Unpredictable. Busy. Changing. Three words that make up the basis of a performer’s life. While the ever-changing, unpredictable, thrill-filled lifestyle has it’s many pleasures, it can also bring with it it’s fair share of stress. Here I share with you my own ways of dealing with stress in relation to audition rooms, over-filled diaries & avoiding burnout!
1. Create A Work Schedule
It’s easy to let structure fall to the wayside when you have a creative career. However I have learned that by applying structure to your workload you can work much more effectively & productively and as a result free up some of your time. I recently drafted up a workday checklist that I use to keep me focused. Structure your day or week in accordance to what you need to get done over that time period. This includes everything from applying for jobs & agents, rehearsals, training, admin, taxes, classes, photoshoots, social media etc etc. Make a checklist for each day of the things you need to get done to hold yourself accountable. This means less things will slip by unnoticed and undone meaning you will have less to worry about.
2. Organisation & Planning
Number 1 leads straight into this one. Put aside the time to actually plan WHEN you are going to work. If you don’t work a 9-5 job, then you need to create an alternative work week for yourself. Unfortunately as a dancer we many times have to be our own accountant, promoter, marketing manager, makeup artist and more. Set aside designated “work time” for yourself. Make it consistent. This consistency will automatically start to lighten your general workload.
How many times have you finished an audition in the afternoon only to realise you haven’t eaten since 8am that morning? We all do it. It’s hard not to. However, if you don’t want the stress & business of life as a performing artist to take it’s toll on your body, you gotta fuel it up! A top tip from me if you’re short on time in the mornings is to make an overnight breakfast the night before. I use an empty jar, fill it with flaxseed, chia seeds, oats & rice milk, let it soak overnight and when you wake up you have a no-cook, portable breakfast! Boom!
My favourite of the list. I use this baby religiously especially in audition scenarios. It’s so easy to get caught up in our nerves that we end up getting in our own way. ETF has allowed me to find a way to reduce this occurence. No idea what it is? Check out this video for an explanation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JiD72cZ5mcU Seems crazy? It works! For me at least. Give it a try. Next time you’re freaking out an audition, get on that karate chop point!
5. Meditation/Breathing Exercises
Another useful audition nerves remedy. I try to start each day with 10 minutes of meditation to train my mind. I also use a 5-10-5 breathing technique during auditions that my yoga teacher taught me (all that time you’re waiting at the side for your group to be called..). Super simple. Breathe in for 5 seconds, hold for 10 seconds, breathe out for 5 seconds. This works wonders for subtly calming yourself down and allowing yourself to do your best.
6. Learn To Say No!
Sometimes, when I have a hectic month and my diary is full of auditions, castings, shows & shoots, it’s impossible to give as much to other aspects of my life as I would like to. Learn to say no to other people without feeling guilty. If you can’t be fully present with someone because you are overtired or distracted, you may as well have spent the evening alone. Honour other’s time by accepting it only when you know you can be fully present.
Which leads me perfectly to my next point! When you are in situations that do not involve your work or crazy schedule, BE PRESENT. Turn your phone off or at least leave it in your bag and do not check it. Give the people who are around you your full attention. Give your mind and body a break and allow yourself to be social, have fun and CONNECT with your friends, partners or family.
8. Sleep & Rest!
Kind of a no brainer but if you don’t want the effects of stress to take their toll, you better make sleep & rest just as important as everything else in your diary. Learn to compromise. There have been date nights that have been turned into duvet days or a night on the town swapped for tea time in my life. Pace yourself! Your mind & body will thank you. You’re not a machine, you’re a human being and as much as we wish we could operate at full speed 100% of the time, the truth is we can’t. Take pleasure in that and allow yourself to slow down every now and again.
The ultimate cure for stress in my opinion. Fill your life with things and people that you love. Do things that fill you with love and spend time with people who reignite that feeling inside yourself as you do for them. You’ll soon find that stress will loosen it’s grip.