18 Ways to be a Happier Actor | StageMilk

18 Ways to be a Happier Actor

Written by on | Acting Tips Actor's Health The Acting Lifestyle

We’ve all been there. Nothing’s going your way, you’re exhausted, and you just can’t be bothered to help yourself anymore. Oh, and you just spilt yoghurt all over the floor. We thought we’d write a neat list of simple things you can do to get out of that rut, and become a happier person, and actor.

  1. Start meditating. It is proven that meditation contributes to a more grounded sense of wellbeing. If you’ve only got time for 5 minutes of quiet, then so be it. 5 minutes per day, is better than 1 hour every 3 months.
  2. Train for a marathon/triathlon/competition. An actor’s career lacks structure and often we feel like we’re floating and not working towards any definitive goals, because most of it is out of our hands. Signing up for a marathon, or a competition of some kind, is a great way to feel like you’re moving forward and working towards something.
  3. Try something new. I’m a big advocate of challenging yourself, stretching yourself and trying new things. Flame throwing? Flamenco? Flute? Why not! One day I tried Horseriding for the first time with my cousins, and I discovered it was the most enjoyable, relaxing and adrenaline pumping activity I had ever done! If I’m ever feeling stressed, now I just jump on the back of a horse and walk around the countryside for a while – you physically CANNOT wipe the smile off my face! You never know what your saving grace activity could be, so why not explore?
  4. Assess your diet. You are what you eat! If you’re putting junk into your body, it’s likely you’ll feel like junk too. Cook your own meals – it’s cheaper, and much healthier. I also find cooking to be therapeutic – after a big day, I sip on some Kombucha and chop veggies and enjoy a home-cooked meal. Good food is also essential for energy – if you’re on set from 4am – 6pm, or have 4 auditions in a row, you want to have the energy to not only get through it all, but smash it out the park.
  5. Reach out to friends.  We are inherently social beings, so reach out to your circle of friends and spend some time around other creative, inspired people. The best remedy for feeling down, is to surround yourself with people who care, and who can help pull you out of it. (However this does not mean coffee-shop bickering about this actor, and that director. Gossiping helps NO ONE.)
  6. Go to the theatre or cinema once a week. Get yourself to the theatre or the cinema as often as possible. Find ways to stay inspired. If I see a great film, I’m riding on a high for about a week after it! You are creative, and you are an artist – nurture that side of yourself.
  7. Retreat. Sometimes it’s okay to retreat – to take yourself out of the busy city and the hustle of life, and just take a few days to rejuvenate and revitalise. This could be a structured yoga retreat, silent retreat or meditation retreat. Or it could be renting out a converted shipping container AirBnb for 2 days, turning off your phone, and disconnect from reality for a little bit. If we don’t take time away from the grind, it can wear us down and become unbearable.
  8. #TreatYoself. Donna and Tom from Parks and Recreation treat themselves once per month. And I think you should too! Do something for yourself each month that makes your feel warm and fuzzy. It could be anything from buying a new pair of jeans, to watching movies in bed all day on a rainy Sunday. If you separate your ‘treat yoself’ times, from your work times – you’ll find it much easier to focus on the path ahead. If it’s all blurring into one, and you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel – draw some lines. I’m so busy I have to schedule ‘Treat Yoself’ sessions in my Google Calendar otherwise I won’t do it!
  9. Organise your finances. I’m not exactly Wall Street material, I hate organising my finances, in fact I avoid looking at my bank balance as much as possible. But it’s important to put some sort of system in place, so it’s not always on your mind. We’ve got a whole article on budgeting here, check it out!
  10. Vision Board. And before you ask, NO – vision boards are not just for teenagers! It’s awesome to visually remind yourself of what you’re working towards and collate images that inspire you. My screensaver is a digital vision board – I look at it first thing in the morning and before I close my laptop at the end of the day. You could also do it on a pinboard, or collage, or in your diary. Whatever works for you.
  11. Learn from the best. There’s not much use in taking advice from an actor friend who’s on the verge of giving up, and has lost all their passion for the craft. Learn from the actor’s who are passionate and in love with the work. I find Podcasts a good way to discover and listen to artists, and I often find myself taking note of things that are discussed to add to my vision board for later! Check out the top podcasts for actors and how to consume them here.
  12. Write out your goals. Set goals for 1 month, 6 months, 1 year, 3 years and 5 years. Don’t overthink it – they can be ever-changing and you can adjust as you go. It’s important to physically write down what you’re working towards to cement the idea into your mind. Stick them up in your room somewhere you’ll notice them, or stash them in your wallet if you’re a more private person. It’s important to remind yourself why you’re doing this, and what you’re working towards.
  13. Declutter. Marie Kondo the s*#t out of your house! Reduce the objects surrounding you that no longer hold purpose for you. Holding onto those old audition scripts? Chuck em in the paper shredder, and let go of the resentment you were holding on to at the same time. When I’m feeling down or frustrated, I just reorganise my wardrobe and take a load to the charity shop. I often feel bogged down by the amount of physical belongings I have, and doing a clean somehow makes everything seem clearer.
  14. Sign up for a team sport. Not only does releasing endorphins make you feel less anxious and stressed, but working with a team and being social also leads to a sense of achievement and happiness. Either join a pre-existing team and make some new friends, or make your own team. Sometimes I get so tired of being competitive about acting, and playing a competitive game of Touch Footy is like pressing the reset button.
  15. Connect with family. We are busy! But whether family is 200 miles away or just down the road, make sure you make time to connect with family. They are the people who love you unconditionally, and though they can frustrate you to no end, they can also offer lots of support.
  16. Ask for help! Whether it’s seeking professional advice from a counsellor or psychologist, or talking to a friend, let someone know if you are struggling. When you genuinely reach out about your struggles you will be amazed by the response. Saying how you feel out loud can be a massive first step.
  17. Work on your acting! It’s amazing how many actors I know that are struggling, and it’s simply because they aren’t doing the thing they love. You don’t have to book a feature film to do some acting. Find a monologue or scene, and work on something.
  18. Give away something. Ok, this article is already bordering on some self help advice, but this one is massive. I think so many actors struggle because they see themselves as lacking. But actually you have a lot. A lot more than most. Can you give away some books, or clothes, or even better – some time? Volunteer at a charity or with your local community theatre.

About the Author

Indiana Kwong

is an actor, filmmaker and sometimes social media manager based in Sydney. I trained as an actor and filmmaker at the International Screen Academy in Waterloo, and everything else I learnt from Google and sheer willpower. You can find me in short films, web-series, TVC’s or Instagram (I spend a lot of time there.)

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