Musicians need stress – and relaxation 3

stressed-stress-relaxIf you want a life without stress, don’t become an artist, don’t become a musician! As a musician, you better know how to deal with stress! You need stress if you want to be a good musician.

The most common form of stress is to live up to expectations – from others or from yourself. Don’t underestimate your own expectations. At all levels you meet expectations: how you want to sound, how you want to play your instrument, what kind of show the audiences wants to see, the number of sold tickets the venue needs to break even, the number of sold albums the label expects, and you can go on like this. Parallel there’s the expectation of old friends and family for you to stay the same as you’ve always been.

There are many different ways to deal with pressure. Let’s take a person who is grumpy towards you:

  • Pass it on: if someone is grumpy to you, you are grumpy to the next person you meet.
  • Return the pressure: if someone is grumpy to you, you are grumpy to that person.
  • Step aside: you avoid the grumpy person.
  • Give in: you take it personally and wonder what’s wrong with you.
  • Toss it with you: you feel the weight of all grumpy persons on earth on your shoulders.
  • Run away: you feel grumpy too and look for distractions so you don’t have to deal with it.

Our body reacts to stress with three different hormones. Stress gives you an immediate boost of adrenaline and norepinephrine. Your heart starts to beat faster and you become more aware, awake, focused. It can give you quite a rush!

A bit later the cortisol kicks in. This is the stage when you have to be careful because it’s not healthy on the long run. Too much cortisol can suppress the immune system, increase blood pressure and sugar, decrease libido, produce acne, contribute to obesity and more.

Stress gives you the necessary energy boost you need for a good performance or for the launch a new project.

Though it’s important to take time to relax afterwards. It’s the only way you can get rid of cortisol. If you don’t get rid of it, it will accumulate in your body, with the negative effects mentioned above.

If used regularly, a walk in the woods, listening to relaxing music or getting a good night sleep often will do the job. There are many more options, of course.

What’s your favorite way to relax?



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3 thoughts on “Musicians need stress – and relaxation

  • Ales

    Stress managing for musicians is a field, I’m working on and try to develop, since it’s quite unknown in my country (Slovenia). I’m a very beginner in this kind of business, so I’m struggling to get my first clients and help them to overcome their stage fright and other fears, they are experiencing.
    Before important musical performance I do some yoga (Mia Olson: Musician’s Yoga) and some NLP techniques (David Busswell: Performance strategies for musicians) to calm myself.
    How did you start with your business?

    • hildespille Post author

      Hi Ales,
      I have a master degree in cultural psychology. After that I started in the music business and have booked Dutch and European tours for bands from all over the world.
      Only recently I started to combine both on my blog, in my coaching and workshops.

  • Jacqueline Van Kalsbeek

    Hello Hilde,

    As you know as a psychologist, stress is a rather complex thing. A bit stress is good for us. But easily it will work out wrongly.
    As a physical therapist I do like a lot of physical exercises to decrease stress: different relaxation exercises, breathing exercises. A lot of stress finds a way in our muscles.
    Especially several musicians are having repetitive movements during their music making. That will give troubles in the muscles someday. To prevent troubles I would advise musicians to visit a physical therapist to learn how they can try to prevent these troubles in time.

    Jacqueline van Kalsbeek, physical therapist and Quality/ARBO-adviser.