I’ve always felt that musicians are one of the most blessed people as they are in a profession that fetches them ample money, fame and above all, these people follow their heart and have chosen a career which they are passionate about! Even during times of distress and anger when I reach out for music to soothe my heart, I’ve always thought about these lucky people who can sing a song or play an instrument to help themselves dissuade from such negativities on their own! Music has been quoted to be a universal way to pep your mood and spirits. All cultures in this world make some or the other form of music and all of us have it in us to appreciate good music, hum along the tune whether we know to sing or not and shake our hips or make a dance step or two irrespective of the fact that we know to dance or not! We see people whistling to themselves a tune from a popular movie while walking down the road, listening to fast-beat songs while travelling long distances, lose themselves during late night hours in love with old classics that stream in their radio, students hum a tune or two in happiness when their exam results are favorable, we love to sit back and listen to songs after a hard day at office and even doctors have their favorite playlist that’s often played in operation theatres while performing surgeries as it helps them keep their cool and save lives! Its been shown in studies that listening to music before surgeries even improves post-op outcomes! A crying baby is often pacified with musical rendition from his/her mother and also put to sleep by singing lullabies. Though the neurobiology of music exists as a highly specialized field we also have proofs that music helps in improving health too right from tending to our memory and mood to cardiovascular function and physical performance.
Music has the power to improve well-being, stress-related measures and boost mood but it can also leave a person agitated and unsettled (https://time.com/5254381/listening-to-music-health-benefits/). Picking the wrong music can put you in a pretty bad mental state bringing out negative emotions such as anger, depression and sadness. Experts say that the rhythm and the kind of song that we select can reform our heart rates and activities of the brain’s neural networks. Soothing and slow beat songs have a calming effect while fast-beat songs can rev up energy levels leaving you with pumped up spirits. While swimming, reading or even sleeping helps some people with boosting their mind there are some who choose music to calm their troubled minds. Even celebrities pursue an interest in music to get away with their back-to-back schedules and stress. When music has the power to heal all of us why does it have the exact opposite effect on music professionals?
Today’s Musicians are More than Singers-Performers as Well!
Life exists in a world where multitasking is the key. Yesteryear actors, singers and musicians were those kinds of people who found content in performing their job alone but today, a music director sings as well as acts, a singer tries his/her hands in penning down lyrics and an actor wants to be omnipresent- singing, directing and so on. The advent of reality shows and stage concerts have turned individuals into puppets who sing, act and perform according to the likes of the audience. Even popular singers and musicians have joined this spree where they have started to dance and perform along with singing to capture the likes of their fans and save a spot for themselves in the entertainment industry for a long run. But we keep hearing more and more depressing news that creating music and live shows could lead to drug and alcohol abuse. We have first-hand info from popular singers-Nicki Minaj, a famous rapper today, was once having suicidal thoughts owing to her failure during initial years and even the extremely popular Lady Gaga comments that fame made her feel traumatized sometimes. None can forget the heart-wrecking journey of Avicii who committed suicide after succumbing to alcohol abuse, anxiety and post-surgery pain. While the world knew Avicii nobody really ‘knew’ him well to understand his pain and suffering endured along with the fame and success in life.
Music tours around the world has become increasingly seen these days-this is beneficial to the audience but the musician visiting a country or city is pulled down by insomnia, stress and anxiety. These individuals don’t have a long-standing personal relationship owing to their absence from their country for long durations, suffer from isolation (though surrounded by thousands of fans the performer feels lonely within) and many musicians such as DJs perform late during the nights almost up to 3 AM in pubs and hotels before retiring to their room to sleep. Such haphazard working hours and work schedules force them to sleep on the planes or anytime during travel leading to chronic sleep deprivation which remains the cause behind a compromised immune system, increases anxiety and stress levels, causes depression and cognitive impairments.
The common man envies the celebrity musician of his/her chance to tour around the world, visit different places, earn millions and above all, be liked and admired by all. Fans have fun during concerts and are surprised when they hear that their favorite musician is into depression or stress. As a fan we might even feel “What’s so depressing while enjoying music and performing something that you are a natural in”. However familiar the musician might be with the songs sung and it might even be his/her 500th performance still he/she has a fight or flight response that’s evidently seen during high-pressure situations such as singing in front of thousands of people or a huge crowd. For some, it leads to a better performance due to the adrenaline rush but for some others it can lead to panic attacks, anxiety or even memory loss. But every musician believes that fame and success come at a personal price paid in the form of health, relationship, addiction, depression and anxiety. However rich and powerful you might be, the basic needs such as sleep, affection and compassion remain the same. More the number of shows greater is his/her risk of stress. The individual is totally isolated from his/her family, spends months away from his/her kids, never sees the light of day on most days, stays away from the comfort of the home and above all, lives a solitary life. It is necessary for them to take breaks in between and attend to their health and wellbeing. Nothing comes before self-care and wellness! Music plays a key role in improving the common man’s mood, health and well-being but it is time that musicians take serious steps to take care of their health and wellness too as they are a prize in our lives, a candle that staves away our darkness and a source of hope in each of our souls.
Music is Good for Our Health, so why are Musicians Suffering So Much? https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/features/music-mental-health-industry-artists-depression-anxiety-lady-gaga-zayn-demi-lovato-a8732341.html
Avicii: Is Mental Health in Music Still at Risk? https://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcthree/article/31a1b2ae-2373-45e0-9520-d651414779ad
Drugs, Sleeplessness, Isolation: the Downside of Being a Dance Musician: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/jul/26/djs-touring-mental-health-drugs-sleeplessness-isolation
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