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Seasonal Depression and Acting: Avoid the Winter Slump


Whether or not you struggle with seasonal depression, it’s hard to avoid the winter slump as an actor. The days are shorter and darker, the auditions slow down, and the creeping feeling of “what if I never work again?” suddenly feels terrifyingly realistic. 

While a lot of elements may be out of your control, how you react to the winter slump is up to you. Here are some things to keep in mind when the auditions dry up. 

 

1. Keep perspective.

Don’t panic. When auditions slow down it’s easy to feel like you’re doing something wrong. Take a step back. Remember there is often a bit of a slump around the holidays. It will pick back up. 

 

2. Stay creative.

Just because you’re not booking doesn’t mean you stop being an actor. Finding creative outlets on your own is hugely important for morale, mental health, and working on your craft. Maybe this is a time to stretch yourself and try something you haven’t had time for or have been afraid to try before. Engaging in new ways can keep you motivated and artistically enriched. 

 

3. Practice self-care.

This is a good time to check in with yourself. Are you burning out? Taking time to recharge when things slow down will help your stamina in the long run. Remember it’s ok to put effort, time, and enjoyment into things that are not acting-related. You deserve to be a whole person. 

Remember also that seasonal depression is a real thing. If your depression goes beyond the usual winter blues, seeking professional help might be a good option. If you’re scared to try on an actors budget, research local artist relief efforts and groups, there may be some resources in your area.

 

4. Make a new year plan.

When work slows down, it can be a great opportunity to regroup and assess your career trajectory. Where are you now and where would you like to be? What actions can you take to reroute if needed? It’s easy to get caught in the grind of next audition, next gig, and never lift your head to look around. A break in the influx of auditions can actually be a great time to sit down and create an intentional plan to move forward.

 

5. Look ahead.

If the winter slump hits hard every year, (or if you notice similar patterns throughout the year), it might help to plan ahead for it. Have some fun projects in the wings, or figure out what your most effective self care practices are. 

 

Slumps and dry spells can feel like personal indictments, but they’re a natural part of an actor’s career. Learning to embrace them and move through them with patience and grace for yourself instead of fighting them will help prevent burnout and discouragement.