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Studio Health: 5 Ways to Bring Wellness to Your Workflow

Studio Health: 5 Ways to Bring Wellness to Your Workflow

If you’re serious about making music, then you’ve certainly got your work cut out for you in 2019.

Between writing songs, mixing your music, and music promotion, it takes an incredible amount of work to make your mark in today’s competitive music world.

It can be easy to focus purely on your work and not on taking care of yourself.

Musicians are spending more time working in front of screens than ever before. You might think your work as a musician is radically different than that of someone who works in an office, but you both actually face a lot of the same physical and mental challenges.

Spending countless hours in front of a computer is the reality for an increasing number of musicians working today. It can lead to negative health impacts if you’re not careful!

Here are five tips for taking care of yourself during your workflow:

It can be easy to focus purely on your work and not on taking care of yourself.

1. Don’t sit for too long

Sitting is obviously the most natural position for mixing, producing, or writing music at a computer, but it’s a bad habit to get into.

According to the Mayo Clinic, sitting too long increases a person’s risk of obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Yikes.

Here’s how to break up long stretches of sitting during your workflow:

Set alarms to remind you to stand up and walk around

It’s a big challenge to remember to stand up and move around during your workflow. Instead of relying on your memory, set consistent alarms on your phone or computer to help.

Work at a standing desk

This won’t work for every music-maker, but it’s a great option for some.

A standing desk will get you out of your chair, but even standing all day isn’t great for your health.

To fully fight the negative impacts of sedentary work you’ve got to move around periodically throughout your work sessions.

To fully fight the negative impacts of sedentary work you’ve got to move around periodically throughout your work sessions.

Use a step counter

Using a step counter is pretty much the opposite of music’s dangerous aesthetic, but who cares.

Setting hourly goals for how much you need to be walking to stay healthy is a good way to keep yourself accountable and in motion throughout your workflow.

2. Take stretch breaks to ward off wrist problems

Computer work can be rough on a person’s wrists. Repetitive motion can cause serious damage to a person over time.

Nasty issues like stress fractures and carpal tunnel syndrome can crop up when you don’t take care of your wrists.

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Taking frequent breaks is a big help here. Stretching and strengthening your wrists can relieve pain and stave off work-related complications.

Learn more about hand, wrist, and finger stretches:

3. Give your eyes and ears a rest

I’ve already mentioned the importance of taking breaks during your workflow a couple of times, but I can’t stress how important it is for maintaining your eyesight and hearing.

Music is work we all love to be doing, which means we have every incentive to stay put staring at a screen for hours on end. But doing so is bad news for your eyes and ears.

Whether it’s a sticky note stuck on your monitor or an alarm on your phone, take breaks to protect your eyes and ears.

Whether it’s a sticky note stuck on your monitor or an alarm on your phone, take breaks to protect your eyes and ears.

Here’s more tips for treating your eyes and ears well during your workflow:

Minimize computer glare and don’t sit too close

The relentless blue light of the computer screen is no friend to your eyeballs. There’s even a terrifying-sounding term to describe what happens when your eyes are negatively impacted by working at a computer: Computer Vision Syndrome.

To fight CVS you have a couple of options:

  • Reduce the glare on your screen as much as possible. This might take moving your desk away from a window or getting blackout curtains.
  • Arrange your desk in a way that sets your screen 20-28 inches away from you. Turn the brightness down if it’s too bright.

Pay close attention to volume and monitoring equipment

Hearing loss is a major issue facing musicians that most aren’t taking seriously enough.

Hearing loss is a major issue facing musicians that most aren’t taking seriously enough.

A month, week, or even just a couple of hours of high volumes can damage your hearing forever.

Even scarier than the prospect of losing hearing is picking up a case of tinnitus, which causes a person to believe they’re hearing a constant roaring, clicking, humming or hissing sound.

Keep your working volume low, and wear ear plugs when you record loud material like drum or heavy guitar parts. If you love music and want to make it the rest of your life, take this seriously.

You should use desk speakers to mix and produce your music. Over-the-ear headphones can be used at low volumes, but never use earbuds (the headphones that go straight into your ears).

Earbuds aren’t designed for music engineering and composition, and they can do serious damage to your hearing over time.

4. Break up work sessions with exercise

The sedentary demands of modern music-making can be rough on your body and your mind. A great way to combat this is by breaking up your sessions with vigorous exercise, and you don’t even have to leave your studio to do it.

There’s now an endless amount of free exercise video options available online.

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Yoga videos are great for blowing off steam from sessions, and HIIT workouts (high intensity workouts) are also a good bet because they pack tons of great exercise into small 15, 20, or 30-minute increments.

Exercise fights depression and anxiety, boosts memory, and is great for maintaining a creative mindset.

Exercise fights depression and anxiety, boosts memory, and is great for maintaining a creative mindset.

5. Watch what you eat and drink while working

If you’re in the habit of slamming a dozen energy drinks and wolfing down a couple of fast food hamburgers during your sessions, you should consider making an effort to make better dietary choices while working.

Music is your pure focus while you’re working, which means you’ll probably reach for food choices that are the easiest. This comes with some big drawbacks, though.

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Consider planning ahead for what you’ll eat and drink during your music sessions with better choices instead of making impulsive ones at the last minute.

You’ll feel sharper, more creative, and your body and music will be better for it.

Stay healthy in the studio

Taking care of your physical and mental health is important for your musical productivity, workflow and peace of mind.

It’s easy to get so focused on making music that your health suffers. But it’s never worth it.

Try these tips to make sure you’re doing the best you can for your body and mind in the studio.

Patrick McGuire

Patrick McGuire is a musician, writer, and educator. He creates music under the name Straight White Teeth and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.

@Patrick McGuire

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