Even when we are not particularly busy, somehow life can feel chaotic or overwhelming. There are always messages to answer, we are bombarded with images of all the cool things everyone else is doing, and we are generally over-stimulated.
For musicians, this feeling of overwhelm can come from regular practice thoughts, anxiety about upcoming performances, or general concerns about unpredictable income streams. If you are a music student, you may feel engulfed by the sheer volume of work and practicing you need to do.
Personally, I find myself in this buzzy, underlying feeling of overwhelm almost every January. I mind the dreary winter weather and I hate being cold. After a season of busy holiday festivities and gigs, trying to get organized for a new year of teaching and performances can be daunting. I feel like my mind, and my office, are scattered and messy!
We all have a lot to face these days, but when your work depends on your ability to show up hyper focused for practicing, rehearsing, teaching or performing, the strain of distraction takes on a new meaning.
In times that you are feeling overwhelmed I’d like to invite you to build something. A container, for yourself. A physical or mental space (ideally, both) where you can declutter and find sanctuary. Your physical container could be a room, park, or coffee shop where you feel safe. Your mental container should be a way to get in touch with yourself instead of allowing responsibilities or expectations to take your attention and run.
Sounds idyllic, right?
I actually think that this is practical and available for all of us. So how do we do it?
Pay attention to how you’re feeling. This might mean being with some uncomfortable emotions like stress, anxiety or disappointment. Only by identifying these things for what they are can we unarm them and move past them.
Don’t expect perfection. This is true for yourself and everyone around you. We’re all human and that means nothing will ever be perfect. Embrace imperfection as part of the experience of life.
Indulge in something you enjoy. No, I don’t mean an online shopping spree. Pick something small that you love and really enjoy it. Maybe it’s your first sip of coffee, or holding a warm mug. It could be the ten minutes you carve out to read before bed, or a morning jog. Truly indulge in the whole experience of this activity.
Check in with yourself. Ideally, this is in a way that you could do it anywhere. Maybe it’s taking a deep breath or focusing on the air leaving your nostrils. It could be becoming present to feeling the bottom of your feet. Pick something that works for you that you could do on stage, in the classroom, or by yourself.
These are just suggestions of ways we can create a container for ourselves - a place to feel and recognize our emotions and situation. Do what works for you that supports your wellbeing.
The goal is not to escape, but rather to help yourself find a way to be in the present moment with a clear head.
Hi, I'm Morgann! Flutist, teacher, aspiring yogini, and life long learner figuring out how to create my way through life one crazy idea at a time.