Winter is coming, as John Snow said, and with it a whole bunch of inconveniences that are not very good for the physical state nor for the morale! This tends to push a lot of people into the infamous winter blues. But no! That’s all history! Here are 5 tips to apply daily to stay afloat all winter…
1- Keep a practice schedule
(despite the days getting shorter)
Yes, as it says in the title, the days that are getting shorter often have a bad effect on your regular routine! You come home from work at 6 pm, it’s been pitch black for an hour and your body is screaming “get to bed”! But it’s important to keep a routine despite the darkness, otherwise you might quickly find yourself feeling brought down by the season, listless and constantly tired.
A good way to remedy this is to stick to a small private schedule, structured around your practice sessions with your instrument! That doesn’t mean you have to spend the evening or the entire Sunday working on scales! But, as with sport, setting yourself one or two 30-minute / 1-hour slices to play your instrument at fixed times forces you to ignore thoughts like these: “It’s already dark, make an herbal tea, watch Netflix and call it a night. ”
2- Stand up and play!
(Keep being physically active)
Going along with our first point, the days that get shorter tend to shorten the window when people are typically active. And all the more so for musicians whose instrument is traditionally played in a seated position. The absence of physical activity gradually pushes you to feel more and more tired (e) and it is good neither for the body, nor for the morale!
So to counter these effects, dear musician friends, GET UP, STAND UP! 🙂 Once again, and I am speaking especially to the accordion and sousaphone players among you, we don’t mean playing standing for 4 hours straight until your vertebral discs look like layers of puff pastry! Almost without exceptions, playing standing up is possible for most instruments. Guitarists, bassists, saxophonists, no hassle with a strap, and it is surely even a position in which you play regularly. Pianists and harpists, it will surely be more of a challenge than a seated position, but it is doable and a good exercise to get out of your way. Drummers, it’s good, you are already moving enough… you can go to point 3. All that to say: remember to get up to relieve the back and shoulder muscle strain from too much computer time, and to move while playing. This is a great exercise for musicians who will have to perform standing on stage in the future, and your body will thank you for it!
3- Adapt your playlist to your activities
(Synchronise your heartbeat and brainwaves to music)
If you’ve ever looked through any article on music therapy and the effects of the music you listen to on your heart rate and even the rhythm of your brain waves, you already know where I am coming from!
Winter (and we can add the current confinement situation too), it is often synonymous with a lack of motivation when it is needed, and a lack of rest when it is needed. The lack of natural vitamin D and all the other benefits of fresh air and sunlight push you into a physical and psychological zone in between: not really motivated, not really tired either, so you sleep poorly and your productivity takes a big hit!
The solution? You guessed it: the music! But beware, it is good to take a closer look at what can help you. For example, do you have trouble getting out of bed to start working (from home)? Try a catchy playlist and fast tempos. Subconsciously, your heart / brain rhythms will try to mimic these rhythms and synchronize to boost your motivation. Time for lunch break or need a break half an hour after work? We do the opposite and we adapt slower rhythms to give your heart time to rest, softer songs to promote concentration on you and make the most of this rest. The same goes for the minutes before bedtime. It may seem a bit far-fetched but without realizing it you will feel the difference at the end of the week!
4- Meditate with nature/city sounds
(Trick your brain to fight off isolation)
Yes, the sounds of rivers or beaches, it’s not just in the CD department at your mom’s essential oil shop!
It has a prerequisite: meditation, or at least the will to meditate, so I know it’s not for everyone. But for those of you, already practitioners or just curious, here is a technique that has been proven and can go a long way to help keep your spirits up.
It’s relatively easy to trick your brain into thinking that you are actually in the forest, on a deserted beach or sitting along a river. Putting yourself in a meditative mind state by just closing your eyes and focusing on your breathing, while listening to a recording of natural sounds, can, in a matter of minutes, trick your brain into thinking that you are really in nature. This is not black magic but simply a conditioning anchored in your subconscious: your brain recognizes the external signals specific to these situations and, in the absence of visual clues proving the contrary, will produce dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, endorphins and other chemicals that naturally occur in your body that cause happiness. Half an hour a day is enough, in the morning or in the evening, when you want. Let the experience repeat for a few days and you will soon find yourself much more relaxed than you used to be.
5- Keep on/ start writing music!
(Boost your inspiration and creativity)
The fifth and last trick to overcome the winter blues and the current state of confinement: creativity! This is probably the biggest loss for musicians during these dark hours (except, of course, in cases of unemployment and struggling to make ends meet).
No more outings, it’s dark all day, it’s cold, limited contacts and exchanges …all those things that push you to get out of your comfort zone, go on an adventure and renew your inspiration are unfortunately not around, and it has a devastating effect on your creativity and imagination.
This is why it is more important than ever to give yourself the time to express it all in music. These feelings of boredom and frustration. There’s nothing better to get rid of them than to put them in music or text, and to replace them by the joy which comes from a freshly written piece. You will go from 0 to 100 in record time!
Obviously this is not the recipe for instant happiness, but these few tips have helped a lot of people, so why not you? 🙂 Feel free to share what cheers you up during the winter in the comments!