Navigating the Emotional Rollercoaster: Strategies for Protecting Mental Health as an Artist

Is it any wonder that artists and creatives suffer from anxiety and mental health? When you look at what is expected of you as an artist from the feeling of vulnerability whilst you’re putting your feelings on show. The financial instability, the constant judgment, the difficulty of trying to combine emotional decision making with practical thought processes at the same time, let alone self isolation, you’ve got lack of routine. Let’s face it, this is not exactly a 9 to 5 job. You’ve got the lack of measurability. I mean, after all, what does good look like? It’s a very difficult question because we’re constantly comparing ourselves to huge numbers that we see online. So with all that in mind, what can you do to protect your mental health while you are creating and showing your feelings to the world? Well, luckily, there are tried and tested ways that can help relieve anxiety and protect your mental health. So let’s look at seven ways that you can navigate this whilst you’re pushing in this really difficult industry.

No. 1, set your goals. Have you actually thought about what your goals are outside of I wanna be a rock star. I wanna fill a stadium, I wanna tour the world. I want everyone to know about my music. Great. But with those sorts of targets, we don’t have anything tangible. And it’s no wonder that your mental health and your anxiety is running riot, because what we need to be thinking of not I wanna fill a stadium, but how am I gonna fill the local venue? How do I get 100 people to actually pay for a ticket and come and see me?

Now, if you’re thinking like that, you think, well, actually, I think I could probably do that. I can understand the process of what I need to do to be able to get that point. Now if you can do that well, at that point, you could start to think about, well, I think I can maybe do that in another town or another city. I think maybe if I could get 100, if I make some tweaks, I could get to 150 or 200. So setting achievable goals and understanding the process will relieve some of that anxiety.

No. 2 is organization. And I understand that most artists and creatives aren’t the most organized people because they have a creative brain. But what we do need to do is we need to systemize the creativity. Because now if we can do that, what we’re looking at doing is we’re looking at enhancing all of the skills that you’ve got, but making sure that the routine, making sure the organization is funnel into you, utilizing that and putting it into practice.

Now this means having a less chaotic life. So for example, do you have a calendar? I know I bang on about this all the time, but it is so important to know what you need to achieve and when you need to achieve it. And if your calendar is actually dictating the pace of what you need to do, it takes away so much anxiety.

Same thing with systems. For example, do you use your phone for notes? Do you use your phone for reminders? These small details can keep you on the path, making sure that you’re achieving the things that you want to achieve over a period of time. And that will sap away all of the anxiety because you feel that you are in control.

No.3 is batching content. Social media content creation is one of the biggest problems when it comes to anxiety. Why? Because we are creating, but at the same point, we’re not quite creating the thing that we want to be creating. We’re creating in order to promote the thing that we wanna be creating. If that makes sense. The problem here is you’re supposed to be creating every single day and that leads to anxiety. Be creative again. That leads to this Groundhog Day and all of a sudden you’re not a musician, you’re not an artist, you’re not a songwriter. All of a sudden you’re a social media content creator. And you didn’t sign up to that. But it doesn’t have to be this way. What you can do is you can batch your content. You can set up systems so that you can film an entire week’s worth of content, maybe even entire month’s worth of content in just one hour. Now, the way you do that is by systemizing. If you think about where you’re gonna shoot, the location, what you’re gonna wear, having some extra items of clothing, some extra props, things that you’re gonna do, things that you’re gonna say. Here’s some examples. I’m out on a shoot, it’s golden hour, everything looks lovely. And I just say, hey guys, I think I’ve written the song of the summer. Check it out, see what you think. And then it goes into the song done.

No. 1 piece. The second piece of content is, hey, if you like artists like this, or you like artists like this, you’re gonna love this track. Check it out. Two really simple pieces of content, but you made two things in a space of probably one minute, maybe two minutes. Golden hour makes it looks good. And this is a systemized approach to batching.

Now I understand you’re not making the greatest content of all time, but what you are doing is you are being consistent, you’re making high quality content and you’re giving people a reason to watch something. Thing No. 4 is set up your ecosystem. Now, during Covid, I was traveling around quite a lot and trying to make YouTube videos whilst traveling was the main source of my anxiety, trying to get a shot, trying to make it sound decent, trying to make it look good, trying to fit everything in it. It was because I didn’t know where I would be or what it would look like. And that to me was stressful.

Whereas now I have this office, everything is set up. I have a camera, which I’m talking into right now. I have lights all around me. This means I have the ecosystem. It means I don’t have to think about where am I going to film today? No. Same thing with where am I going to work today? No, I just come in and everything I need is within arm’s reach. You get to create the environment you work in so that you’re not thinking about it day in, day out.

Now this also applies for other systems like people, the people who are around you, the people who can help you if they have systems. Now sometimes this means it’s more stressful because you’re managing people instead of doing the thing. If you can delegate, if you can find people that you trust and you can give certain things to certain people. What this means is it frees you up to do the most important things.

Now this goes for locations outside of your place, whether that’s a studio, whether that’s places that you can do videos, whether that’s gear. Familiarity breeds confidence. So make sure that you have everything that you need set up, and you don’t need to think about it. No. 5, find the gold. You wouldn’t believe how many messages and comments I get every single day from artists who say, hey, what I’m doing isn’t working. First thing I think is, well, there’s nuance. You can’t just say it is or it isn’t working because certain little bits of it will be working, certain bits of it won’t be working. So it’s not a case of being black and white because everything is shades of gray and your job is to seek out the bits that are working, to try and test different things.

When you find something that works, go all in. I have this phrase which says dig for gold. We’re looking for the gold. Now, when you find the gold, what do you dig it up? If you start finding out what’s working in your socials, you go all in. You do that again and again and you dig for that gold.

No. 6, diversify your portfolio. I know that makes me sound like a financial Youtuber. I am not, but it’s the same thing. If you just say, hey, all I do is TikTok or Instagram or YouTube, great. But what happens when that isn’t working? Or what happens when you’re trying to build a rounded portfolio? There’s so many things that you can do to promote yourself as an artist and your music. For example, you got gigs, you got press, you got PR, you’ve got radio, you’ve got collapse. There’s loads of things that you can do outside of just making micro content, even macro content or live content. There’s so many things that you could do, but are you doing them? You see, sticking to one thing means tunnel vision and that can only result in a roller coaster.

One day you get great results. Hurray. This is the best day of my life. The next day it’s all going wrong. It’s a complete disaster. It’s all going wrong. The next day, the results are back up again. Oh, it’s gonna be okay. The next day, it’s all gone wrong again. You can’t live like that. That is an anxiety waiting to happen. What we’ve got to do is we’ve got to spread our bets. And if something’s doing well, something else is probably gonna be doing badly. But it’s okay because we can start to look at what’s working and what’s not. And No. 7 is the phrase DIY. I hate the phrase DIY. I’ve heard it millions of times from artists. I’m a DIY artist.

The problem with that is that means do it yourself. You are doing everything yourself. That is a recipe for disaster because your anxiety levels are now you’re doing everything yourself. It should be L I y lead it yourself. You are in control. You are responsible. You don’t have to do everything. If you do have to do everything, because you literally have no one else around you, you have no infrastructure, no ecosystem, then you need to go back to the other rules. You need to have more priorities. You need to have more organization. You need to set your targets to be more achievable.

It shouldn’t be DIY, it should be l. You are the leader. Lead it yourself when it comes to calming your anxiety. We need to think back to when you started because you loved it. You started because of those opportunities and experiences of maybe I’ll get to play in front of someone. Wouldn’t that be amazing? And then all of a sudden now it’s become about money and numbers. And that’s another recipe for anxiety, disaster. Whereas if we’re doing this because we love it, because of the passion, because we just wanna get our music out there and we want to enjoy the process. Well, that’s gonna take a lot of the stress and anxiety away from you. And lastly, remember that every creative feels the same as you, no matter how good they are at masking it. I know I do. One minute I feel like a failure. The next minute I feel like I’ve got imposter syndrome. Then I’ve got anxiety, then I’ve got frustration because something should work and it isn’t working. No matter what the numbers are, we all feel the same. But these systems, having people to talk to these things help. I mean, if you’re feeling it right now, feel free to just leave a comment below, even if it’s just a rant and just be like, this isn’t working and I’m frustrated, just getting that out of your system might be something that starts to ease your anxiety. Being a creative is an amazingly rewarding thing, but you need the systems to be able to control the power, take care of yourselves. If I can help with anything, you know, I’m here.