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Milwaukee Musician Brett Newski Focusing On His Mental Health During The Pandemic

Cortney Armitage
Brett Newski couldn't remember the last time he had a weekend off before the pandemic and has used the forced time off to work on improving his mental health.

Before March of 2020, Milwaukee-based musician Brett Newski says he couldn’t remember the last time he had a weekend off from performing.

So, having to stay home and do nothing was uncomfortable for Newski, but as he sat with himself in his newfound freetime, he realized he could use this time to work on his mental health.

“The forced leisure, if you want to call it that, it became a really creative time and I just got to the bottom of a lot of things I need to do as far as working on himself,” he says.

Newski says he realized he needed to take his brain to the mental gym and work out. He had always said he didn’t have time to take time out during his day to make sure his brain was healthy but that the pandemic gave him that him.

He started practicing mediation in the form of painting while listening to music. His song choices can range from old French café soundtracks to Weezer.

This new mindset has made him realize that he doesn’t always want to be the person who is super busy and now tries to prioritize his mental health over saying "yes" to every career opportunity.

“It’s fun to hustle and do well, work hard at your craft and get better at it, but at a certain point it’s crucial to your mental health to start saying 'no' to things that make you absurdly busy,” he says.

But Newski hasn’t completely stopped working during the pandemic. Last October he released a music video for his new song, “What Are You Smoking?,” in which he performs in a human-sized hamster ball across Door County.

BRETT NEWSKI - What Are You Smoking? (indie rock road trip)

Newski says as the world becomes safer and returns closer to normal, he wants to make sure that everyone has just a little more fun in their lives.

“Obviously, we want to take care of the people who need help but being a little bit more whimsical about living and taking a few things less seriously is gonna feel really good,” he says.

Part of that goal is included in his new book/album, It's Hard to be a Person: defeating anxiety, surviving the world, and having more fun. Filled with drawings he’s created over the past three years, the book captures Newski’s use of humor to deal with anxiety and depression.

While he says the book isn’t meant to give advice, he hopes to “save you some headaches on the long n’ winding road of life in your brain.”

Ben Binversie was a producer with WUWM's Lake Effect program.
From 2020 to 2021, Jack was WUWM's digital intern and then digital producer.