Welcome back for more tips on thriving during shelter-at-home! In my first article, I talked about taking care of yourself nutritionally. Here I’m going to cover how to take care of yourself physically.
As actors, performers, or crew members out of work, you likely went from fairly physically-demanding work to being stuck at home. Everyone handled that differently. Some people leaned-into their pre-quarantine routine and not much changed other than perhaps the location of their activity. Others may have felt lost or depressed and didn’t move much at all. Yet others succumbed to over-exercising as a way to get through the long days. It’s never too late to make positive changes. Let’s take a look at some ways to take care of your body.
Look at this time as a gift to take a true assessment of how our body is really doing. If you have a job (boom or camera operator, for instance), are exercising too much, or performing choreography that requires repetitive motions day after day, there is a great risk of overuse injuries. These range from breaks and strains to poor posture.
How are you actually feeling? Does your body feel off-balance from doing things on only one side? Do you hunch over or notice inflammation or pain in your joint areas such as wrists, knees, ankles? A good step to take would be to see your primary care physician and/or a physical therapist. An annual well-check from your physician should be a part of your routine, and they can refer you to specialists such as physical therapy or surgeons to help with issues from overuse. At-home you can focus on rest, flexibility, and strengthening to bring balance back to your body.
Most of us in the industry are go-getters. Used to long hours, late nights, and tough schedules, we push our bodies to the extreme! So take this opportunity to get some well-deserved rest. Sleep, meditation, relaxing with a good book, or having a movie night with your roommates or family are good for the body and soul.
If you’re someone who struggles to have a consistent sleep schedule or has chronic insomnia, take this time to work on sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene is a sum of factors that affect our sleep quality. This includes the comfort of bedding, temperature, light, winding down, screen time, food and beverages, scents, and more.
Here are some quick tips to sleep easier:
1. Set a time to start your bedtime routine.
Most people would say set a bedtime, but that can rush the process of winding-down which actually helps you to sleep. Instead set an alarm to tell you when to start getting ready for bed. That means turn off screens, brush your teeth/grooming, turn down the lights, do any self-care such as reading for fun, rubbing in lotion, having a cup of herbal tea, whatever relaxes you.
2. Set your bedroom up for success.
Make sure your bed is a sleep sanctuary, choose (within your budget) a comfortable mattress, sheets, blankets, and pillows. Try to keep the room cool (a suggested 68 degrees Fahrenheit or slightly cooler). Shut out distractions including screens, noise, and other stimulating things from your bed including work to do and clutter. Try a fan or white noise machine if silence or jarring outside noises keep you up.
3. Create a regular wake up time.
Just like getting ready for bed at the same time helps you get to sleep, starting your day at the same time will help you be sleepy at the same time. This might be different than pre-COVID wake-up times, just be consistent with your current needs.
In a time and physically demanding field, you might not have thought much about joy in movement before now but think back to how you played as a kid. Movement was fun, intuitive.
With all the exercise trends and requirements for work, you may have forgotten along the way that movement can, and should, be fun! I highly suggest learning to really listen to your body. This means recognizing what will feel good today. Are you craving cardio, strength, stretching, or rest? High-intensity with a sick beat or low-intensity flow? Is there a new class or activity you’ve been dying to try? Why not do it now?
Of course, there are times when it’s good to push yourself to get off the couch and move, but not every day. It’s good for our bodies to have at least one rest day per week. This allows for muscle repair and helps prevent overuse injuries.
In our next part of this series, we’ll cover mental and emotional health during quarantine.
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and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.