Opinion: 5 ways of dealing with stress…especially at Drama School!

19 Jul
Posted in: Features
Dealing with stress as a performer...

We all love Musical Theatre here at #StageFaves, but let's be honest - it's a tough career! The life of a performer is often full of uncertainty, fear, huge highs and dragging lows. Every aspect can be very rewarding, but also draining and, yup...stressful! For those of you looking forward to a time at drama school, George Fairclough from our wonderful friends at the Musical Theatre Appreciation Society offers some tips and tricks on managing stress and getting the most out of life as a performer... 

Stress in inevitable. If we don’t recognise this and learn to deal with stress it can begin to run our lives. It can stop our sense of productivity and serve as a constant distraction. At drama school, stress levels are often heightened due to the pressures we go through every day. Some caused by others and some by ourselves.

I believe as performers in training and in general, performers in our profession we are quite hard on ourselves in terms of expectations. Whilst it's neccessary to set ourselves goals in respect of progress, sometimes it all gets on top of us. Especially when you add auditions, drama, assessments and the battle against pirouettes into the mix. Fortunately there are ways to deal with stress and minimise it. Here are 5 ways to help you deal with stress more effectively.

1. Talk about your feelings with your peers

Establishing a strong relationship with your cohort of classmates/friends is essential in terms of feeling comfortable with one another. They are there with you through everything. They experience your experience. You go through the same emotions. The ups and the downs. They’re the ones ho are going to pick you back up when you’re at your lowest.

It’s much better to get things out in the open and talking to your friends about your worries will be extremely beneficial to you. After all, a problem shared is a problem halved.

2. Meditation and massage

Taking just 15 minutes out of your day to relax and look after your body can do wonders for your mind and your mood. Meditation leads to increased concentration meaning that distractions are less frequent, equating to a longevity of productivity. In class we sometimes massage our peers to relieve any tension or soreness from the muscles. After a long day, this is exactly what you need.

Sometimes in life you’re so busy in your tasks that you forget to take care of yourself and your well being. Meditation is a fun way of regaining that balance in your life and you can do it anywhere, whether it be lying down on your bed or sitting down during your lunch break.

3. Laugh and see the positives

We all have to deal with negativity in life and that can come down to seeing the positives in every situation. The more accepting you are of positivity, the more positive experiences will become apparent to you. It draws you in, just like laughter does. There’s nothing better than to be in a fit of giggles trying to tame your uncontrollable hysteria. Simply by smiling and having a laugh with your friends you automatically feel better. It’s uplifting and its better for your mindset.

Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease. Way to go, right!? Laughter also triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain. When you are laughing, the muscles in your stomach expand and contract, similar to when you intentionally exercise your abs. You’ll have your summer body looking great in no time!

4. Have your ‘healthy escape’

What’s really important is making sure you take the time to get away from it all. You need time to do the things you enjoy, the things that make you happy. Every once in a while you need a little TLC and its ok to indulge in that, whatever it may be. It may be simply going for a coffee with your friends or taking that extra dance class - after all, exercise releases endorphins in the body that trigger a positive feeling.

For me I find comfort in writing my blog, it’s a way for me to vent but it’s also a way for me to do something I actually enjoy doing. Another way I ‘escape’ is through yoga. I highly recommend taking a class – it works wonders for your whole body.

5. Get plenty of sleep

Ensuring you get enough sleep each night is vital in terms of your health. Just waking up feeling well-rested can set the tone for your day within 30 minutes. Your work is at your best when you are fully rested and missing it on those crucial zzz’s can lead to unhappiness within your work and day to day life. Avoid consumption of caffeine, sugar and alcohol before bed as these can effect your sleeping pattern.

Make sure you get into a routine of going to bed at the same time each night and waking up at the same time each morning. Over time this gets easier to do. For now though its time to turn of your technology and get the sleep you very much deserve.

What are your tips and tricks for relieving the stress of a performers lifestyle? Tweet us @StageFaves or chat to the author directly @georgfairclough.