Stepping on stage is one of the most petrifying YET MOST peaceful places.
Dear Anxious Actors…this will be a good read, trust me.
My heart is racing as I hold the phone. The dial tone feels like the Jaws Theme song. Every ring, I am one step closer to them picking up the phone. One step closer to facing my fate.
The ringing stops. They pick up.
“Hi, thank you for calling Dominos how can I help you?”
All that just to order a damn pizza?
But aren’t you an actor?
How can you sing in front of hundreds of people but you cant pick up the phone and call someone?
How many of you have been asked that same question in one form or another? I have been an actor for 17 years and I have been anxious for 22. And no, acting isn’t this place where I finally feel an escape from my anxiety, as I step into the shoes of someone else. No. Nope. I love acting.
It brings me joy and purpose, but it also makes me fucking terrified. Stepping on stage is one of the most petrifying, and most peaceful places.
If you’re an actor like me and struggling with anxiety or panic disorder, know you’re not alone. And you’re most definitely not crazy.
By facing my anxiety and asking for help, I have been able to learn some tricks that help me handle my panic in the audition room or before going on stage. So, here are 5 things that I do that have helped me and might help you!
Anxious Actors Need To Have A Ritual
Having a ritual will set your mind up for what is about to happen. Anxiety is your brain trying to protect you from harm. So, when you give your body a familiar activity or ritual, you can start to come back to reality. This helps especially before you go into an audition because we all know those are terrifying…even if you’re confident.
Anxious Actors Need To Tell Your Brain To Shut Up
Like I said before, anxiety is your brain trying to protect you, but it is not always right. If you can step back and look at the situation and you know that you are safe, then tell yourself just that. Tell your brain, “hey brain, thanks for looking out for me, but this is just an audition so you can chill. I got this.” No, your anxiety won’t go away, but I find that this stops a panic attack in the making.
Anxious Actors Need To See a Professional
Seeking help is nothing to be ashamed about. Taking medication is nothing to be ashamed about. I used to think that medication was just a band-aid to the actual problem, but some medications can actually help teach your body how to produce endorphins and serotonin that it was struggling to make on its own.
Even if you don’t want to take medications, having a professional diagnosis can help you understand yourself much better. Once my doctor told me I have panic disorder I finally understood these strange behaviors that I have been living with for years. We’re not crazy, we’re just anxious.
Anxious Actors Need To Have An Anxiety Box
Whether real or imaginary, fill this with all the tools that you can use to help your anxiety. Be prepared. My anxiety box has my Airpods (either playing Greta Van Fleet or Spa Music), Nadi Shodhana Pranayama, essential oils, a crystal clear image in my mind of a moment of peace and calm, and my daily Prozac. What’s in your anxiety box? (Feel free to tag me on IG and share your anxiety box!)
Axnious Actors Need To Be Prepared
Fear of the unknown is anxiety in a nutshell. If you are doing a zoom audition, practice your audition with the zoom camera open as you test the lighting, the sound, the wifi, etc. Know what you are going to do before you do it. If you are going to a new location for an audition, either take a trip there or map it out a few times so you know where to go.
I know the audition room is unpredictable, so try to take control of what you CAN predict. Hey, this is good advice even without the anxiety, but for us anxious pals, the best thing we can do is be prepared.
Now, this should go without saying but I am not a doctor, I haven’t even played one before. So take what you like and leave what you don’t.
Go seek a medical professional if you are struggling with your anxiety, I promise it will be okay! I hope these tips helped you or inspired you to create your own tips for your arsenal.
DM me on Instagram and let me know if you are going to use any of these for your next audition, or if you have any tools that have helped you!