Resolutions shouldn’t just be for the New Year – we are learning, growing, and evolving every day – but it’s a great time to take a serious look at our health habits.
As an actor, your health has an especially relevant impact on everything from your looks to your audition anxiety. You only get one body in this lifetime, and yet many people are more aware of their car breaking down than they are about themselves. Your physical self is more obviously a part of your career in this business than in most so there’s no time like the present to think about taking more responsibility for your health.
Avoidance of aggravating substances can be a huge step in the right direction. Simply (or not so simply!) avoiding sugar, tobacco, and excess alcohol while cutting down on gluten, dairy, and caffeine and will help you in a myriad of ways – one of them being your nervous system. I assume that everyone is aware of the negative impact that alcohol has on your emotions. Caffeine seems benign in comparison, but there have been numerous studies linking caffeine with anxiety and insomnia. Both caffeine and tobacco are stimulants that release adrenaline into your bloodstream. Adrenaline can cause many of the symptoms of panic, fear, and anxiety. Sugar is a stimulant that causes a massive swing in insulin levels, which can ultimately lead to anxiety and its fun cousin, depression. Gluten grains like wheat, barley, oats, and rye are difficult for many people to digest. The gelatinous buildup of gluten protein in the blood can cause an overexcitement of brain cells, which leads to – you guessed it – anxiety. Dairy products create inflammation in the body, which in turn can cause numerous problems for many people. I know, I know. These are all comfort substances and are not so easy to give up! There are studies that say sugar is as addictive as heroin or cocaine. Maybe you can try avoiding these potential triggers for a day or two. Everything starts with baby-steps!
Everyone knows how important sleep is, and it's especially true for actors. Without the proper amount of sleep, you're not going to be as mentally sharp as you can be. That obviously can affect your audition or your performance. Not being at the top of your game is detrimental to anyone's profession, but an actor has even more to be concerned about. You look like crap when you're tired with puffy, baggy eyes and sallow skin. Yeah, that's really attractive. This is even more worrisome if you're filming something that will one day be in a movie theater or displayed on a 52 inch HD TV!
There are many other lifestyle changes and choices that will help you take care of “your instrument." Choose whatever exercise routine suits your unique self, acupuncture, massage, whole foods, etc.
All of the above are important tools that can help you to discover your body’s natural wellness. Think holistically and never underestimate the great health benefits of a positive mental and emotional outlook.
In body, mind and spirit, strive every day to be the best you possible.
Marci Phillips is the Executive Director of ABC Casting. The opinions expressed in this article belong solely to Marci Phillips and do not necessarily reflect the views or endorsement of ABC, Disney or any of its subsidiaries. Marci is the author of “The Present Actor – A Practical and Spiritual Guideline to Help You Enjoy the Ride” available on Amazon.com.