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When you hear that an actor is burned out, it usually means he's been working on a successful series for way too many seasons and is physically and mentally exhausted. Or maybe an actor's been performing in a hit Broadway show that's been running for years, and if she has to say those damn lines one more time, she'll go stark raving mad and kill everyone on stage. This concept of burning out is usually associated with working actors, but that's not always the case. I believe a struggling actor can burn out too. After all, the actual definition of "burned out" is "exhausted as a result of longtime stress."

When you're starting out in what has to be the most difficult career in the world, it's important that you learn how to manage stress, because you know what? It's going to be a big part of your life. Stress is the monster that lives under your bed and comes out late at night when you're most vulnerable. It's the mysterious voice that appears from out of nowhere, telling you time is running out because you're getting a little bit older every single day.

We all know the life of a struggling actor ain't easy. Finding the right agent or manager is tough. Trying to figure out your next move is even harder. And on top of that, you're constantly trying to save money so you can afford headshots and classes and websites and all the other little details that cost an arm and a leg. Is it any wonder actors are always stressed out?

Well, it doesn't have to be that way. Stress can be controlled by making one little adjustment in the way you think. It involves learning to balance life with work. You see, most actors tend to put life on hold so they can pursue their dreams. They believe that to succeed, they must be extremely driven, type-A people who give 100 percent and will not stop unless they're dead. That kind of thinking might work if you're a Terminator, but it's a hard road to travel if you're a human being.

That's why I want you to take a step back and examine the part of your life that has nothing to do with acting. Do you have plenty of healthy friendships with positive people? Or are you the type who stays in touch with emails and texts? Having a solid support group can make all the difference in your life. So I want all of you to get out there and start connecting with people face to face. Try making some new friends. Have a few laughs. And leave your acting worries at home.

I also want you to take a close look at your health. Being in good shape is a great way to fight off stress. Are you working out enough? Do you run? Have you even considered a yoga class? Exercising will not only improve your health; it will make you a more attractive and positive person.

Remember Ferris Bueller? The kid got it right when he told us, "Life moves pretty fast. You don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." So every now and then, do yourself a favor and take a mental-health day. Just ignore the business and go visit a part of your city you've never explored. Or go check out a museum you've never visited. Whatever works for you. Just do it.

Look, acting isn't everything. There, I've said it. And if you want a long-term career in this business, you need to learn how to take a step back and live your life. So relax, go out with friends, take trips, do the things you enjoy.

If acting is based on life experience, how can you be a successful actor if you have no life?

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Secret Agent Man
Secret Agent Man is a Los Angeles–based talent agent and our resident tell-all columnist. Writing anonymously, he dishes out the candid and honest industry insight all actors need to hear.
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