An Actor’s Guide to Keeping Your Shit Togther
Even if you don’t consider yourself an actor by trade, finding ways to stay afloat can make all the difference if you have to “perform” in life. For the past six months filming for indie projects, taking acting classes, rehearsing for a stage play, and keeping up with life at home, it’s been quite a whirlwind. Plus, there are many other factors that influence the mind of an actor: auditions, relationships, memorizing lines, constant critiques, etc. There has to be a way to balance it all with grace.
Grab Stress by the Balls
Actors eat stress for breakfast. I believe it’s safe to say that the actor and anxiety go hand in hand. The best way to get on top of those pesky nerves that creep inside and take over the body like a vibrating, alien host is to give them attention. When we notice the times we feel anxious, jittery, or unsettled and we call attention to them, we take their power away.
I like to sit with myself any way I can when I have nervous thoughts or crippling anxiety. I’ll go to another room, to a bathroom, or to my car to meditate. I’ll take some deep breaths and just sit there. Taking the time to sit with my breath for at least three minutes makes a huge difference in any situation. It’ll relax my mind so much that the thought causing my hands to sweat doesn’t scream so loud.
Stress is a part of the journey. When we work with it, we get further down the road with a little bit more ease.
Be Aware of Awareness
As an actor I take note of my own behavior and expressions, especially of those around me. Awareness is key to finding ways to be authentic in performance art. Although this is a cool concept, it can cause lots of self-criticism and circling inner dialogue. At least, for me it does.
I find it extremely helpful to remind myself that we are all connected in this world. I remind myself to get out of my own head and become aware of what others need, feel, and desire. A great way to do this is to adopt the habit of people-watching. I’ll go somewhere public, order a drink, listen to a classical music playlist in my headphones and observe other people. Put down the script and turn on your antennas. Take a walk outside and see what you observe. It’s a great way to get out of our heads and into a deeper understanding of the beautiful cycle of life.
Get Off of Social Media
There are so many times we’re bombarded with images of other people’s lives and adventures on social media that we forget to enjoy our own. As actors, prone to expressing the slightest amount of emotional turbulence, it’s important to have boundaries around our triggers. Since having a social media account is demanded in entertainment, we must find ways to both stay active and stay focused on our craft.
I don’t open any social media apps for the first three hours of my day. This way, I can start the day with my own thoughts and I feel more equipped to “scroll” later on. It also helps to have planned posts through apps like Hootsuite, and Plannonly so I don’t have to deal with the organization of posts when I need to be present.
Limiting screen time on social media is really helpful as well. If you know me, you know I don’t touch my phone after 10 pm in addition to all that. In order to stay in the most positive mindset possible, I’m strict with myself, and it really makes a difference.
Get Sensual about Sensory Gratification
Finding peace in certain smells, sounds and imagery provides a sense of normalcy and balance for the chaotic life of an actor. Every morning, I light incense that burns by an open window, and the smell promotes a calming start to the day. Most times, when I write I need to hear nature sounds (running water from the fish tank, birds chirping outside, rain against the window, etc.) to be focused.
Sticking to a sensory routine creates a strong foundation, giving us a stronger ability to face casting directors, journalist reviews, and difficult scene partners.
Keeping essential oils around can be a lifesaver. I’ll pull out my eucalyptus roller ball and rub some on my wrist to inhale when I’m feeling uneasy. It’s a scent that calms me down in any high-pressure situation.
Draw a sigil and keep it in places it can be viewed at different times during the day ( on your car key chain, on the back of your cell phone, in your wallet, on your toothbrush holder, etc.) Sigils are little reminders that whatever you’re going through is leading you toward the ultimate goal you want to achieve. They’re like little cheerleaders.
Whatever you do, however you do it, you must keep steady along the course. When you’ve done the work to have your head on straight, it’s essentially better for everyone. Focus is sharper, memory is stronger, casting will be impressed, and relationships are easier to maintain. Life is full of potential. If the heart is receptive, there’s nothing we can’t achieve.