- Leslie Lynn Nifoussi
Get some (brain) rest
Sometimes, I'm tired. I bet you get tired, too.
Your trying to memorize that script for a casting tomorrow and it keeps coming out a jumbled mess. There's some sort of road block in your brain. What's going on? You're looking at the lines over and over again and when you go to deliver...nothing. That's cognitive exhaustion.
It's deep-into-your-core tired. Not sleepy tired, though. It's a different feeling. It's the thought that making one more decision in your day will actually break you.
We're just being pulled in too many different directions. We're forced to make tons of macro and micro decisions everyday. If you're a parent, then the amount of those decisions quadruples (so that would be 4 tons) and each one of them comes with the certainty that you are definitely screwing up your kid's lives, which leads to more overthinking and exhaustion.
We're constantly interrupted by what, in my opinion, is the biggest culprit...our phones. When your brain is focusing on a task and that text alert goes off, your focus is diverted and you're immediately wondering 'who is saying what' that needs a response. Now you're thinking about that message instead of what you were doing. Even worse, you've probably already picked it up, read it and are composing some sort of (of course, witty and highly intelligent) response.
I even see signs of this kind of exhaustion in my kids, especially my middle-schooler. He's in advanced classes which challenge him and I can see by the end of the week he struggles to focus. It's not a sleepiness he's battling, it's a fight to keep his head in the game. He's grasping at the last wisps of motivation from the week's beginning. Unfortunately, he tries to escape with more screen time and that is exactly what he shouldn't be doing.
In fact, screens are a big part of what got us here in the first place and, like so many other things in our lives, unplugging is a big part of the solution.
Unfortunately, being on-camera talent does not lend itself to being physically or mentally tired. When we're not on set, which requires us to look great and be 'on', we're at castings to get our next job, which requires the same. Outside of that, of course, we're traveling to set or to castings. Like most careers, ours requires the best of us at all times. Unlike many professions, if we're not at our best, we're not working at all!
What to do, what to do...
1. Unplug. I know you don't want to hear this but it's really important to put the screen down. Not just at night, but during the day, as well. A good time to do this is during meals, if you're lucky and get a chance to eat sitting down like a normal person. If you're on set, take the time to talk to your fellow talent. Ask them questions. Pick their brains. You'll learn so much and you'll be away from that darned phone for a little while.
2. Exercise. Get it how ever you can. I was having so much trouble with my workout routines for a whole year. I was bored, unmotivated and really depended heavily on counting calories to stay in shape. I've since discovered the Aadaptiv app - I actually rediscovered it. The first time I tried it, I didn't like it. I tried it again about a month ago, and I love it. The trainers are amazing; super motivating and supportive. What changed? Who knows. I guess I wasn't open to it the first time around and now I am. I definitely recommend it, if you're looking for challenging, guided workouts.
3. Choose to make fewer decisions. How on Earth would one accomplish this? I think the idea is that we need to be better at prioritizing our decisions. In other words, not every decision has to be made at the second the choice presents itself to you. Take my emails, for example. They tend to come in waves...silent for a while and then 3 or 4 bongs in a row. Did you know that you can snooze emails? Just like rolling over and hitting that ol' snooze button on the alarm, you can just deal with your email at a later time. I love this feature because if I know that I will have a light day later in the week, I snooze all of the non-urgent emails until that day. I really do this, especially with banking emails, blogs I want to read, industry news and the kid's school stuff. I don't have to read the email immediately and come up with response and it's not clogging up my inbox, tempting me to open it and decide on a response every time I am checking my mail.
4. Meditate or just stare at the wall for 5 minutes. Whichever you choose. You know the benefits of a good mediation. You know that it's super hard to dedicate the time to it everyday. So, for me, I just stop sometimes. I tell the kids they're on their own for 5 minutes. I just sit and sip my coffee and listen. And smile. Ahhhh!
Mix up the above and you're whipping up a batch of better brain function which means better castings and performances and safer travels, all of which are HUGE in our industry. We don't get sick days or rest days. When we're booked, we're booked, whether it's down the road or two states away. We need to be on. We need to look great and we need to perform which includes reading TelePrompters and remembering scripts.
I'm literally hitting publish and I am going to stare at the wall in front of me for five minutes. Oh yes, I hear the kids. They're upstairs. They're coming for me, I'm sure. And they'll find me. Staring.