Effect of stress on playing guitar

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TADodgerTADodger Frets: 21
Ok, I started typing this a load of times and then stopped, because I don't find it natural to talk about this, but strangely, I am more concerned about it as it involves playing guitar than I might be for some other parts of my life.

I am a bit stressed at the moment, work issues, a bit of a health matter, some family stuff all seem to be leading to a lack of ability to play guitar. I mean, the desire is still there, but I sit down pick up a guitar and..........nothing; can't even focus on the simple riffs. (and even can't be a**ed to play them) 

I 'm a home player, but I get (got) a lot of joy, and,ironically wind down, from picking up a guitar and spending time just playing. In my own way.

That seems to have completely stopped at the moment. Anyone relate to this, or, do I need therapy?
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  • AlnicoAlnico Frets: 3571
    That's been my life all year.
    Happened tonight.

    When "Shit" get's above a certain level I could smash the guitars against the wall just for looking at me
    I fall into ruts quite easily and that always impacts my playing.

    Practise?
    Ha.
    These days I focus on "Do I want to play at all and if so, will it last more than 5 minutes?"

    On a good day I enjoy it but if it's not a good day, someone else can play......I often hear myself saying out loud.."What's the point?"

    As for therapy, if you find one that works,...let me know?
    ;)
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  • ToneControlToneControl Frets: 3578
    that's a shame, I find that playing is like meditation for me, and is always relaxing

    I thought that when you stop doing what you normally enjoy, it's a possible symptom of depression, which is pretty commonplace and treatable. Having said that, if circumstances are extreme, it could be a short-term reactive issue that will heal itself anyway
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  • TADodgerTADodger Frets: 21
    @Alnico - I guess that it may be that 'spike' for me right now.

    @ToneControl -thats how i used to be, but just now its like, pick up a guitar and after a few half hearted strums, put it down again.

    I'm not usually a moaning sort, just want to know if anyone else has felt like this and got over it, and how?

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  • I second that @ToneControl ;

    I obviously know nothing of anybody's personal circumstances so I'm not suggesting this as anything other than something to consider, but depression has a hideous knack of destroying your enthusiasm for the things you love. It is a recognised symptom so, if you have even an inkling that you may be experiencing depression then please consider asking for help. Your GP or local branch of MIND would be good first ports of call.

    It is really important to talk about this stuff and keep ourselves well.
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  • ToneControlToneControl Frets: 3578
    I play less if there's a lot of stress from work or family, but not for long

    you just need to work out if it's a long-term or a short-term thing
    based on experience with those close to me, if you are finding it hard to be amused by DVDs of your favourite comedians, you're in the club  with a large number of people, and need a visit to your GP to get rebooted, rather than putting up with it

    if not, it's probably just a short-term phase that you will move on from on when the external stress decreases.
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  • ToneControlToneControl Frets: 3578
    er, I also don't spend all my time trying to play other people's music properly, which probably makes for a more relaxing experience
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  • koss59koss59 Frets: 478
    All I can suggest is trying to listen to loads of different types of music whilst exercising, this kills two birds with one stone as the exercise kills depression and stress and finding new music might get you inspired to play again. All easier said than done though, good luck mate.
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  • TADodgerTADodger Frets: 21
    @mikem8634 - Thanks, The thing is I find it so variable. One day I am fine and the next ...... and it can be days or weeks in between.

    I struggle to link that to medical depression but welcome the thoughts and advice.

    I just want to get back to enjoying my guitar......
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  • TADodgerTADodger Frets: 21
    @koss59 - the exercising point is interesting. I row for exercise and sport and at this time of year it moves mostly to indoor machines and is not a regular.

    I regularly feel like i need to try new music but that desire is also lost with my lost desire to play guitar.

    I will add that I still function perfectly well at work .

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  • @TADodger Fair enough, I was hoping that I was over-reacting. Does it feel like a rut? Could it perhaps be helped by trying something new and different? New bit of kit or collaborator? New playing routine? A target to aim for?

    Those are the types of things that have helped me freshen things up and reinvigorate in the past.
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  • RogerRoger Frets: 20
    Playing guitar, washing up, walking the dog, re-wiring your pedal board! It’s  all meditation! It’s not about sitting motionless cross legged, it’s about blocking out everything else in your life and just being.

    I practice martial arts and what you learn is that process and repetition of process is the key to learning, not because you do one thing more but because you do everything else less. If the guitar is stressing you out stop and mow the lawn. We’re pretty primitive beasts it’s just about balancing the things we do
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  • Winny_PoohWinny_Pooh Frets: 1911
    I've developed some hand strain when I've been stressed but could never keep away, I just enjoy it too much even more so as I get older. 
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  • Echoing @Roger and @koss59 I can't agree enough with the importance of exercise and meditation. Exercise creates all the feel-good chemicals and meditation creates all the feel-good states.
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  • TADodgerTADodger Frets: 21
    @mikem8634 - Are you proposing GAS as a solution. I could easily justify that   :)

    @Roger - I really don't think its the guitar stressing me, I am concerned that it is other things causing stress and putting me off playing guitar. Hadn't thought of it the other way around. 
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  • TADodgerTADodger Frets: 21
    @mikem8634 - I agree with you about exercise, rowing is probably my second favourite thing after guitar (relatively), followed closely by riding / racing motorcycles and it (rowing) really is cathartic. Motorcycles are adrenaline highs and guitar playing is meditation.

    Somehow all of that is not working right now.
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  • mikem8634mikem8634 Frets: 45
    edited November 11
    Could help, it's worked for me. GAS that is.

    Exercise-wise it's hiking with the dog for me. A good audio-book (Moby Dick atm) and I'm away. I come back with all manner of creativity going on. Then, when I'm shattered, full of endorphins and good ideas, that seems to be the best time to play guitar.
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  • TADodgerTADodger Frets: 21
    edited November 11
    @mikem8634 - sorry, what could help, GAS?
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  • FreebirdFreebird Frets: 417
    edited November 11
    Bit of a long shot, but have you tried recording a few original tracks into a laptop? I find this to be a very soothing exercise, as creativity is a very powerful experience, and mood extremes tends to lead to interesting stuff!

    Start with a chord progression and then add some lead/embellishments. Then work out some other sections, verse/chorus/bridge, etc. If you can't sing, work out some melodies with a cheap 25-key midi keyboard and a piano VST.

    I actually lost complete interest in guitar playing due to a lack of focus, but doing this simple thing brought me back. I've also turned into a bit of a handy composer, which I never ever expected! 
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  • TADodger said:
    @mikem8634 - sorry, what could help, GAS?
    Yep, bit of post cross-over there.

    Last time I was in a rut a couple of new VST plug-ins helped massively. Got me thinking in different ways. Previously getting my hands on a 12-string electric did the same. Oh, and an ebow.
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  • ewalewal Frets: 584
    Anyone that's passionate about something will have experienced patches where other things get in the way and distract you from what you are passionate about. That's life. Don't worry.

    Unless it gets to that point where your mind is disproportionately obsessing about certain things to the detriment of everything else. Unless it gets to the point that the curtains come down and you exist within a very restricted space  where the main objective is to get to the end of the day, so you can go to bed and sleep for a couple of hours, before fear of the next day and what mundane things it might bring keep you awake in a puddle of sweat for the most of the night.

    If it gets like this, then you need to seek assistance. I did.
    The Scrambler-EE Walk soundcloud experience
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  • TADodgerTADodger Frets: 21
    @mikem8634either you or me are slow, can't decide which ;) 

    Seems like a great excuse for GAS.

    So, I really need someone to buy my Eastman T184 semi hollow (see classified adds) so I can buy a solution to my, possible, stress related guitar playing interruption. 
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  • ewal said:
    Anyone that's passionate about something will have experienced patches where other things get in the way and distract you from what you are passionate about. That's life. Don't worry.

    Unless it gets to that point where your mind is disproportionately obsessing about certain things to the detriment of everything else. Unless it gets to the point that the curtains come down and you exist within a very restricted space  where the main objective is to get to the end of the day, so you can go to bed and sleep for a couple of hours, before fear of the next day and what mundane things it might bring keep you awake in a puddle of sweat for the most of the night.

    If it gets like this, then you need to seek assistance. I did.
    Very well articulated indeed, accurate and visceral, hats off sir.
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  • TADodgerTADodger Frets: 21
    @mikem8634, @Freebird, thank you for your input, I will try your suggestions.

    @ewal - I regularly wake up in the night sweating with my mind full of what I haven't done / need to do, and I expect that most people with mildly demanding jobs/ family's /homes probably do the same. The reason that I posted is because, right now, for whatever reason, I just don't seem to want to play my guitar and i want to know if others ever have that feeling, and what to do about it. As yet I don't feel the things that you state and hope that I never do, but I thank you for sharing and, hoping that it is a distraction, I will definitely try not to worry.

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  • ewalewal Frets: 584
    Look after yourself. xx
    The Scrambler-EE Walk soundcloud experience
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  • TADodgerTADodger Frets: 21
    Thanks man. All advice is appreciated.
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  • GrunfeldGrunfeld Frets: 2131
    edited November 11
    TADodger said:

    I am a bit stressed at the moment, work issues, a bit of a health matter, some family stuff all seem to be leading to a lack of ability to play guitar.
    Are you only finding a lack of focus and enjoyment with guitar, or is this extending to other areas of life that you value?
    If it's just guitar then it's unlikely to be a problem.
    I've just got in from playing a gig, had fun night.  But it's not always fun.  Nothing to stress about.
    But if you're not finding enjoyment generally then have a chat with an expert in these things.  Losing general enjoyment and focus isn't what you want.
    FOR SALE: Stephen Fry,  MYTHOSNEW EMG -mini-humbuckers;  :  Akai Headrush E2; Marhsall 1960a 4x12
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  • p90foolp90fool Frets: 5439
    GAS is a very short term solution which can actually be negative in my experience. 

    If the rest of your life is fine but guitar playing is not inspiring you, just stop playing the guitar. 

    If neither your finances not other people depend on you playing then just don't, it's bound to feel like a dead end occasionally under those circumstances. 

    Doing other things for a while is not only healthy for you, it's healthy for your guitar playing. You'll come back to it having absorbed new ideas without even realising it. 
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  • mburekengemburekenge Frets: 373
    edited November 11
    .
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  • Jez6345789Jez6345789 Frets: 696
    Change change change

    i learnt along time ago all the so called coping methods are useless in managing stresses for me the only solution is to make a change. Something when stressed that is often hard to do. But ultimately my stress is always less when I have pushed my self to break the vicious circle.

    i think people me included at times just get stuck in a loop.
    Where we want the perfect outcome and everybody is happy so we stay in the loop rather than go against that.

    Note it wont be the perfect solution to please all but just do it the outcome is always far less damaging than you expect.

    ultimately change things up at work talk to your boss tell them this ain't working same with family.

    health get it sorted if needed take the time drop stuff that makes the health worse and tell people that's why you are doing this.

    i walked away from a situation with my sister last year where she no longer speaks to me 12 months down the road. I know it was the right thing to do took me a lot to do it and one level it does not make my world complete. What I do know and can live a whole better and rationalise if she cannot see the damage she was inflicting on me and people around her. That's her problem not mine and my stress level is way less for not being in her recurring mess.

    i naturally fall into being a people pleaser in all aspects of my life. Which ultimately leads to stress. It's taken me time but now I am still a people pleasure I have just learnt there are times you have to change and remove yourself from the equation


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  • ToneControlToneControl Frets: 3578
    edited November 11
    @TADodger I explored the possible medical side because you mentioned stress and therapy, but it could well be nothing like that

    The other side to a lack of interest in playing is boredom with what you are doing with the guitar
    My solution to keeping guitar playing over the years has been writing music:
    get a multitrack program for your computer, and compose. The way that chord progressions drag out different solos and arrangements from you is much more interesting than just playing the old standards.

    Also: can I ask what kinds of guitar you play
    Sometimes I don't feel like playing electric, but I also play acoustic, so can vary what I play quite a lot
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