Tamsin Embleton is an ex-music industry festival and venue booker, tour manager and artist manager turned attachment-based psychotherapist and touring researcher who specialises in working with musicians and music industry professionals. She is the founder of the Music Industry Therapists and Coaches (MITC) and has compiled the self-help guide “Anxiety Relief & Self-Isolation” for artists and industry professionals to help navigate during this uncertain time, and how to deal with the difficult emotions that many be experiencing at the moment.
–Uncertainty, a lack of control and feeling separated from loved ones can be very stressful and difficult to sit with. Then there’s a variety of anxieties – health anxiety, death anxiety, financial anxiety, job insecurity and the reduction in availability of the usual self-care strategies we have to manage and regulate these experiences, Embleton says about some of the main concerns rising from the particular situation we are in now.
Read the guide here.
How to self-isolate healthily
In a very short time, the lives of most people have been turned upside down. The guide provides tips on how to self-isolate healthily in terms of structuring your day, communicating, considering stress to relationships, exercise and nutrition and then there’s also a section on how to support anxious children.
–The unpredictability and instability of the music industry has always been there, but never quite like this… I think for many people it highlights the fragility of careers in the music business. For those who work in the live sector, income streams are severely impacted – that’s hitting many artists & crew (who are often freelancers), Embleton says.
Moving from a ‘doing’ to a ‘being’ state
For some of Embleton’s clients this situation raises concerns about maintaining momentum, or disappointment over hard work that has now been in vain. Artists & crew also gain a lot psychologically from touring – it’s very validating to see your hard work pay off and to share that collective joy at shows.
–Suddenly, access to those brilliant highs of performing or the sense of mastery achieved by putting on a show is out of reach. If you’ve tied your self-worth to your job role and it’s suddenly on ice, or the high you get from shows is your main source of feeling good – then that’s going to be difficult, Embleton says.
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–Moving from a ‘doing’ state in to a ‘being’ state can be difficult and uncomfortable, especially for the workaholics amongst us who are used to constantly pushing forward, often as a way to avoid difficult underlying feelings, she says.
Amplified feelings of anxiety
Embleton also explains how many experience an internal (or external) pressure to create something, or gain a sense of mastery by writing a magnificent piece of music, producing a work-based achievement or achieving domestically. She points out that during a crises, anxiety and distress runs high, meaning that the focus and playfulness needed to create can be harder to reach.
–Some artist clients have been talking about how this feels like a leveller – that everyone is weathering the same storm (albeit in different boats). Those who are used to living a quieter life may adjust easier than those who have a more active social life.
Embleton developed the guide as the community was heading for a “lock down” and she knew that many of her clients and friends would find this very hard.
–When the sh*t hits the fan, some people become more internally focussed some more externally focused. I tend to focus on the external and want to connect more with people, so this was my way of doing that – of being able to use the knowledge I’d accrued through my client work to support people, Embleton says.
Embleton had been in contact with Mike Exeter (producer for Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Cradle of Filth) and talking about how tough the isolation of working in studios could be. She had also just met with Marcus Blacker from Chapter 24 Records who is a breath-work coach, Emmaline Rasmussen from Sound Nutrition and Helen Buffet from Technogym before making the guide.
–They very kindly pooled their knowledge and offered their insight for free so we could create a guide for Anxiety Relief & Self-Isolation that combined our specialist areas.
Take time to reflect
The most important tip she can give from the guide is to take a deep dive into yourself and try to reflect on what’s happening for you, what’s going on in your body? How do you respond in times of stress? What is your impulse to do? What’s happened to your thought patterns – are you ruminating/generalising/jumping to conclusions/catastrophising or seeing only the negative?
–Remember that this will end. We are in the thick of it right now, but as each day passes we get closer to the end. Celebrate the small wins and think about what is within your control. There might be things you can do practically to support yourself, such as things you could put in place for the future to build in more security, or identifying transferrable skills and creating a back-up plan, she says.
Watch out for increased screen time
Embleton points out that having social contact purely through screens poses a conundrum for the mind – it gives the illusion of physical proximity whilst our bodies register an absence. This conflict can deplete our energy after a while.
–The more time you are sat at a screen, the less time you are moving your body so there will be impacts to your energy levels, which can lead to feeling more lethargic and a lower mood.
There are also possible physical health implications of a more sedentary lifestyle. The blue light emitted from screens can also disrupt the circadian rhythm of the body making it harder to fall asleep if you use screens late at night. Embleton recommends trying to have a clear 90 mins before bed where you don’t use screens and start to allow the body and brain to calm and prepare for sleep. Then there are the other issues that come with social media – envy, FOMO, competition, issues around self-worth.
– It’s really important to connect with people but have a think who really gets you and how best you want to communicate. After the initial excitement wanes You don’t need to be always ‘on’.