Self-Care Tips for Managing the Busy Life On-Set for Managing Mental Health

Posted on: May 14, 2024

Photo Credit: True Touch Lifestyle // Shutterstock

By Benjamin Hickson

With Mental Health Awareness Month in May, the spotlight on our well-being becomes more crucial than ever. I know firsthand that working on film and television sets can be thrilling and extremely rewarding, but I also know that the time and effort I often put into my work puts a lot of strain on my body—both physically and mentally.  

Working on-set often involves demanding schedules and high-pressure environments that can impact how we take care of ourselves. The long hours often do not leave enough time for self-care. While it’s tempting to succumb to the fast-paced demands of the industry, it’s essential to prioritize self-care to maintain your body’s equilibrium and prevent burnout.

Ensure You Get Enough Rest

Despite the long hours and irregular schedules, make sleep a non-negotiable priority. For your body to fully heal, it requires at least 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night to recharge. That is easier said than done, but if you are able to, it will no doubt benefit your mental and physical well-being. Creating a relaxing nighttime routine has done wonders for helping me wind down before bed. Incorporating calming activities like reading, listening to music or practicing gentle yoga can also help release the stress of the day, prepping your mind and body for a good night’s rest.

Treat yourself to skincare or relaxation products that help you unwind before bed, like aromatherapy oils, bath salts or soothing lotions. Taking care of your body will ease the mind and help you get the best night sleep possible, even if it is less than the desired 8 hours.

Take Care of Your Body

It has been scientifically proven that taking care of your body can help improve one’s mental health as well. Eating well can be a challenge on-set, but try to avoid relying solely on quick, unhealthy snacks. Pack nutritious meals and snacks like fruits, nuts and protein bars to keep your energy levels stable throughout the day. 

Dehydration can exacerbate stress and fatigue, so I always try to keep a reusable water bottle with me so that no matter where I am on-set, I have the ability to obtain water consistently throughout the day to stay hydrated. It is no doubt extremely hard to exercise regularly when you spend all day on-set, but by finding ways to incorporate exercise into your routine, such as a quick workout before or after work, or a walk during lunch breaks can lead to a much clearer mind. 

Take Mental Health Breaks

During intense shoots, it is beneficial to take short breaks whenever possible. Utilize time between takes, or when switching locations to stretch, breathe deeply and clear your mind. I know many producers that have incorporated mindfulness techniques like meditation or deep breathing to manage stress and stay focused amidst the chaos. They often have a very stressful job, and by doing simple breathing techniques they are able to remain personable and calm throughout the shoot.

Whenever I have a moment, I like to step outside to get some fresh air and sunlight. Connecting with nature can be incredibly rejuvenating to the body and mind. Separate yourself from the hustle of on-set life and reflect on the positive aspects of your job and life outside of work. If you are feeling rundown or tired, cultivating gratitude can shift your perspective and boost your mood.

Establish Healthy Boundaries

It can be easy to get swept up in the excitement of filming and to dedicate every second of your time to thinking about, or working on the project. Over time and through lots of hardship, I have learned that it is essential to set boundaries around your work hours and stick to them as much as possible. If you don’t, people will take advantage of that. Learn to say no when you need time for yourself, and use those boundaries to continue to foster your personal connections with friends and family outside of work.

Social support is vital for emotional well-being and can lead to immense emotional growth. Some may even find it helpful to unplug regularly and limit screen time. This can allow for a much needed break from emails, social media and work-related communications, which will help ease the mind and promote relaxation. One aspect of setting boundaries that is difficult for a lot of people is delegation. In this industry it can be easy to take all the responsibility for your role on-set, but that mindset can be very detrimental. If you begin to feel burnout, don’t hesitate to delegate tasks and remember that it’s okay to ask for help.

Seek Professional Help When Needed

Never be ashamed if you’re feeling overwhelmed or struggling with your mental health. This industry is hard and it takes a lot out of you, but please do not hesitate to seek support from a therapist or counselor if you feel yourself struggling. 

It is important to remember that taking care of yourself is not a luxury, but a necessity. In the high-pressure environment of film sets, it can be easy to forget what is really important. By incorporating these self-care tips into your routine, you’ll not only enhance your well-being, but also perform better at your job and enjoy the experience more fully.

When you prioritize yourself, you will be surprised how many things get better. Careers, friendships, relationships, mental and physical health all benefit when you work to take care of yourself.

Benjamin Hickson is an aspiring producer and production coordinator who has 4+ years experience working on various Film and TV projects. He has a background in Public Relations and served for six years in the military. He also has passion for travel and aims to increase LGBTQ+ representation in the entertainment industry.

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