Winter Self-Care for Child + Teen Actors

I don’t shake hands with my students. It’s not that I am rude, I just don’t have to time to get sick. I have a responsibility to myself, my family, and my students to show up for work every day and do the best job I can. This time of year, germs are flying—stomach bugs, colds, flu, even winter allergies can get the best of us.

As young actors, you work hard memorizing lines and putting in hours working with coaches or vocal teachers to nail scenes and songs. Kudos to you for preparing and doing your homework! But what if audition day arrives and you wake up sick? All that hard work goes down the drain.

Winter is also the time students are busy preparing to audition for high school and college theater programs. Last year, I helped a student all year on his monologues and songs in preparation for the Unified college theater auditions where many programs come together in one location so that students can audition for several universities in one shot. He was a triple threat, skilled in acting, voice, and dance and was, in my opinion, a big contender for a top musical theater program. Unfortunately, the weekend of his Unified auditions he woke up with laryngitis and couldn’t sing. He was accepted to an excellent theater program in acting, but not offered one for musical theater.

This business is not always forgiving and you don’t get do-overs often. As actors, our bodies and voices are our instruments, so here are some steps you can take to stay healthy so you’ll be at your best when opportunity knocks.

Get plenty of sleep. 
Studies show that children ages 6-12 should get 9-12 hours and most teens need 8-10 hours of sleep per night. Sleep deficiency affects memory, attention, and mood…all things required to perform at one’s best. Get enough rest and you’ll be re-charged to show up fully in a business that is highly competitive. If you’re not all there, someone else will be.

Eat well.
Stick to a sensible diet. I know this is easier said than done but sugar and high carbs can cause mood swings and lethargy. Substitute protein bars for candy bars if you need a quick pick me up. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Drink plenty of water as well, and you will be like a well-oiled machine.

Embrace vitamins and remedies. 
If you are eating a balanced diet, you may not need supplements. However, a gummy vitamin each day can’t hurt (just check with your parents first). During cold season I use Airborne Cold Eeze, and echinacea, an herb that encourages the immune system and reduces many of the symptoms of colds, flu, and some other illnesses.

Be mindful and grateful.
I know parents sound like a broken record, but do what they say. It works. Wash your hands often. Don’t smoke or drink. Stop yelling. Say please and thank you. Gratitude is the answer to happiness. Be a happy actor and people will want to work with you.