Curve Your Nerves
When I just began acting, I would get ridiculously nervous every time I got onstage, in front of a camera or in class. Through the years, I’ve been told that it’s good to be nervous because you can use that energy, it’s a sign that acting is worth a lot to you, and “everyone gets nervous” and you just have to deal with it. Well, I never was really satisfied with any of those options. One day I decided I didn’t like being nervous while acting, and I simply wasn’t going to be nervous anymore. I told myself I was calm and grounded, yet excited to share my experiences with my fellow human beings. Being calm and grounded in front of a camera and onstage is now second nature. By a simple shift of mindset and thoughts, I no longer feel crippled by fear that what I say isn’t worthy. By simply channeling that energy we call nervousness, I no longer wonder if others judge me, or any number of self-sabotaging thoughts that can run rampant.
Even so, this excess of energy does affect me sometimes; every now and again I am uncentered and ungrounded before a scene or day of work. It happens; I’m human! Haha. But I know now how my instrument reacts to that specific type of energy, and how to go back to my healthy foundation when I waver.
Before classes and work, I find the below exercises and affirmations infinitely helpful. Both, and especially the first one, can be done in those final 30 seconds before you shoot or go onstage. Or you can continue for 10, 15 minutes; however long you need to feel more balanced and grounded.
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. If you prefer to sit instead, that works easily as well. I like to close my eyes here. If standing, bounce your knees slightly a few times. Allow your shoulders and body to flow and relax with each bounce. Feel your hips and belly relax. Put a hand on your belly. Feel the breath go in and out slowly. Do this a few times. Feel your feet growing imaginary roots beneath you into the ground. You are stable. You are grounded. Keep your hand on your belly and feel the breath go in and out. Put a hand on your chest, and make sure your breath is going past your chest, and moving through to your belly. Feel those roots under your feet grow deeper. Keep your roots growing and your belly breath cycling until you feel more centered and stable.
(Allow yourself to go slow when you say this out loud, whispering, or in your head. Listen to yourself. Allow each word to sink in. Also, this can really be any version of your own words, any combination, so long as it is positive, simple, and clear.)
I am centered. I am grounded. I am calm. I am. I am. What I say is worthy. What I think is worthy. What I feel is worthy. I am worthy. I am calm. I am grounded. I am centered.
I also have more exercises and affirmations in my repertoire; if you are interested in hearing more of them, just ask and I’ll share :)