As a performer of the arts: dance, music, theatre, illusions, circus art, poetry, your life revolves around entertaining others. Performing in the presence of an audience. An audience, who often have expectations of you and what you can do.
Obstacles you may encounter include:
- Pressure to perform consistently
- Performing to expectations
- Lifestyle management
- Accessibility to harmful substances
It is no secret that in this digital age, performers from all backgrounds are under the watchful eye of millions of people and are expected to perform to unprecedented heights. This pressure, if not managed effectively can lead to an array of detrimental behaviours and even mental health disorders. Staying focused whilst managing your environment and the information you consume is essential managing your mental health and remaining aligned with your goals.
As a music artist, you have just signed a record deal with a major label. Your life changes, you have a lot of money, people around you asking for favours, invitations to parties and access to pretty much anything you want.
You are a great performer and have great focus, but recently you’ve been occupied with new friends, new environments and new experiences that your work is starting to suffer.
It is becoming difficult for you to manage what is going on around you. You don’t know who to trust, you see people talking about you on social media and you feel as though you no longer have control.
Major changes associated with performance can be difficult to navigate. Whether you transition from the minor leagues to the majors or in this case, because a superstar, staying grounded and true to who you are is imperative.
Expectingly, being thrust into a new world is exciting. However, setting goals for yourself to achieve certain targets can help you to ensure you allocate time and focus to your craft whilst having fun.
Being more mindful is the first step to really being engaged with your environment and situations. Being here, now will help you to make better, more effective decisions and take control of your life and career.
You practice these techniques and you do not lose focus, you do not get caught up in the lifestyle and you do not lose control of your career. Rather, you are able to put in the effort required to sustain this level of performance, you keep a balance between work and enjoyment and keep a solid hand on where your life is headed.
Different types of performers will experience different types of lifestyles and environments. We used the music industry as an example as it is currently an industry where mental health and psychological concerns are rife. Every performer, regardless of industry, will have their own battles and own optimal methods of performing at an elite level. In this case a plan may be:
Knowing who you are and what you stand for will guide your behaviour when navigating your career. Knowing your values, you are more likely to make decisions that reflect them. Additionally, reminding yourself of your values can bring you back to earth when you feel yourself getting carried away or indulging too much in something. Take some time to write down your core values. Ask yourself:
- what are my beliefs?
- what values guide my actions?
- what is important to me?
Now that you have your values, set yourself some goals that you would like to achieve. By setting these goals and holding yourself accountable you are more likely to be working toward them and make decisions that get you closer to attaining them. Ensure that you follow a method of goal setting that has proven to yield greater results. Learn more about goal setting here.
Your goals do not necessarily have to reflect a major achievement or something far into the future but may focus on the process and your day to day habits. For example, one goal may be to spend at least 1 hour a week meticulously going through your finances to manage that aspect of your lifestyle.
Mindfulness is simply, a state of awareness. Being aware of what is happening internally (thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations) and externally (your environment, the company you keep). Being mindful of events that occur around you and how you react to them will go a long way in managing your lifestyle and making decisions. Begin to practice mindfulness by spending 10 minutes a day focusing on your internal workings. Focus on breathing, the way your body feels and try to keep your thoughts on them even whilst the world continues to move around you.
Eventually, you will become proficient enough and have a natural ability to remain attentively engaged with your surroundings. Then, you can practice being observant and really take in how things function around you. For example, someone in your circle may begin to take advantage of you, if you are not present or aware, there is a potential for this person to harm you. You can learn more about mindfulness here.
With everything you do, the decisions you make and the emotions you feel in response to certain events, a level of reflection is required to really understand them. Without reflection how are you able to improve your practices and consequently, your performance? Reflection offers a focused insight into what we’ve been doing recently and why. Ask yourself:
- Am I behaving in line with my values?
- Am I reaching my goals?
- If not, why? If yes, what is working and should I set new goals?
- Am I able to remain present during an interaction with someone?
- Am I aware of my own behaviour and that of those around me?
- Are my psychological techniques working?
- How can I modify my practices to help me perform better and enhance my well-being?
By creating and following a plan that is suitable for you, you put yourself in a better position to manage all of the things that the performing arts industry can throw at you.