How to know if you’re having a bad day - or a burnout

Do you sometimes identify with Riri? Not because you’re a bad girl or boy (everyone loves a bit of occasional naughtiness), but because:

There's something 'bout that work, work, work, work, work, work. When you a gon' learn, learn, learn, learn, learn, learn. Me na care if me tired, tired, tired, tired, tired, tired

Except that you’re not shaking your booty in a dancehall club, but rather working your arse off towards achieving, or keeping up with, a successful career in music.

You want that great roster/hit record/successful tour/cash in da bank, or to even simply survive in this competitive, instable business, where work culture can be toxic, and where staying on top and relevant is a constant concern. Living off your passion, in an industry where playing hard is also part of the deal, doesn’t mean it’s all fun and games (and booty shaking) though. The danger of burning out is REAL.

With all this talk of burnout, and since social media insists life in music is just a giant party, how do you know if you’re actually having one?

If you identify with the symptoms below, you’re already in the middle of a burnout. It happens gradually though, so be on the lookout if any of those signs starts to show up, so you can correct your course of action before burnout catches you.

It looks like something like this:

You have a crazy schedule, and feel chronically stressed and anxious. You’re always tired, with no energy - which is not surprising really since your job equals a lot of late nights. It’s also hard to relax and sleep at night, and waking up can be a daily struggle. You may start to suffer from physical ailments, which is your body telling you something is off-balance. Self-care is not exactly high on your list of priorities, you just don’t have the time, or you may not be interested (sex, drugs and rock’n’roll right?)

You work hard - because you love your job, you’re ambitious, you can’t say no to offers and may have to be available 24/7. You push through, but the excitement and motivation may gradually decrease. Your brain starts to get foggy and unfocused on a regular basis, and you don’t feel very productive or accomplished anymore. Hours spent behind the laptop or in the studio, and not much to show for it. You may end up losing track of why you chose this career in the first place, becoming cynical or resentful, and in some cases you start to dread going into work or starting that tour.



You’re in a bad mood more often than not, feeling irritable, negative or depressed. It’s increasingly hard to manage your emotions (even when you’re not on a comedown) and you regularly feel overwhelmed, losing perspective on what truly matters. You operate your entire life on a constant fight or flight mode.

It’s like you’re not the person you used to be - and you miss him or her! You can start feeling like a failure, and have so little energy that you may want to withdraw from the world and hide under the covers - which is tricky when your job asks you to be social.

It’s tough to live like this, so you try to find coping mechanisms. You may use sugar, caffeine (or worse) to keep awake, and prescription drugs to fall asleep;  you may use drugs, alcohol, partying, TV or food to try and escape those nasty feelings -  and it’s bloody hard to resist the temptations when they’re all around you;  you vent to friends or family to take some pressure off, but don’t want to be always complaining either.

None of this really works in the long term, unfortunately, but you carry on, trying to hold it together; or you may start to feel hopeless, and believe that this will never change.

If that’s you, I understand how you came to feel that way, and please know that you’re not alone - burnout is the bane of modern society. It doesn’t have to be like this though. You deserve SO much better my dear.

Imagine having more time for yourself, your friends and family, and other activities outside of music (yes, there’s a life outside of music!). Imagine finding the joy in what you do again. Picture yourself feeling relaxed, confident and mentally and physically balanced - able to work and play and enjoy your career in music, without the pain.

That’s what you deserve: not just to survive like Destiny’s Child, trying to get out of the clutches of burnout, but to enjoy each day in the unique way YOU define success.

Like Arianna Huffington said:

the current male-dominated model of success - which equates success with burnout, sleep deprivation, and driving yourself into the ground - isn't working for women, and it's not working for men, either

Nothing changes until something changes.

As you become aware of the issue, you can begin to take the necessary steps towards recovery. Want a guiding hand supporting you through this and stop burnout from coming back? Check out my program details for music professionals and for artists.

Don’t recognise yourself in the symptoms above but this sure looks like someone else you know? Share this with them so they know they’re not going cray-cray!