It starts with why finances are even considered wellness. This is Musician Health Resource afterall, not Musician Financial Resource. But to me musician health absolutely cannot be separated from financial health and here are three reasons why.
1. Money is the Number One Cause of Stress for Americans
Both a 2018 study by Northwest Mutual and a survey by the American Psychological Association (APA) show that money is a significant source of stress for Americans. In fact the APA study states that 72% of participants reported feeling stressed about finances in the last month while nine out of ten Northwest Mutual participants state that nothing makes them feel happier than having their finances in order.
This mental stress affects our bodies in two major ways. One, the excess of tension in the mind translates to tension in the muscles which being to tighten as a result. Two, the overwhelming stress in our mind can begin to dull the communication to our nervous system slowing motor capability. Slowed reactions and movements increase our risk of injury.
Not only that, but those with money stresses experience more migraines, more ulcers, higher blood pressure, and have more difficulty sleeping.
2. Financial Anxiety Increases Other Mental Health Issues
Coping mechanisms, depression and a string of bad decisions are all frequent results of financial anxiety. According to the 2017 study "Can Music Make You Sick", 71% of musicians struggle with anxiety and panic attacks and 68% experience incidences of depression. The data shows that musicians are already three times more likely than the general population to suffer from depression.
Participants of the study also stated that while engaging in music was therapeutic to their mental health, a career in the music industry was destructive to it. Reasons cited for this included poor working conditions, the profound difficulty of sustaining a living, inability to plan for their future or time and already low pay.
Since musicians are already in a high-likelihood category for mental health struggles, financial anxiety is only going to add to the burden.
3. Financial Disagreements Place High Levels of Strain on Relationships
Having secure and supportive relationships is one of the keys for a successful music career. Supportive parents, understanding friends, fellow professional colleagues and a loving partner are invaluable sources of comfort and encouragement to a working musician.
Unfortunately, financial strain places high levels of strain onto existing relationships. Often we cave to getting that meal out with a friend that we can't afford or investing money into an album that the rest of our band wants to make before budgeting. Social or career pressures make us feel like we "have to do it" even though the expense goes straight to our credit cards.
Occasionally our parents might complain that we "need to get a real job" and our significant other or children may be driving up expenses that we feel powerless to handle.
In fact, finances are now the number two cause of divorces in America behind infidelity and it is the number one issue that couples fight about. In two out of every five couples someone lies about money but more than half of couples who claim healthy marriages discuss finances at least once a week.
Finances affect the three big pillars musicians need to maintain a healthy and productive career: Physical Health, Mental Health and Relational Health.
When one of these pillars is out of balance, it's very difficult to keep in a creative head space. When finances threaten to take out all three of these, it's impossible.
The truth is right now our music community has been hit by something out of our control. With COVID-19 shut-downs, lock-ins and a postponement or cancellation of all our work for the foreseeable future, musicians who frequently live paycheck to paycheck are going to suffer.
I'd like to start with reminding you to check in on our list of Financial Aid Available to Musicians. This is the most encouraging place to start! The list is being updated daily so make sure you keep checking back.
In addition, twice a week I'll be adding blogs with tips and encouragement for you in this trying time.
After checking the list I encourage you to do the following things:
For your Physical Health Pillar
Drink some water. Seriously. Put down the booze. (I know, supposed-healthy-girl over here's been drinking away her sorrows too...) Make it a goal to drink your recommended intake of water every day and track it. What else do you have to do?
For your Mental Health Pillar
Write down three things you're grateful for. Yep, it's that gratitude thing. I've been trying to do ten a day and I have to admit, today was really hard. I got to six and thought, "There isn't anything else!" I finally got ten but it was difficult. So start with three. Make them specific like, "Josh sent me a text to see how I was doing." or "I found a good smelling candle in my closet that's now making the apartment smell peaceful." Whatever they are, find them and write them down.
For your Relational Health Pillar
Be the person who checks in on someone. I can't tell you how much it has meant to me when someone I hardly know sends me an email that says "How are you doing?" Like, this empath over here dissolves straight into tears when someone wants to see the pictures I colored in my adult coloring book. So be that person! Share your gratitude list, share your adult coloring book pictures, ask to see photos of their pets. I guarantee you it'll help. And, I hope it goes without saying, steer the conversation away from the negative and toward the positive.
Remember, you are not alone and you can have a life of less pain and more music!