It’s ok if you feel a little out of sorts right now.
Personally, I’ve experienced days of feeling completely in control and calm only to get to 6pm and have a panic attack. I’ve also had days where all I can do is mope around and cry as I wash my hands for the 25th time, overcome with anxiety and fear.
And I’ve also had days where I feel like I got a lot done, progressed my career, made my life better, and even got in some quality TV binging.
What I’m saying is, it’s ok to feel all the things right now. There isn’t a roadmap for what we’re going through, and we need to ease up on ourselves because frankly, yes, that can feel pretty scary.
So first and foremost, be kind to yourself. Second, know that whatever you’re going through, there’s no right or wrong. But there is a way you can begin to cope in a healthier way.
Acknowledge your feelings—but then move forward
It’s not going to do you any good to pretend you don’t feel the things you feel so before anything else, you have to acknowledge them, and you have to truly feel them. If you’re angry, scream into a pillow. If you’re scared, let yourself have a good cry. If you’re excited (more on that in a minute) do a little dance. Whatever you feel, just own it.
But then, if it’s a negative feeling that isn’t serving you (IE: fear, anger, etc) you’ve got to let it go. It’s about making a choice to feel it and then choosing to move on. So no, it’s not easy. But as much as you may want to stay in that dark place until the world feels more certain, you have got to find the strength to see the light at the other end of the tunnel.
Trust me on this. It might feel like pulling yourself out of quicksand to start, but you’ll feel so much better once you start to put your body and mind into action.
Let go of unnecessary guilt
Something weird happened to me the other day. I got excited about something and then—I felt guilty about it. In a time when so many us are suffering, it can feel wrong to get excited or feel optimistic, and I think that’s a huge part of what’s holding us back. So let me clear the air once and for all and say that it’s ok to feel good. It’s ok to feel excited, or to look forward to something. It doesn’t make you a monster. It makes you a human being coping the best they know how.
This comes in many forms—being excited over a new career prospect. Releasing new music. Livestreaming with fans. Planning for (and talking about) the future. You aren’t being insensitive just because you’re not miserable. You deal with this in the way that works best for you. It isn’t hurting anyone to feel positivity, or to release your genius into the world. In fact, I’d argue it’s necessary.
It’s even ok to still be releasing music and playing live streams, and charging for online concerts and merch right now. You are not helping anyone by being down in the dumps as an act of solidarity and you’re definitely not helping the economy recover by giving away everything for free because you feel bad.
Repeat after me:
It’s ok to be happy
It’s ok to charge for my music, merch, and livestreams
This doesn’t mean don’t be sensitive to what’s going on or don’t adjust things accordingly, but it does mean don’t let fear or guilt make you into something you’re not. That doesn’t help anyone.
Make self-care a priority
It’s a weird thing but, the more I need to take care of myself, the more I make excuses not to. I tend to know when I need taking care of (my body lets me know through headaches and migraines) but it’s almost as if the worse it gets, the more steadfast I become in pursuit of doing anything but taking care of myself. Instead of relaxing or doing yoga I’ll…wash the dishes, clean the house, answer emails, anything to feel busy and not take care of myself because taking care of myself feels lazy.
Now more than ever, we need to listen to our mind and our bodies. If instinctively you know it’s time for a break, then my gosh, take a break. If ever there was a time to be kind to yourself, it’s now.
Plan for the future
It’s so important to remember this won’t last forever. That we will be able to walk outside without fear that someone is getting too close, that we will hold live shows and tour and shake hands again. That we’ll be able to hug our parents and loved ones. That things will, eventually, return to a new form of normal that feels a lot like the old one. And keeping that in mind, while still planning for it is so crucial to getting through this in a healthy manner.
So plan that tour. Maybe not the dates but you can research venues, opening acts, merch to sell. And plan your album release that you wanted to do this fall. Find a publicist or make connections with writers and playlists. Build your social media engagement because there’s no time like the present. Just don’t stop planning for tomorrow because this will get better.
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Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR, where her artists have seen placements on Alternative Press, Noisey, Substream, Spotify and more as well as the THRIVE mentorship community—an online community that provides indie artists with affordable year-round mentoring from music industry experts, and much more. She loves baked goods, a good book, and hanging with her dog Sawyer.