How to Stay Mentally Fit as an Artist
We caught up with singer-songwriter Crystal Genesis to uncover how she takes care of her mental health as a DIY artist.
Being an independent artist comes with its highs and lows. For many, staying DIY means having a (sometimes consuming) “hustle” mentality. If you’re in constant “go” mode, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, burned out, or be headed for a breakdown.
We spoke to singer-songwriter Crystal Genesis to get her tips on how she stays mentality fit to avoid feeling burnt out. From getting into a healthy routine to journaling, here are her tips for keeping your mind in tune.
Listen to Crystal Genesis's five-song EP “Astro-Soul” here.
Get yourself into a (healthy) routine
If you don’t have a routine, you need one. Humans are creatures of habit, and having a structure in your day will positively change your health. Lack of routine could lead to increased feelings of stress, bad sleep, poor eating, and decreased productivity. Aside from planning out your day for work (making music), setting a time each day where you tend to your mind, is equally as important as exercising your body.
“You have to stick to some kind of schedule. Artists, we like to be free and spontaneous but I’ve noticed that carving out that time every day specifically for your mental health really goes a long way,” says Crystal Genesis.
Getting into a healthy and productive routine requires planning. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your days while finding time for your mental and physical health.
Get enough sleep (7 to 8 hours)
If sleep is not prioritized in your life at the moment, it should be. We all need a good night’s rest to function to the best of our ability, and not getting enough sleep could lead to bad social decisions, getting sick, a shorter attention span, and the list goes on.
“Loss of sleep impairs your higher levels of reasoning, problem-solving, and attention to detail,” says Dr. Merrill Mitler, a sleep expert and neuroscientist at NIH, “Tired people tend to be less productive at work. Lack of sleep also influences your mood, which can affect how you interact with others. A sleep deficit over time can even put you at greater risk for developing depression.”
We understand that you might need some flexibility with your sleep schedule. If you’re pursuing a music career and maintaining a part-time or full-time job on the side, you’ve just got to work out how you can still set up a solid sleep schedule.
Plan your week & start a bullet journal
To get started, break out your calendar and schedule out the week ahead.
The first step before planning your schedule is to identify what makes you personally happy and what you need to do to improve in your craft.
Try breaking it down into these three categories:
Fitness and diet (physical health): eating healthy throughout the day, drinking enough water to stay hydrated, and a workout routine.
Working on your craft: writing lyrics, instrument practice, working on a song, studio time, and anything else that aligns with you achieving your music career goals.
Other hobbies and break time (mental health): journaling, meditating, taking a walk, painting, and learning a new skill.
Write down what each category means to you before going into the next step of planning out your weekly calendar.
How do you create a simple daily schedule?
Write everything down: begin by writing down every single task you want to accomplish in the week ahead on a separate piece of paper.
Prioritize your tasks: once you have the main list of tasks, go through and circle which are timely priorities.
Write out commitments: if you have a part-time or full-time job, add your working schedule to your calendar. This could even include booked studio time, and meetings you have committed to – lock your commitments into your calendar first.
Order your other tasks: break up your tasks into “morning”, “midday”, and “afternoon” on your schedule instead of hour-to-hour. This gives you a bit of wiggle room if a task takes longer than expected whilst you’re figuring out how much time you realistically need for everything.
Another option is keeping a bullet journal, which is a mix of a daily planner, to-do list, and diary. It’s an effective way of helping you keep track of the past, stay organized in the present, and plan for the future. This type of personal journaling will allow you to keep a record of achievements, goals, thoughts, and inspiration in an organized but creative way.
Get creative (outside of making music)
Like Crystal Genesis shared, “Painting and writing poetry helps me stay inspired with my music. Getting involved in multiple types of mediums of art can help inspire you in other mediums. Dancing and moving to a song I like – really helps my creative flow.”
Starting a new creative hobby is a great way to recharge your mind and reignite your imagination. Choose something you are actually interested in exploring and try it out for a proper amount of time before giving up on it (5-6 weeks). Here are some creative hobbies you can try:
Learn a new instrument
Learn how to cook
Knitting and crochet
There are helpful online resources that are centered around learning new skills, like Skillshare and Masterclass, giving you a crash course in the hobby you’re interested in.
Get out into nature
Being cooped up inside the studio for too long or indoors, in general, will have an effect on your mood, stress level, and productivity. Changing up your environment throughout the day and taking a break outdoors, has been proven to help people feel mentally restored.
Cognitive psychologist, David Strayer, says “being in nature allows your brain’s command center to relax. It’s akin to resting an overused muscle.”
So next time you’re starting to feel stressed and foggy, step outside and take a short walk, sit on a park bench, take in your surroundings and during the warm szn, go for a swim.
Summer is finally here, so make sure to soak in the sun and get a proper dose of Vitamin D. Your body and mind will thank you later.
Some of our favorite Mental Health apps:
Headspace is a meditation app that teaches you "life-changing mindful skills in just a few minutes a day".
Talkspace is an online text and video chat therapy platform that offers immediate access to therapists who cover a broad range of mental health services.
Headway is an app created "by readers for readers" to provide an easy way to learn and get knowledge from a range of digital books.
Better Help is an app for online therapy sessions with the questions asked upon sign up designed to match you with an appropriate counselor.
Playlists we recommend to wind down and relax:
Lofi & Chill (amuse)
The Wind Down (Spotify)
Shows we recommend to wind down and relax:
For more tips check out our blog here.