As a musician, it's difficult to turn down work and the scheduling of gigs can be inconsistent and vary from week to week. However, inconsistency is not good for the artist or the mind.
I recently finished reading the book, "Daily Rituals: How Artists Work" by Mason Currey. The book outlines the daily habits and routines of inventors, composers, writers, painters and other creatives to showcase the disciplined lifestyles successful artists live by. Not only does a sense of structure bring a more fruitful career, but having a consistent morning routine is one of the best strategies for beating depression.
A morning routine creates a sense of purpose, it's why we get out of bed in the morning. On days that I snooze, I literally lose the ability to will myself out of bed. Once I'm laying in the bed, I feel like I can never get back on track. Instead of picking my day up where I am, I spend even longer lamenting and regretting the things I didn't accomplish. My routine is therefore mandatory every day, including weekends. Here's what my mornings look like:
6:30am - Alarm goes off after 8 hours of sleep, I set a new 15 minute alarm and lay in bed doing a body scan meditation finding places where I have stressed or clenched in the night and setting my intentions for the day
6:45am - Yoga YouTube video
7:30am - Breakfast is always the same, 1/3 cup oatmeal with chia seeds, cinnamon and an egg on top, pour over coffee
7:45am - Bible reading, prayer journaling and quiet time for gratitude, goals, requests and forgiveness
8:30am - Writing, either comedy or for the blog
Noon - Lunch
12:45pm and on - Music which might include practicing or teaching until dinner
Because my afternoons are less predictable, I always aim to have my "self-employment" work done in the mornings where I can work with a clear mind and discipline. In the evenings, if I'm not working, I either go running, go to a comedy show or get together with a friend. I cook most of my meals and I always make sure to get eight hours of sleep.
At the start of every week I outline my goals for the week on sticky notes. Each day holds no more than five tasks I want to accomplish with a start by the most important task. I give myself one day off every week where I purposefully break my work routine and head to the mountains, museums or beach to unplug and recharge.
Routines and rituals are so powerful for mental health, physical health and creativity that everyone from TIME magazine to the field of medicine and business entrepreneurship can agree on their undeniable benefits.
Having a routine gives us a reason to get out of bed, get out of our pajamas and start the day. It makes us more inclined to socialize or be active and it puts in a mental space to know that we can recover and succeed. If you're looking for a place to start finding discipline in creating your own routine, this sample chart from WebMD can help you asses your goals and your actual responses to them.
Depression is unique to each person so make sure your schedule reflects your needs. If you get tired, nap. If you get energized, run. If you get creative, find time with your music that's not for work.
Remember, it's all about less pain and more music!