WHAT IS ANXIETY?
“The second I get to the festival, I’m riddled with anxiety. Even to this day, even after I’ve done thousands of shows, I still get anxious and I’m not really having fun until a couple of songs in.” Flume [aka Harley Streten]
Worry is a common human experience, one that visits all of us from time to time. It’s generally made up of thoughts, emotions and responses to uncertain situations which might play out in our lives and affect our personal wellbeing or the people we care about. Worry can be useful at times, if it helps us solve problems or make important decisions. But sometimes this worry takes the wheel and begins to steer many of our waking thoughts. With so much worry on one’s mind, the body may then begin to react as if it’s in a constant state of threat – with chronic tension, shallow breathing, nausea, trembling and numbness following suit.
Working in a high-stress and unpredictable industry like music can increase your risk of experiencing anxiety. According to our survey findings, over one-third of music industry workers reported having been diagnosed with anxiety in the past.
ANXIOUS? You’re not alone.
According to our survey findings, over one-third of Aussie music industry workers reported having been diagnosed with anxiety in the past.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
A GP or registered psychologist might recognise anxiety as a problem for you if you’ve regularly experienced a bunch of the below symptoms over a six month period:
- Persistent worry about things that are out of proportion to their potential impact
- Perceiving situations, events and people as threatening, even when they aren’t
- Constant overthinking, catastrophising and imaging worst-case scenarios
- Inability to set aside worry, relax and calm down
- Difficultly concentrating, focusing and feeling like the mind “goes blank”
- Muscle tension or aches
- Trembling, fidgety and restless
- Fatigue and trouble sleeping
- Nausea, diarrhoea or digestive issues
It’s important to note that some of these symptoms might also be due to the side-effects of medication, or drug and alcohol use.
G FLIP SHARES HER EXPERIENCE WITH ANXIETY DURING THE COVID PANDEMIC
Anxiety can worm its way into your life, contributing to challenges at work, at home and in your relationships. It can also impact your physical health. It’s really worth learning more about it and getting help if you think you might be experiencing anxiety.
Anxiety appears to have a biological basis that evolved with us to help maintain our survival. Back when we existed in tribal communities for hundreds of thousands of years, it made sense to remain vigilant about our own and our tribe’s wellbeing. After all, if we were attacked by bears or plagued by starvation, it would likely be game-over.
Now, we exist in a world which is a great deal safer, however, our brain is still wired to pick up on things around us that might be interpreted as potential threats. When we find a threat, our nervous system switches into ‘Fight or Flight’ mode, revving up our heart rate, speeding up our breathing, making it hard to relax or focus. When this mode becomes our default, it can wreak havoc on our physical and mental wellbeing.
Anxiety is exhausting. But it can be successfully managed through a range of therapeutic techniques, which include talk therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Mindfulness practices. Sometimes, medication can assist in the treatment of anxiety too.
Anxiety can present itself in a number of ways. Here’s a mini-breakdown of some of the types you might have heard of, or encounter.
Generalised Anxiety – Chronic worrying about a range of issues. Usually, anxiety starts to impact energy levels, sleep, mood and clarity of thought.
Social Anxiety – Excessive fear of situations in which one may be judged, worry about embarrassment or humiliation or concern about offending someone.
Phobias – Intense anxiety about specific objects or situations. Often those with phobias go to great lengths to avoid what they fear, sometimes at great personal cost. For example, fear of spiders, public speaking, small spaces, flying, being in a crowded room, etc.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – Intrusive unwanted thoughts (obsessions), such as fear of forgetting to turn things off or of being contaminated, which cause anxiety. The person who feels this anxiety can only be relieved by performing certain rituals (compulsions) such as washing hands repeatedly, checking or ordering.
Post-Traumatic Stress – Distressing flashbacks in the wake of a serious traumatic event (as if it were recurring), intense distress at exposure to reminders of it and a desperate avoidance of any reminders. This occurs when a person believes they, or someone they are observing are in immediate risk of harm. According to our mental health survey, almost 11% of music workers have been diagnosed with PTSD in the past.
Panic Disorder – Episodes of overwhelming anxiety that feel uncontrollable, often known as panic attacks. In a panic attack, a person may feel that their heart is pounding, have trouble breathing, feel dizzy or lightheaded and experience a sense of impending doom. Their hearing and vision may also be altered.
Anxiety can be isolating and disruptive. Alongside anxious symptoms, people with anxiety might also feel shame, confusion and embarrassment about what they’re going through. If you are concerned about someone you think might be experiencing anxiety or any other mental health condition – don’t wait. Reach out to them and support them using the following action plan:
CHECK IN: Find a quiet and private space to check-in and ask how they’re doing really. If you believe they’re at risk of suicide, ask them directly. To learn more about how to talk to someone about suicide, check out our free, online Suicide Prevention Training program
LISTEN: Ask open-questions and listen non-judgementally. People with depression often experience shame and guilt about having these thoughts and feelings.
GIVE: Give reassurance and information. Remind the person that you’re there for them and want to do what you can to help.
ENCOURAGE: Encourage the person to get professional support. The best place to start is booking an appointment with a GP or calling our Wellbeing Helpline on 1800 959 500.
GUIDE: Guide the person to learn more about anxiety, self-help and other support strategies (such as the resources below).
READ MORE ABOUT ANXIETY AND HOW TO MANAGE IT
HOW TO TAKE ACTION
Anxiety can require support that is tailored to the individual , and usually that can mean teaming up with a mental health practitioner for guidance and support. Anxiety doesn’t have to be forever – here’s what you can do if you or someone you care about is experiencing it.
- Open up and talk about it. Whilst it can be uncomfortable to have convos about topics like anxiety and mental health, it is often the first step to facing it, and getting help.
- Ask for help and support as soon as you notice yourself struggling. Reach out to family and friends, or give us a call on the Wellbeing Helpline ~ a helpline dedicated to to supporting folks working in the Aussie music industry. It’s free, confidential and available 24/7.
- See (or encourage someone to see) a GP to discuss symptoms and support options. (Aussie residents are also eligible for the Mental Health Care Plan, which can save you a good chunk of money off sessions with a registered psychologist).
- Find a mental health practitioner that’s right for you (ask around, get on Google, or ask your GP for recommendations)
- Check out these free resources:
Remember: If you, or someone you care about, is in crisis or at immediate risk, dial 000 now.
HELPFUL APPS TO HELP YOU TRACK & MANAGE ANXIOUS SYMPTOMS
ARTICLES ABOUT ANXIETY IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY
Heaps of musicians and artists are open about their own experiences with anxiety. We’ve curated a playlist featuring songs exploring what anxiety might look/feel/sound like.
CHECK OUT OUR ANXIETY LIVE PANEL + FREE ACTIVITY BOOKLET
On My Mind: Social Anxiety and the Fear of F***ing Up
Social anxiety is super common but it can be disruptive and isolating when you’re trying to make a living making music. Join us for this 60-min live panel, featuring Nkechi & Cyrus, exploring anxiety & how to manage it.
DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE ANXIETY ACTIVITY BOOKLET HERE:
WANT MORE? GIVE THESE A LISTEN…
Strategies for Managing Day-to-Day Anxiety | 47 MIN
The Anxious Achiever
Anxious Achiever podcast has 45 episodes full of stories and helpful advice on thriving with an anxious brain. In this episode, host Morra Aarons-Mele and former clinical psychologist Alice Boyes chat about the best daily habits and strategies to help manage anxiety.
Anxiety & Depression – It feels like you’re always getting ready for surprise doom with Felicity Ward | 59 MIN
Mental – The Podcast to Destigmatise Mental Health
Australian comedian Felicity Ward explores the interconnection between several common conditions and shares her perspective on mental health recovery.