The Warrior's Temple Part 4 - Battle Brave. The Warrior's mental health

Juggling finances, family, friendships and every other stress factor in life can be overwhelming enough, now throw in the additional pressure of being a self-employed performer in the highly competitive (and somewhat brutal) film and T.V. industry! This can truly be a mental health battlefield.

You can be working weeks without a day off, night shoots, travelling miles, being away from your friends and loved ones, to the other extreme of sitting at home without work for months on end, creating a financial dent in your pocket the size of the Superman creator.  

As dreamy as the film and T.V. business is (and yes it’s pretty epic) the tough reality is that our industry is a relentless monster that can have even the strongest warriors against the ropes questioning their sanity and whether the end game is really worth the constant 'Hulk' like pounding of disappointment and knock-backs.

On our courses, we play an importance on the need to be physically strong to survive the pressures of being a performer on the big screen, but being 'Warrior fit' also applies to the mind. So, how do you cope with the everyday stresses that our industry brings? How do you take steps forward to look after your well-being to help deal with the pressure of this lifestyle choice?

Mind.org provide some excellent information and ideas on how to stay mentally well and develop your ability to cope with the ups and downs of everyday life. We've expanded on their pointers and hopefully provided tips for strengthening your Warrior mind. 

Build positive relationships

We can't get through life alone. Support, empathy, encouragement and the need for a bloody good laugh are essential to getting through the pressures of life as a performer. We've witnessed the incredible camaraderie, friendship groups, and relationships that have been forged during our courses and it's during the dark times that our students turn to each other for support. 

If you're struggling, reach out to those around you. No matter how bad things may seem, it's amazing what the supportive words of someone who understands can do. Even if they just listen.

It's okay to admit things are tough. 

Ask for help if you need it

Of course, this sounds easy to do, but in an industry where physical and mental toughness are staple traits, it can be extremely difficult to talk to someone or seek help. 

Reach out to other fellow BAA students, talk to us if you need that injection of focus and inspiration, reach out to family members. If the pressure is becoming too much and things are really difficult, we would recommend heading over to the charity mind.org for advice and guidance on seeking further help.

There is always someone who wants to help. Don't suffer in silence. 

Look after your physical health

The long term benefit of exercise is numerous and the career of a screen performer comes hand-in-hand with physical fitness and peak performance. Exercise has been proven to improve mental health so if you're not training or you've let your fitness slip, try to get back into exercise. Maybe hook up with a training buddy and motivate each other. 

If you're exercising regularly and your warrior mental health is still feeling a little off, try to make some lifestyle changes. Perhaps try meditating, taking some time to relax and put yourself first. Lifestyle choices such as drugs, alcohol, eating and sleeping habits can have a huge impact on our physical fitness and mental health so is there anything you can improve there?

Take time for yourself

Meditation is a buzz word at the moment but it can be a difficult thing to learn and do successfully. We've all tried it in the office with varying degrees of success but what we keep reminding ourselves is that even if you manage 2 minutes a day, it can still have benefits to your mental health. There are amazing free guided meditations on YouTube or you can try the app Headspace. Some of us use it at the BAA and swear by it. 

There is too much pressure around meditation to try to get in a 'clear, focused' mindset and if you're not doing that, you're not meditating properly. That is simply not true. Meditation at its root is a chance for you to stop. To be still in a peaceful environment. Ultimately some 'you time', even if your head is rushing with thoughts! 

Some BAA staff mediate in the car going to work, some of our staff do it for a few minutes before they go to bed. It doesn't matter. If you've not tried it or you've lapsed, try a few minutes a day. Use some guided meditation to help keep your focus. 

If meditation is not your thing, then try to make some time for just you. Do what you love, take a long walk, get out in nature, read that book that's been sitting on your shelf for ages. Alternatively, if you have too much time on your hands, this can also be negative for your mental health.

Try to set yourself small, personal challenges in the day, whether that's physical, academic, or just making yourself more accessible to friends and family. If you're on your own a lot your mental health can suffer. Try to make contact with someone. Call that friend who's been trying to get hold of you, take up that hobby you've been thinking about for a while. 

It's also okay to surrender to your feelings. As long as you pay attention to how you're feeling. It's not about ignoring your feelings or trying to smother them out with things to do. Recognising how you feel is a huge step in being able to improve your mental health. 

Look after your mental health

Many of us have lived with mental health problems for a while and need to take essential steps to help improve our overall well-being.  The key thing is to be aware of any changes in mood. Keeping a mood diary and/or writing your feelings down can really help. Sometimes, it's better to focus on one feeling than trying to make sense of the jumble that can be your mind. 

Write down your prominent emotion and perhaps just spend a few minutes thinking about that emotion and how it feels. Paying attention to how you feel and recognising changes, is essential for healthy mood management. 

Successful performers in the industry can spend a huge amount of attention and planning on their physical fitness but ignore their mental fitness. Imagine if you put even half the time you put into your training routine, into your mental health mindset? Why not create time for your mind too?

The pressure of success and the constant comparing of yourself to other performers in the industry can take a toll on your mental health. We've seen it time and time again. Remember to be proud of yourself. Be proud of your amazing body and mind and the strength they hold. Be kind to yourself. 

Mind recommend focusing on the small wins, don’t chase big achievements. We couldn't agree more.  

If you feel that you need to seek help, we would recommend you head over to Mind which has oodles of information on where to start. 

We hope that at the BAA Academy we can help, support and offer you a listening post for all the bumps in your career road, whether you are starting to follow your dreams or you have been training hard and working in the Industry a while. 

It's good to talk. 

Created by Jo Quinn on 22 Jan 2019

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