Positive mental health and wellbeing in the arts

This evening I’ve had the pleasure of being in a wellbeing workshop with Dr Jane Miskovic-Wheatley and my fellow actors in Once the musical. Due to present covid-19 restrictions in NSW it was conducted over Zoom, but it brought much needed social connection and inner peace on the day which would have been the end of an initial two week lockdown, now extended.

Image credit – Daniel Reche

As the current affairs prevent us from being in the theatre doing the work we love, we’re faced with various external stressors beyond what’s typical of a music theatre tour pre-pandemic. I’m grateful for Dr Jane’s approachable and sincere leading of this workshop in which she introduced some valuable resources for wellness in the performing arts.

Having worked in theatre and events for twenty years, Dr Jane provides clinical and consulting psychological services for these industries. She contributed to resources for The Arts Wellbeing Collective, a preventative health initiative led by the Arts Centre Melbourne.

One of the key takeaways for me during this call was to prioritise self care. It’s understandable to feel emotional in the present circumstances while many people acknowledge the challenges of reviving the live performance industry during a pandemic. This is one of the reasons the AWC initiative began in 2020 and is gaining momentum.

Dr Jane shared the concept of ‘well-doing’, in other words actively taking part in preventative measures to improve one’s wellbeing. This really resonated with me. Furthermore, every small effort towards self care counts. If you can’t do your usual lengthy workout, 10 minutes of yoga, walking, or stretching will be beneficial, as will any small steps towards improving your mental health and maintaining motivation.

I’m writing this for myself as well as others, seek help. As someone who tries to fix things on their own, I tend to shoulder more burdens than necessary and I feel that weight more than ever now. Sharing pieces of my mind with a health professional was very helpful for me and it may be for you.

If you’re a creative seeking help, but unsure where to look, start here: https://artswellbeingcollective.com.au/resources/

If you need to chat with a support helpline who understands the performing arts, chat here: https://artswellbeingcollective.com.au/get-help/support-act-helplines/

More importantly, have conversations around mental health with likeminded supportive people. Creative people can have a lot of noise in their head which needs filtering. When your usual creative outlets aren’t available to you, that internal monologue can become overwhelming. Reach out. Be well. Take care.

Thank you to the staff at Darlinghurst Theatre Company for organising this wellness workshop with Dr Jane Miskovic-Wheatley and for looking after their artists’ wellbeing.

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