By Rati Pednekar
Injuries, rejection, stereotypes and stigma; performing artists face a number of setbacks throughout their careers. Whether it is maintaining your body or finding new avenues of work, there are plenty of tips and tricks available online. Here, we’re taking a look at how you can manage your mental health during times of struggle.
I say ‘taking a look’ because there is no one right answer. Each person requires a solution unique to them, a piece of one’s own puzzle. Therefore, we have curated five stories about setbacks from different performing artists. We are publishing them as a series and hope you’re able to find some inspiration from them.
Here’s Part IV!
Different people need different coping mechanisms. While Fatema (from Part 3 of this series) relies on keeping busy, dancer and coach Zakwana Bagban argues for the benefits of taking a complete break.
Working as a performing artist can be hard and the exhaustion of pushing your limits is almost an occupational hazard. Zakwana felt it when she began teaching regularly and found a lot of her energy being given out to other people.
“Sometime last year, when I did not take that break because I needed to work, it became difficult to find inspiration. It was like I was doing it for the sake of it.”
That’s when she realised that taking time out for yourself and disconnecting from work is crucial.
“If I’m continuously teaching for 3-4 months and not taking a break, I’m teaching 7 days a week and training 6 days a week, it gets super exhausting. What I like to do is disconnect from my art form, whichever art form it is, so you can find the love for it again. I mean completely disconnecting, not even touching it. If you honestly love what you do, it will pull you back and you will approach it in a fresher way.”
While Zakwana chooses to have intense periods of work followed by an equivalently long period of rest, others can opt for a similar balance in daily life. For those who experience the same fatigue but can’t afford holidays away from work, Zakwana suggests finding a different form of work. Having to think in another way and exercise different mental muscles might bring that much-needed spark of energy.
Most importantly, Zakwana says there’s nothing wrong with taking a step back.
“We think that when we take a break everybody will go ahead of us and we will be left behind. But I don’t think that’s the case. I think that you can take as long a break as you need, the world is still going to be there.”
This was Part IV of our Dealing with Setbacks Series. Read Part V to learn how actor Omkar Ketkar refused to let his circumstances get the better of him.