What are the top trending songs right now? What kind of mashup will I do next? What kind of deal will I negotiate with the new venue that wants to hire me? Which DJ equipment should I buy?
It’s easy to get wrapped up in all the exciting facets of being a DJ while forgetting about your own self-care. However, it’s equally important to have a healthy foundation as you embark on and grow your DJ career.
In honor of Mental Health Awareness month in May, BPM Supreme encourages you to nurture yourself and your health. After all, a DJ in the right headspace can bring the best party, excel at their craft, and have fun doing it! Here are five tips for taking care of yourself as a DJ.
1. Maintain a positive mental attitude.
Do not compare yourself to others.
It is easy to envy the DJ with a million Instagram followers, but every DJ has their own path and story. Focus on what you have to offer and what your fans appreciate about you. Whether you have 10 or 10,000 followers, there are people out there who love what you do. If you are well-trained and practice your craft, believe that you are bringing value. Plus, by focusing on your craft, you will naturally gain authentic and loyal followers.
Don’t let negative criticism get to you.
No matter how great you are at what you do, there will always be people who insult your work or even your personal attributes. This will most likely happen as you become more successful. Sometimes people want to give you honest feedback to help you improve, but often their comments come out of envy or malice.
Think of the guy who stares at the DJ on stage and says, “he didn’t even do that blend right,” when the blend was perfect. Often this is because it makes them feel better about themselves to put down those whose talents shine. Occasionally, these comments can be valuable and help you improve, so stay confident in your craft, be open to feedback, but remember to brush off anything that’s not useful.
Understand that success takes time.
Building a solid music library, practicing DJ techniques, and understanding genres at a deeper level, all take time. So do building a following, building relationships with venues, and gaining real-life experience. However, these are the things that will make you a well-paid and sought-after DJ.
Even if you invest this time, there is no guarantee of success, but it does become much more likely. If you go into the game with patience, it is easier to improve your craft in a disciplined way and avoid early disappointments when your career doesn’t yet meet your grand expectations.
Do not put others down.
This does not help you achieve your goals; it only hurts others, hurts your own soul, and makes you look petty. If you envy someone for some reason, think about what you envy and try to bring that out in yourself. For example, if they look better in their photos, hire a professional photographer to do yours.
Remind yourself what made you become a DJ in the first place.
With the pressures of being a working DJ, it’s easy to get stressed out and jaded. However, think about the moment you decided to become a DJ, about the deep connection you feel with your favorite songs, and about the best moments at a party when you hear inspiring songs. Then, the challenges of the job become easier to handle.
2. Exercise and eat right.
You have probably read and heard about how daily exercise and healthy nutrition lead to a longer life, better well-being, and fewer health problems. Some people thrive on intense diets and gym routines. However, exercising and eating right does not mean you have to go to the gym seven days a week or cut out all sugar and carbohydrates. Such extremes are often hard to maintain and decrease your quality of life.
Exercising could mean choosing to walk rather than drive, playing soccer with your friends, or hiking on the weekends. Eating right could mean portion control, adding a salad to your dinner, or choosing to take your coffee unsweetened.
3. Get enough sleep.
According to the CDC, short sleepers suffer more from chronic health conditions such as obesity, heart failure, and depression. Lack of sleep also affects your ability to focus and perform well as a DJ. DJing often requires working late hours into the night. To get the sleep you need, you may have to clean up your gear quickly, avoid chitchat with staff or patrons, or skip the after-party. You can also get a better night’s sleep by skipping caffeine at night, maintaining a regular sleep schedule, and avoiding over-stimulating activities at least an hour before bed.
4. Practice maintaining focus.
There are many ways to do this, for example, meditation or breathing exercises, or counting and sensory awareness exercises. The ability to focus will help you immensely as a DJ. If you focus on how the music affects your audience and what they are doing on the dance floor, you are better able to choose the right songs and perfect moments to drop them. Being able to listen carefully to how songs are layered as you blend them before dropping the beat allows you to deliver a seamless performance.
The art of DJing is a great way to practice focus because tasks like beatmatching require great attention to detail and listening skills. The ability to focus improves overall mental well-being because it allows you to avoid unhealthy and destructive thinking patterns.
5. Don’t be afraid to seek help.
Mental health concerns are still stigmatized more than physical health issues. If a man breaks his arm, he has no problem telling his friends that he had to see the doctor. But if he seeks counseling from a therapist for social anxiety, it’s somehow seen as a sign of weakness.
Anxiety and depression are also very common. It is easy to deny mental health problems and instead self-medicate with alcohol or drugs, especially in the party settings where many DJs work. However, doing so does not address the uneasiness that leads to substance abuse in the first place.
Addictions and substance abuse exacerbate these problems by incapacitating you, alienating you from others, negatively altering your brain chemistry, and creating painful withdrawal periods. If you do suffer from an addiction, there are many support systems, such as AA and NA, as well as substance abuse counseling. Take the first step by talking to a professional or someone you trust.
DJs have the power to bring positive energy and enhance people’s quality of life through music. Music is medicine for the soul, and DJs who are in a good headspace are better able to heal others through music. That’s one of the reasons it’s so important to take care of your health as a DJ. Plus, great health makes DJing a lot more fun!
About the Writer
Anna Awe is a DJ, producer, and singer/songwriter based in Los Angeles, CA. She is passionate about helping DJs and artists use entrepreneurship and digital media to pave their own paths in the music industry.