Stress and anxiety are all too common in the entertainment industry. Combined with the regular stressors of a personal life, anxiety-inducing career situations can make actors feel like there’s no way to handle it all.
But it’s important to know that you can handle it. You can manage an acting career and a personal life, even when things get stressful. Here are a few techniques I’ve found to be particularly helpful in dealing with the daily stresses and anxieties of life as a performer.
Step back for a minute.
It’s easy to get stressed when it seems like everything is happening all at once. Rather than try to immediately deal with all the different things coming at you, take a deep breath and remove yourself for a few minutes to get your mind off the issues at hand. Take a walk, listen to calming music, read a book—anything that will help you get a fresh perspective.
Divide and conquer.
When facing a task that makes you anxious, divide it into a series of smaller steps and tackle them one at a time. Completing several smaller tasks rather than one big one will make the stress more manageable and increase your chances of success.
If you’re feeling anxious or stressed over something you have coming up—an audition, a performance, a meeting, etc.—visualize yourself doing it successfully. Let’s say you’re nervous about performing in front of a large audience in a few weeks. Before the day comes, imagine yourself up on stage, flawlessly performing to rounds of applause. Self-visualization is a great way to prepare yourself and get rid of nerves.
Another helpful technique is to carry a small notebook of positive statements that make you feel good. Whenever you come across an affirmation that makes you smile or lifts you up, write it down. Then, when you’re feeling stressed or anxious, read the notebook to yourself.
Remember that no one can predict the future. Even if the thing you feared does happen, there are circumstances and factors you can’t predict that can be used to your advantage. Maybe you miss the deadline for a project you’ve been working on for the last few months. Everything you feared is coming true. Suddenly, your manager tells you that the deadline is extended and he forgot to tell you. This unknown factor changes everything. Remember: We may be 99 percent correct in predicting the future, but all it takes is for that one percent to make a world of difference.
In dealing with your anxieties as a performer, learn to take it one day at a time. While the consequences of a particular fear may seem real, there are usually other factors that can’t be anticipated and can affect the results of any situation. Get all of the facts and use them to your advantage.
Our anxieties and stresses can be difficult to manage in this business, but the more control you have over your them, the better off you’ll be in the long run.
Always seek the advice of your mental health professional or another qualified healthcare provider with any questions.
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The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.