I don’t think I’ve met a musician yet that hasn’t struggled with their mental health at some point during their lives. I’ve certainly struggled with mine for a long time, the funny thing is I always thought I was alone or just weird. Turns its much more common than I thought.
So how do we deal with mental health conditions at music college?
Talking is the most important thing, just look at what talking has done to break the stigma for Anxiety disorders and Depression. Creating a safe space for you and your friends to openly talk about your mental health is really important.
Here are some examples of ways to switch off from the college buzz:
- going for a walk in the park (exercise bonus, releases those endorphins too!)
- doing something creative like drawing, colouring, painting or in my case cross-stitch
- going for coffee with your friends
- taking time out to be completely quiet for 2-3 minutes each day – listen to your breath and your heartbeat
- meditation – I use Headspace – you actually get it free with your student Spotify Premium account
- any form of exercise, it doesn’t have to be a full body workout at the gym, preferably something that is cardio based
- read a book/magazine/article/blog
- listen to music that is completely unrelated to what you’re currently learning
- go for a brisk walk on the beach or just sit and listen to the sound of the waves
Pre-existing mental health conditions can cause added stress at music college, as I have discovered. I’ve found I’m always having to explain myself to others, even my friends – luckily my close friends know when I’m not doing well. Sometimes you won’t be able to perform/practice/work your best and you are at the mercy of your own mind. It’s even worse when you’re self-aware and can see your mental health having an impact on your studies.
By making small steps each day it becomes easier and more manageable to look after your mental health, so why not pick a few of these things to do every day for a week and see how you feel at the end. If you feel even a little more refreshed and relaxed then you’re already making progress.