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Times Are Tough (But So Are You): Staying Sane & Healthy During Lockdown

A host of proactive ideas for taking good care of ourselves during this uncertain time in the pro AV industry.

Current world events have impacted everyone in some way, whether that’s health-wise, financially or dealing with a way of living that we’ve never encountered before. The music and live event industries were hit early and hard, with large gatherings being one of the first things to be culled from public life. For most people that was no more than a disappointment, but for our tribe it’s had a major impact, with tours and gigs cancelled indefinitely and removing our source of income.

The wider risk is not only to our physical health from the virus, but also to our economic stability and our mental health as we wrestle with loneliness, boredom, and loss of identity. Here are some proactive ideas for taking good care of ourselves during this time. Let’s help each other to stay mentally buoyant, physically healthy, and come out of this feeling well-rested and richer in experience.

Make a budget. It’s tempting to bury our heads in the sand, but now is not the time to leave bills unopened or ignore our bank balance – instead, take an honest look at our finances and figure out a plan. What are the minimum weekly outgoings and where do things need to be cut back? Seek other work to add income? Is there any help available? How long can our savings last? It’s uncomfortable, but knowledge is power, and being sure of where you stand puts you back in the driving seat.

Acknowledge that this is hard. Our roadie family is used to doing it tough and getting on with it – that works great for making the show go on, and there’s a lot the rest of the world could learn from the touring attitude! But it’s really common to look back on difficult periods of life and think “I don’t know how I got through that,” and it can be helpful when we’re in the thick of it to step back and say “You know what, this is a really rough time – I’ll get through it, but right now I’m finding it hard, and that’s OK.”

Think in terms of set periods of time. “Indefinitely” is a really scary timespan. None of us know when gigs will resume, but it can be helpful to mentally block time into 12-week chunks and then reassess. It’s a great way to get focused on accomplishing something – you can change a lot in 12 weeks.

Get a structure. You may welcome the time to let days unfold freely, but our familiar touring days are very structured. If you’re struggling with mental well-being right now, introducing a regular daily schedule might help in feeling more stable.

Get a project. Throughout the whole of human history, we’ve created and innovated and made things – it’s what we do. Humans need a purpose in order to feel content, and having a project (learning an instrument, building a piece of furniture, writing your memoir – there are infinite possibilities) can help keep our head in a good place. This is the perfect time to try something different – the internet has tutorials on just about every new skill imaginable!

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Refresh old skills. Many manufacturers in our world of production are offering free online training and seminars, so it’s a great use of time to enhance our expertise for free and increase our value when we get back on the road.

Get active. Different countries have different restrictions about going outside for exercise, but if it’s permitted and you can stay clear of others, a daily walk in the open air is a prime mood booster. There are masses of free workouts and classes on YouTube that need no equipment, and most trainers are doing inexpensive Zoom sessions that are a fantastic way to be held accountable if a little motivation is called for. If your health could use a boost, imagine what a change can be made in 12 weeks. Plus, exercise is an instant and accessible way to get the happy chemicals like endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin moving – it’s just as beneficial for our brains as for our bodies.

Eat well. If you’re bored and eating badly, it’s a perfect chance to fill some time by learning to cook from scratch and really nourish yourself. The vast majority of feel-good chemical serotonin is produced not in our brain but in our gut, so supporting its production by eating fresh, unprocessed food can make a dramatic difference to mental wellbeing.

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