How One Actor Handles Anxiety
Guest Post by Allison Black
Allison Black is a supportive human being for people who are following their joy. Through her humor, sincerity and vulnerability, she’s here to help remind you that we all struggle sometimes — while making it all feel like you aren’t alone out there. And when she’s not acting, you can find her indulging in frequent “Hoofer Style” tap dance classes and the occasional dog agility class.
a feeling of worry, nervousness, tension, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome
Sometimes I have to laugh about the great things I get to do as an actor. This past week’s acting gift was the opportunity to improvise with puppies – a charity event for PAWS. I mean, yeah. That is pretty awesome.
This is a highlight because, this summer, to be frank, has been pretty crappy. I mean, the weather is super, but as far as work, well, it has been really light. Light auditions, no paying bookings, clients needing less work, and so on. Savings account, draining. And for me, that is terrifying. Like I am having those whacky elevator dreams where the elevator goes all wonky and I cannot get off. Yeah. Like that.
And I need to preface, I am seriously not a complainer. On the contrary, I’m super positive. But this summer has been really challenging. Thankfully I have spent the last year and a half, working an acting method that has been helping me be a real human. So between that, Brené Brown, and past talk therapy, I feel like I have some tools.
1. The first thing I have been doing is recognizing how I am feeling. And let me tell you, I am really good at delusions. I. Have. To. Feel. All. My. Feelings. Yes, all the difficult ones, all the challenging ones, all the great ones. All of them. And then (dear God) express them. That means yelling, crying, saying things I need to say – preferably in a place where my dog cannot hear me, as she gets really worried about me.
2. Next thing. This one is really hard for me, as I am a perfectionist… tell someone you trust to be there and listen to you without judgement. It is something about those words getting out into the air and traveling into another’s ear. It creates this thing called vuln… er… vulnera… bil… vulnerability. And when I allow myself to be vulnerable with another person, this thing called relationship is strengthened. And another thing I learned in class, is that most of the time, the thing I am so scared of saying out loud 1) isn’t so horrible once I hear it, and 2) the other person doesn’t run away in horror. And 3) I feel so much freer after having spoken it aloud.
Brené Brown is a shame and vulnerability researcher, and wow, that is a topic no one wants to talk about, but we do it to ourselves all the time. If you don’t know about her, check out her two TED Talks and then her books. She is delightful and self-deprecating and funny… and wicked smart.
3. Lastly, I get busy. I start doing things that bring me joy. Like schedule time to meditate. Learn a language. Tap dance. Walk in my garden. Smell a flower. Play with my dog. Paint. Volunteer. Walk through Lincoln Park Zoo. Laugh. Help someone else. Offer to write a newsletter piece. These are just things that bring me joy.
What are the things that bring you joy? That’s the fun part. And write them down where you can see them every day. It really works for me.
And when I feel anxiety again (and it will happen again) I walk through my process.
What works for you?