it as we do anything anyone creates. But unfortunately, most people don't get to see that process, and unless they're unusually empathetic, the average YouTube viewer isn't gonna think twice about how much went into the creation of your music.

We will talk later about the mechanics of using YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Reverbnation, Soundcloud, Ultimate-Guitar, and other such sites to promote your music. For now, we must first lay a foundation of mental upkeep.

Anyone who tells you that it isn't mentally taxing spending every day hoping that those sites begin to generate some popularity, is lying to you. So, we have to be aware of what can be done to reverse that mental drain and keep our minds healthy and free of clutter.

Daily exercise, something like walking for half an hour, is a brilliant start. Also, when you start to feel depressed or anxious, simply stop and breathe deeply from your abdomen. If you're a singer, chances are you've already learned this technique, but I'll outline it here for those who aren't.

Inhale gently and deeply, slowly feel your lower abdomen expand. It should be so gentle that you can't even hear your breath. When your abdomen has reached peak expansion and your lungs feel full, hold for a second or two, then slowly let it out by letting your stomach fall back inward to relaxation. Both inhalation and exhalation should be through the nose.

Once this becomes partially automatic and you can do it without too much mental regulation, let your mind sink down into your navel. This begins as an awareness at the navel, a concentration in that area. This method of mental control has been proven to lower blood pressure, and many people with anxiety disorders have managed their stress without medication by learning to keep their awareness in this area. This is because keeping your awareness lower, in your center of gravity, causes neurological signals to fire from the brain in a different way. The technical jargon of that is beyond the depth of my studies, but it is my understanding that a different impulse pathway is used, which is calmer and more rational.

Also, resist the temptation to dedicate too much time to this. Yes, it's true that the input of work results in the output of results, but in the beginning, there's such a thing as diminishing returns. If I've got a couple videos lined up in advance, if I've gotten my weekly article written, if I've already played through my setlist to keep my skills up, if I've already sent out my tweets, and I'm not actively recording an album, you better believe I'm gonna be lazy for a day or two! That is the greatest joy in making a living as a musician; setting my own hours. DON'T keep piling more on. Set a quota, meet it, and STOP. If you overtax yourself, you could potentially spend months in a depression that makes it quite difficult to get work done.

That's it for now. If there's anything you guys would like to hear more about, leave a comment below. Also, here's a link to a companion video that covers another side of this same coin.

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