How do you stay up during the down times? It seems to be one of the most common questions actors face at any stage in their career, from the beginning actor trying to get agent, to the actress who had ten auditions, several callbacks, but no jobs, to the working actor whose series just got cancelled.
Finding ways to stay “up” when things feel “down” is as useful a skill to an actor as crying on cue, and you will need to master it for yourself (and your sanity), because in almost every stage of your career there inevitably will be down times.
No matter where you are in the world, I’m sure every actor can relate to the roller-coaster of emotions we all feel on any given day. It’s easy to be happy after getting a call from our agents that we have an audition, or after a great callback. We’ve all been that elated person on cloud nine, because in that moment it seems like our dreams are actually possible. We are excited to be in the game and have a chance to get up to bat!
So why does that elation last for only about an hour or at best, a day, until time passes, and if we didn’t get the job, we base our self-worth on the current score of the game and instantly feel like we’re losing? How can we lift ourselves back up? Here are…
5 Ways To Stay Up During The Down Time
1. Acknowledge Your Feelings
You’ve chosen a tough career, and you need to make it safe to feel your emotions regarding disappointments, setbacks, and days without auditions. It’s normal to feel angry, frustrated, or even a little depressed at times, and expressing your emotions will help you to release them and move forward in a healthy way.
Writing in a journal about how you feel is a great way to get your emotions out of your head and down on paper, which can help you to uncover what is really bothering you. If you have a good friend who you feel you can share these feelings with, let them know that you are feeling down and would love to just be heard.
Sometimes all you need is to give yourself permission to express your true feelings. Be good to yourself. Take a nap, punch your pillow, have a good cry. Indulge, but don’t over do it. (Be aware that stuffing down negative emotions with food, alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex or excessive shopping can easily become addictive behavior and a quick fix for feeling good that never lasts. If you feel down for several days or weeks, or have noticed self-destructive behavior, please seek professional help).
Find a positive way to release your emotions.
2. Discover Your Passions
Do you ever feel like you are trying really hard and getting nowhere? Have you ever tried to chase a cat around the room to pet it and gotten nowhere because it keeps running away? Does your career feel like that? Like you keep trying harder and harder and getting less and less results? Odds are, people can see how hard you are trying and it is coming off as angst or desperation.
Have you noticed that when you relax, get your mind off “chasing the cat” and busy yourself with something you enjoy, the cat will actually crawl right up on your lap. Now, I’m not saying that you can sit at home, do nothing but pet the cat and have a successful acting career, but if you have been doing the work, the classes, the auditions, the mailings and things aren’t working right now, maybe it’s time to take a break and do something else you love.
Taking your attention elsewhere can provide the release you need to allow good things to flow your way. Pleasurable activities can relieve depression and stress through distraction. Harrison Ford discovered carpentry. Marcia Cross earned a Master’s Degree in Psychology. You never know where the discovery of another passion could lead. Make a list of things you love to do or always wanted to learn. Circle one to start this week.
3. Start Moving
Whether it’s a walk around the block or an intense kickboxing class (I prefer the latter, when I’m really frustrated), this can be one of the best ways to relieve stress, and instantly feel better. Working out not only affects your physical body, but your mental state as well. Take pride in the body you have been given and make an appointment for your own self-care.
Treat working out as a meditation of appreciation for your body and you will soon see your mood lift, and the added benefit of your body changing for the better! Instead of meeting a friend for coffee-ask if that person would like to go for a walk or run. They could probably use a boost too! Mark your calendar this week with an unbreakable appointment to work out.
4. Get Out In Nature
Sometimes literally getting out of the house can be the perfect aide to getting out of your head, where it’s easy to wallow in your own self-pity. Spring is in the air and looking to the beauty in nature can serve as a great way to get the focus off of yourself. Nature gives us an effortless example of how to be at peace and have patience.
A tree doesn’t try to grow, it just grows. A flower doesn’t check to see when it’s about to blossom, it just trusts that it will when the time is right. Allow nature to be a symbol, reminding you to detach from the outcome. A flower can’t control the weather, the chemicals in the air, or if anyone will think it’s beautiful or not, but with patience and perseverance, in even the most unfortunate of conditions, ultimately a beautiful bud blooms.
Put your life into perspective by marveling at the ocean, the sky, and the stars. The vastness of our planet, and that your time here is finite can help you to start enjoying the beauty in your life today. Take time every day to appreciate nature.
5. Change Your Focus
Where have you been giving your attention? Have you been coping with your frustrations by blaming, complaining, or comparing? These are easy ways to remain powerless and stuck in a cycle of what is not working. Remember that what you focus on expands. Comparing yourself to other actor’s success can instantly put you in a state of panic and lack. Find the joy in your own journey by appreciating how far you have come!
As long as you are unhappy about not being “over there”, or feeling unworthy, dissatisfied or jealous of those who are “over there”, you actually can’t get anywhere near “there” because your energy is not a match. Trust in your own path, and know that you are exactly where you need to be. When you divert your attention from thinking about your problems, your mood actually has a chance to improve!
Focus on your accomplishments and on what you appreciate about your life right now. Make a list and post it where you can see it. Begin a gratitude journal and you will begin to attract more things, people, and opportunities to be thankful for. List 10 things you are grateful for in your life. Make a new list everyday. Do this for 30 days (begin today!) and watch the energy start to shift in your life and career.
The best way to get to where you want to go in your career is to make peace with where you are. Here are some affirmations to help you on your path….
I make peace with where I am right now in my career.
Everything is working out for me right now, for my highest good.
I acknowledge myself for all I have done so far. I am proud of myself.
I release worrying about how things will come to me.
I release and let go of defining my self-worth by whether or not I book a job.
I am so much more than my acting work.
I love myself more each and every day.
As I let go of trying to control how I want things to happen, I make room for unlimited possibilities and unexpected wonderful surprises.
Here’s to enjoying the down time, as things can change rather quickly too!~Wendy Braun