In the eyes of the world there are two types of actors. The emotional, deep, brooding type. And the carefree, happy as a kid on christmas morning, forever optimistic, hippie, disconnected-from-reality type.
But the truth is, most artists (like most PEOPLE) fall somewhere in between.
To me, based on my experience, being an artist often means being open emotionally. It means, being someone who is able to see all sides of an argument. It means being empathetic. And as a result it often means battling to stay sane! Allowing yourself to be constantly open to and bombarded by emotions can be quite exhausting. Just imagine if you were able to sense and feel what other people were feeling at any given moment! Now imagine if you weren’t always able to turn that off whenever you wanted to.
As an actor you have to be able to connect with the human condition, in order to understand the motives of your character. Which is why people who are emotional, deep, and brooding, or carefree, optimistic, and seemingly “disconnected” make for the best actors.
Now take this same person I just described, the person who is open emotionally and empathetic, and put that person into daily situations where he or she must perform, interview, audition, and submit (literally and figuratively) to others with the CONSTANT possibility of rejection. That sounds horrible. An emotionally sensitive person, being told “no”, “you’re not right”, “you’re not good enough”, “you don’t have the look”, “you’re not believable”, “you’re not polished”, “you’re not good”, on a daily basis, almost sounds like a set-up for a psychotic break.
*Cue Black Swan*
The saving grace for many actors is having something else to keep them grounded and focused. Which is why you’ll often see actors and “artsy” types at the forefront of the latest yoga, spiritual, and health movements. Mental, emotional and spiritual health are very important to the longevity of those who are in the entertainment industry. I myself began my journey towards mental health awareness when I was 17. Before I headed to college I picked up a book, by chance, at a secondhand store. That book was aptly titled “Staying Sane in the Arts”. I’d be lying if I said I finished the book and was super inspired and gained instant clarity and a sense of direction in my life. BUT, I do find it interesting that at the age of 17, before I went miles away from my family, I knew that my mental health would be under attack in my chosen profession.
And so began my journey. Over the next few years, I would find myself actively seeking clarity. I would read many books, explore different religions, and journal until my hands cramped. The importance of being able to find peace in a chaotic and often negative industry never missed me.
In recent years, awareness has increased as high profile actors have taken their own lives, including Robin Williams (my personal childhood hero and favorite actor). A subject that was once taboo and shrouded in secrecy is finally coming more into the light.
But mental health is not just an issue for actors or those in the entertainment industry. We are capable of falling victim to mental, emotional, and spiritual distress. Today’s society can easily leave us over-stimulated and overwhelmed. How many of us have seen mothers, sisters, friends, colleagues or even ourselves struggle to stay “in control” and remain positive? It is certainly not uncommon to suffer from stress, depression, or “burn-out”.
So how can we combat negativity and improve our mental health?
I've found the following 4 actions personally help me destress, declutter, and maintain control!:
Affirmations!: This is my secret weapon to get through a particularly rough patch. I find that simply setting an intention for what I would like to happen (despite what might actually seem to be happening), helps me to refocus. Find a quote that inspires you, come up with a goal for the day, and then write it down. Post it on your mirror, your door, your fridge, your desk, wherever you are likely to see it, and focus only on that positive thought. Be sure to start each day and end each night by saying an affirmation.
A hobby or physical activity: Picking up a hobby or doing something active such as taking a hike, or joining your local aerial fitness studio, can be a great way to let off steam, quiet your mind, refocus and release those happy vibes!
Personal Staycation: Whether at home, or in a local hotel for the night, a staycation is a great way to pamper yourself and feel awesome! So crack out the bubble bath, pour yourself a glass of wine, get a good book (or cue up the netflix), and take a night (or at least 3 hours) to relax alone.
BONUS: MEDITATE!: It may sound cliche and you might say, “But I’m so bad at meditation!” (That’s my usual excuse) But it is easier than you think. You don’t need to sit in silence for 10 hours! You can simply take a 5-10 minutes each day to quiet your mind and do some breathing exercises. You’d be amazed how often we forget to breathe! Ever wonder why your shoulders feel so tight when you’re stressed? Chances are you’ve been holding your breath! So slow down, set aside a few minutes (maybe before you get out of the car when you pull up to your home at the end of the day) and focus on your breathing. BOOM! Meditation DONE!
Chanel Bosh is a Los Angeles based actress and entrepreneur.
Her company "The Connect" helps to introduce other local artists and entrepreneurs who embody the collaborative spirit. Her favorite food is whipped cream and her favorite subject throughout school was English. :) Follow her on Instagram @ChanelBosh and @TheConnectExperience