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Achieving Work-Life Balance in the Entertainment Industry

Updated: Jan 20, 2023

As a Los Angeles based Teletherapist I have seen in influx in clients from the Entertainment Business over the past years. I've been working with producers, musicians, actors, sound mixers, and others from this industry and have found that a lot of clients who choose this line of work are facing similar challenges. These challenges include:

  • Long work hours

  • Reduced family time

  • Financial pressures

  • Insomnia

  • Health issues including digestive issues, hearing issues, and frequent colds

  • Stress and anxiety

  • Inconsistent Work

I have also found that there aren't a lot of resources about achieving work-life balance available for people in the Entertainment business.

How is the Entertainment Business different from other Businesses?

There are a few things that make the entertainment business different from other more traditional career paths. These differences include:

  • Projects versus 9-5 jobs: Most people in the Entertainment business have projects instead of 9-5 jobs. This means that they have months when they are very busy working on specific projects and months where they don't have work. This inconsistency in work hours means that people in this career need to be able to foreshadow financial needs more than people relying on regular paychecks, they have weeks where they are working 12-15 hours days followed by weeks without any work, and they have times where they have little to no family time versus times where they have a lot of family time.

  • Whom you know versus talent: Whom you know in the Entertainment Business is as important as your talents. I hear this more and more as I work with people from this industry. You can be the most talented person in your industry but if you don't have the right connections then you will not be able to work on those passion projects or you might not be able to work at all. Since most work is based on projects it creates a power imbalance where you're not able to set appropriate boundaries with superiors out of fear of not being hired for another project once the current one ends.

These are just a few ways in which the Entertainment Business is different from other careers. This also means that the traditional ideas about work-life balance will not work for people in the Entertainment Business. You won't be able to leave at a specific time each night while on a project, you won't be able to consistently see your family either. So, a new concept of work-life balance needs to be created in order to achieve a lifestyle where you feel fulfilled in what you do but also feel fulfilled in life.

How to Achieve Work-Life Balance in the Entertainment Business:

  1. Redefine Work-Life Balance: Since work is based on projects you will have very busy months and very slow months. Because of this, work-life balance needs to be viewed as a global thing to achieve over the span of a year rather than a daily requirement. Give yourself permission to lose yourself in the work while on a project. Understand that you will have time to rest, recover, and rejuvenate between projects and during slow months. Talk about this different view of work-life balance with loved ones so that everyone in your household understands the ebb and flow of your industry and how it will impact your participation in the daily needs of the family.

  2. Manage your Expectations: Everyone I have worked with in the Entertainment Business is able to see which projects are projects passion projects, which ones will be award winning, and which ones are for entertainment only. This differentiation is usually rather obvious before the project even begins. The problem is that once you are in the project, working those long days, it is easy to forget what kind of project you are on and start to give your all every day. It is important t o do good consistent work and to be present on each project, but you don’t want to burn yourself out on a project that isn’t a passion project or an award-winning project. If you start to feel overwhelmed or resentful on a project then take a step back and remind yourself of what kind of project you are working on and how much of yourself you should be giving it.

  3. Make Conscious Decisions About how you Spend Down Time: When you work 12-15 hour days it can be so exhausting that all you want to do on your down time is pop by a drivethrough to inhale some food on the way back to your bedroom, sleep, and go back to work. Making conscious decisions about your down time that include healthy eating, and a calm down routine at night will help nourish your body, reduce feelings of stress, and increase the chances of good sleep. It can feel tedious and frustrating at times but taking that extra 20 minutes to support your mind and body in calming down in the evenings can make a huge difference in your quality of life. The same is true for the weeks that you are in between projects. Try to avoid spending days vegging out on the couch or having inconsistent sleep-wake cycles since those will only make you feel worse. Instead, use this down time to schedule meaningful quality time with friends and family, catch up on healthy eating/working out, and focusing on ways to feel grounded and rejuvenated.

  4. Participate in Teletherapy: Being in the Entertainment Business can increase feelings of anxiety. Between performance anxiety while on a project, to doubting your abilities or skill level, to perfectionism, to worrying about being hired on the next project, to financial pressures, the anxiety can build and build. Having a licensed Teletherapist, someone whom you can speak to via telephone calls or live video calls instead of traditional office-based visits, can make all the difference. The best part is, the Teletherapist can support you from project to project since you can make the calls from where you are, and the times that work best for you.

I hope that this brief introduction to achieving work-life balance in the Entertainment Business has been helpful for you. In the upcoming weeks, I will focus on blogs on how to combat self-doubt and perfectionism as a way to continue providing support to people in the Entertainment Business. If you would like a more customized action plan on how you can personally achieve Work-Life balance then please feel free to reach out. We are continuing to accept clients in California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, and New York.

Written by Linda Meier Abdelsayed, LMFT

Originally published on 02/22/2019

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