How to deal with mental health whilst auditioning

Hi Auditionhackers! So this is a biggie for most actors as nearly everyone will experience a mental health or anxiety issue during their career, especially through an audition process. I’m going to break it down in this article in the hope that you guys will feel a lot more comfortable and less ANXIOUS once you’ve hit the bottom of the page!

I. Accept that it’s normal to feel this way

Mental Health is a very common thing amongst most people not just actors, but I’ve been told that in some cases you can compare the anxiety/adrenaline rush of walking into an audition room to that split second before you are about to be involved in a car crash! Crazy right?! Actors may feel more anxious than regular working people ; regular working people may only need to be put in a judgemental situation on a few occasions during their career (interviews, presentations etc.), when actors could have this several times a week if you have a good agent who gets you the auditions, or if you are trying to get into drama school! Of course there are exceptions on either side and certain people have mental health struggles regardless of the job they do. You just have to know that you are one of many who have to struggle through life on occasion, and until you accept this, you will never be able to control it.

II. Realise that audition panels and casting directors know you’re nervous

When auditioning for Drama Schools you will most likely have less experience of being in this situation, meaning you are more likely to be nervous about it. Everyone is nervous, anxiety is a whole other ball game. Audition panels have seen hundreds of potential students walk through their doors with all different types of skill sets. This is something you must carry with you when meeting casting directors throughout your career, as they are just the same and all are pretty friendly. You must remember that they really do want you to be the best version of you possible or there is no point anyone being in that room!

III. Use one of these methods to help deal with anxiety

  • Hypnotherapy – This is a personal favourite of mine. I was speculative at first but after a few sessions it really did the trick. You start by working out what is is you want to correct in your sub conscious. You then get talked into a heightened state of relaxation where you can then tell yourself for example “I’m a great singer and will not have any problems in an audition situation”. This really grips down deep and convinces you that this is the real truth. The session lasts around an hour and you could always record one to use before any auditions you have. Speaking from personal experience, this really helped solving my issues. Some examples are :
  • Physical Action & Memory engagement – This coincides with the hypnotherapy treatment. If you can think of a great memory of a time when you nailed the skill you are having anxiety about. For example, you could relate it to a show you performed as a child where you had no cares or worries and just enjoyed it. Once you have located this memory you then attach it to a physical action like clenching you right fist or tapping your thigh. This can then be used a trigger to sit you in the mind set of where you were in that particular memory.
  • Meditation – There are some amazing apps out there that just help you deal with mental health and anxiety issues. This method is less like the first two as its more of a way to calm down and ignore the issues, not obliterate them! Some examples of great apps for this are :
  • Therapy – It could be a case of you wanting to just talk to someone as they could have the answer to your problem. Talking is the most important thing for mental health, whether it be with a good friend or with a professional who fully understands the mind, it all counts as therapy. The NHS website is a good place to start on researching the types of therapy and therapists in your area. But like I said, if you have the loyal friend to talk to, do it and don’t be embarrassed!
  • Don’t arrive too early – Always arrive to auditions in enough time to prepare yourself to enter the room, but don’t get there hours before. If you get there too early you start to procrastinate as you see other auditionees walk in before you and then that little devil on your shoulder starts talking to you. Sometimes the panel are running nice and early and may want to drag you through that door before you have even taken your coat off! If you need those few minutes to compose yourself by using the methods I’ve listed above, don’t be afraid to say you need a minute.
  • Don’t over analyse – When you have left the room, leave it all behind you. If you start to think about what happened in there your mind could start to warp the truth and you end up thinking it was the worst audition you have ever done. It wasn’t and what’s done is done. Never beat yourself up about it.

You have to exercise and keep your mind healthy just like you would with your body in the gym. These processes will work differently for every person but I promise you they do work once you have found your own rhythm. Everyone has mental health and anxiety issues at some point on some level, but everyone can also improve their situation as we all want to be the most relaxed person we can be before entering that audition room.

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