BWW Blog: Third Week Blues: Giving Yourself Balance
It's the third week of the semester, and I can already feel myself losing steam. My eyes droop, my limbs feel heavy, and all I find myself doing is sluggishly wandering from classroom to classroom like some kind of backpack-wearing zombie. A combination between exhaustion and depression, it's not uncommon to start feeling this way once the back-to-school excitement has worn off. Seeing your friends again is exciting- being flooded by hundreds of upcoming deadlines isn't. I'd spent the Fall semester studying abroad in England, and, although being back has been amazing and I missed all of my friends, I've been starting to feel some of the weariness of the daily routine creeping back into my life. It's not that I don't like my school, it's that everything abroad was so fresh and new, and now it's back to the same old. What's really saved me though, is having some sort of consistency between my England life and my New Orleans life. This consistency came to me in the form of a hobby. I know, it sounds ridiculous, but it's not as dumb as it sounds.
One thing I've noticed after three years of being a theatre major, is that most of us fall into the trap of having no semblance of a life outside of the theatre; and maybe that's a good thing, but in my experience it's not. There's something grueling of doing the same thing over and over again with no respite from it even if you try, and maybe this comes from the way we were in high school. In high school, theatre for most of us was an after school activity, so the theatre was a relief from school work. In college, theatre is your school work, and that's why I found it essential for me to find something else I could funnel my stress into and take a break from my work. For me, these activities are dancing and exploring the city I'm living in, and, let me tell you, it's done wonders for both my physical and mental health. I started dancing as a de-stressor when I was in England because my host school's dance societies offered free tasters during the week, and I ended up sticking to it. It opened up a chance for me to make new friends and gave me the rush of endorphins I desperately needed after being stuck in class all day for two hours at a time. Also, it gave me a new skill I could add to my resume, so it ended up being both relaxing and good for my career.
It's essential for us as performers to take care of ourselves both physically and mentally. After all, our bodies are our instruments and if you're exhausted and drained all the time, then you can't perform to the best of your abilities. We need to find a balance between (a) not dying and (b) being productive. It's so tempting to spend 15 hours a day in bed, only leaving the comfort of your sheets for sustenance and rehearsals, but it's just not a feasible way to live. If you have the time, you could always join a club or society- Loyola University New Orleans boasts over 100 clubs and societies to choose from. On the other hand, if you're on a tighter schedule, anything from doing origami, to journaling, to watering your plant babies are wonderful hobbies to take out all your stress.
There's not a single theatre major I know that isn't under a lot of stress at all times, and we tend to forget that taking a step back and giving some time to yourself is essential for us to be happy and healthy. We tend to believe that we need to eat, sleep, and breathe theatre, but it's important that we give ourselves a moment to breathe. There are so many other factors in our lives that tend to be ignored or pushed aside by us on a day to day basis, and there's nothing wrong in giving them love from time to time.