Mindfulness may cushion the blow of stressful environments and experiences.– Bergson et al., 2023
Stagehand life is one of the most exciting and rewarding things in the world, but it can also be one of the most physically and mentally taxing. Early mornings and long nights coupled with hours of driving from gig to gig on too little sleep. Not to mention the abundant job hazards like overexertion, heat, struck by, and crush and pinch hazards to name a few. On top of it all, we have our own personal lives to maintain. We’re all providers, caregivers, survivors, and dreamers.
All of these stressors compound and compound until we reach a breaking point. Without intervention, these stressors can lead to anxiety, depression, or suicide. That is unless we advocate for and take care of ourselves. One way we can protect our mental health is by practicing mindfulness.
Mindfulness – the capacity for cultivated non-judgmental attention to present moment experience – doesn’t decrease the stress of touring, but it moderates the likelihood of that stress turning into depressive symptoms and suicide risk.– Amber Health via Instagram, 2023
Mindfulness is that moment you take after you’ve signed in for the load out and wait for an artist you enjoy to wrap up their concert for the night. Behind the concrete walls, the thumping bass rumbles through your body, and your heart pounds to the rhythm. You see show-call stagehands and tour roadies weaving between stacks of weathered road cases and even notice the imperfect white paint across the bumpy black texture. The odor of beer diffuses through the air, as you feel the energy from the crowd and crew. You think to yourself, “This is real. I am actually here.”
You are fully present and aware of your thoughts, feelings, sensations, and surroundings at that moment with an attitude of curiosity, openness, and acceptance. No distractions, no judgment, no dwelling on the past or fretting about the future. Good, bad, or indifferent, you pay attention to your thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations, and accept them for what they are without trying to change them. This is mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a skill that can help you stay focused, calm, and centered, even in the midst of a busy and demanding job as a stagehand. By integrating mindfulness into your day-to-day, you can experience a range of benefits that can help you both on and off the job.
Mindfulness can be practiced at any time and in any place. And the good news is, you don’t have to go at it alone! You can work with a therapist to integrate mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) into your psychotherapy, or you can practice mindfulness on your own. Remember, psychotherapy is not just for people with mental health conditions. It’s a way to learn coping skills and improve your overall well-being. Mindfulness-based techniques include guided meditations, yoga, body scanning, and breathing exercises. These techniques can help you stay focused, calm, and centered, even during the most stressful moments of your job.
“Recent research suggests that these approaches could be efficacious in treating many of the contributors to suicidal behavior, including difficulties with emotion dysregulation, stress regulation, depressive symptoms like hopelessness, and symptoms associated with cognitive deconstruction.”
When it is safe, you can do mindfulness-based techniques before driving to the gig, after signing in and while waiting for the safety talk, while on standby, during breaks, and at appropriate moments throughout the day. Here are some tips:
What other mindfulness practices can you do safely on the job? Share them with your fellow Rhino crew!
When you’re not rocking a Rhino gig, try some at-home mindfulness practices:
Share your favorite mindfulness practices with your fellow Rhino crew and let’s all work together to improve our well-being!
Mindfulness teaches you how to stay composed and centered, even in the midst of chaos. While mindfulness cannot prevent stress, it can help dampen its effect. Here are some ways that mindfulness can benefit stagehands:
Mindfulness can improve your overall mental health. By reducing the effects of stress, anxiety, and depression, mindfulness can protect you from suicidal ideation or intent. There are also positive impacts on physical health, such as reducing blood pressure, improving sleep quality, and boosting immune function.
Mindfulness can also help you develop emotional resilience and mental clarity. By being fully present and managing your thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations effectively, you can maintain a calm demeanor and make sound decisions under pressure. Additionally, mindfulness can increase your ability to focus and improve job performance by avoiding distractions, mistakes, and incidents.
Mindfulness is a powerful tool in your mental road case! Stagehand life can be stressful, especially during high-pressure situations like fast-paced load-ins and load-outs, tech rehearsals, or live performances. But, at safe and appropriate moments, mindfulness can be a convenient practice for stagehands who are always on the go. You can try breathing exercises, mindful walking, stretching, gratitude, yoga poses, guided meditation, body scanning, and more!
By incorporating mindfulness into your routine, you can:
Take a few moments each day to practice mindfulness. Give it a try and see how it can support your mental well-being behind the scenes and transform your life on and off the job.
Ask HR if you qualify for on-call employee benefits so that you can take advantage of our mental health benefits.
Think Rhino -the employee portal- has a Resource Library with a link to Mental Health Resources such as crisis hotlines, online therapy services, support finders, and more.
Rhino crew members in leadership roles (supervisors, crew chiefs, etc.) can inquire with management about attaining a Mental Health First Aid certification through the Behind the Scenes Foundation. There are additional mental health tools and resources available on the Behind the Scenes website.
Bergson, Z., Newman, C., George, R. P., Beitz, T., & Zemon, V. (2023). Trait mindfulness plays a protective role in the positive relationships between stress, depressive symptoms, and suicidal behavior in an at-risk population: Music industry touring professionals. Psychology of Music, 0(0). https://doi.org/10.1177/03057356231159217
Keng SL, Smoski MJ, Robins CJ. Effects of mindfulness on psychological health: a review of empirical studies. Clin Psychol Rev. 2011 Aug;31(6):1041-56. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2011.04.006. Epub 2011 May 13. PMID: 21802619; PMCID: PMC3679190.
Newman C., George R. P., Beitz T., Bergson Z., Zemon V. (2022). Mental health issues among international touring professionals in the music industry. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 145, 243–249.
“Psychotherapy: What It Is, Why It Is Done & Types.” Cleveland Clinic, my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/23445-psychotherapy.