Updated: Feb 10, 2019
I recently made the big move. After spending six years in Chicago I road tripped back home-Los Angeles, CA. In Chicago I spent three years in an intense MFA conservatory program and the other three years doing the grind. Actors, we all know what the grind is. Day job after day job, auditions, rehearsals, preparation for auditions, acting classes, seeing shows while still trying to maintain personal and build professional relationships, etc. The grind can be exhausting! Physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally, the hustle can wear you down. I did not realize how worn down I was from the grind until I returned home. Even then it took time for me to fully admit and submit to my body, mind and spirit saying, "girl, take a break."
I remember sitting in the passenger seat of my car, accompanied by one of my best friends who drove us from end of the Mother Road on the Santa Monica Pier to our next destination. The Pier breeze gave me a sense of calm while I sat with the uncertainty of what this next chapter of my life would be. I knew nothing. Only, that I had no agent. I had no job lined up. I barely had enough money to pay my cell phone bill and I was just a couple of weeks shy of my 30th birthday. My new reality really set in a few nights later when I was lying on my mom's carpet living room floor listing all of the "things I needed to do" in order to jump back into the grind in LA: get a job, submit to agents, renew my actors access account, look into getting new headshots, put a reel together, set up professional meetings, connect with my So Cal friends etc. I set out to do just about everything I mentioned, but then quickly became overwhelmed with my new circumstances. It wasn't until a couple of weeks later, with the help of some great conversations with great friends and my own realization that what I was doing wasn't doing anything to move me forward, that I decided to listen to myself and pause. I paused and tuned into the voice that had been telling me for sometime to "breath, slow down and take care of YOU first Abie." Which brings me to my note: Self-Care.
If there is one thing I have learned in my journey as an actor it's that no one will tell you when it is time to slow down and take a rest when your body, mind and/or spirit is crying out for one. YOU need to be the judge of that. You need to be able to listen to that voice that is telling you to take time for yourself. My body, mind and spirit had been telling me to slow down and give it some TLC months ago, but I got swept up in my busy life as an actor, as we all do. My body was always tired from not getting enough sleep, my skin was suffering from eating unhealthy, and my mind was constantly occupied with what to do next. I may have looked put together, but internally I was a mess. I felt like a mess.
The truth is that self-care is crucial to being an actor (hell any artist). Actors, we are athlete's in our own right. Our bodies (minds and spirits) are our instruments and we need our instruments in order to pursue our passion. So you must take care of your instrument. Get sleep. Drink plenty of water. Nourish your body with healthy food. Exercise your body. Re-inspire your creative mind and spirit by visiting a museum, seeing a show or movie, travel or listen to music. What I'm saying is how well or not so well you take care of you will reflect the work you do in the audition room, the rehearsal space, on stage or even on set. It's all connected.
Some of you may be thinking, "I'm so busy, how can I add self care into my daily routine?" Start small. Start with a small self-care habit you can do with the time you do have and watch that small habit turn into a consistent habit that makes a big change in how you feel. For the first month and a half I was home I didn't have a job. So, I didn't have to wake up in the morning to be somewhere. It would have been so easy for me to sleep in, stay in bed longer than I needed and not get up until I wanted to. However, I made it a point to get up before 9 am, take a shower, get dressed, make my morning tea and a healthy breakfast before starting my morning and focusing on career things. Two months later, and yes with a job, I'm still doing my morning self-care routine without even thinking about it. It has become apart of my daily am self-care before starting my day AND it makes me feel good. It gives me the boost I need to show up for myself and then my career.
How you show up for yourself is a reflection to how you show up for your career. And self-care looks different for everyone. The idea is to invest in things that make you feel good. For me, my self-care is mainly in the morning. For you it could be any time of the day or even on the weekends or throughout the week.
Another thing to note is that once you put consistent habits in place and say slip off because of a busy week or month, it will be easy to bounce back into your healthy habits. I have noticed that with myself.
That's my note for the week. I'd love to hear some of your self-care habits and positive comments below. Happy New Year!