Where did I put my keys? Has anyone seen my script? Crap, what’s that girls name? She was in my improv class last year. I wish I had someone with me to introduce to ask her name.
Having a slight lapse in memory is one thing, but forgetting lines that your job relies on is another. The quicker a performer can commit their scene to memory, the better. Keeping our brains quick and sharp is a beneficial tool for acting, and life in general.
There are foods that feed our brains, and others that have the killer combo of taking a parting gift of brain cells and leaving the unwanted gift of fat cells. So what the heck are these foods? Let’s start with the ones that don’t belong on set: refined sugars, white bleached flours, fried foods, artificial sugars, artificial colors, hydrogenated oils, saturated fats, and heavily processed meats. Research shows that saturated fat impairs concentration and increases the risk of dementia. Additionally, a high stress environment, negative emotions, and lack of sleep eats away at our memory too. Take a deep breath with me right now and hit the hay early tonight. And not with your scene partner!
Go to bed: We need between 7.5 and 9 hours of sleep. This is the time we consolidate memories, build creativity, critical thinking skills, and the ability to problem solve. All of this can’t be remedied with a cup of joe. Encouraging “sleep hygiene” with clients is critical to feeling vibrant and sharp. This includes turning off all screens at least 30 minutes before bed (yep, including social media), doing a meditation, slathering on your anti-aging creams early so they have time to absorb onto your skin and not the pillow, doing a brain dump by creating a to-do list for the next day, and having a cup of relaxing tea. Still can’t sleep? Close your eyes and run through your day recounting all the awesome events that happened and everything you’re grateful for. Next thing you know, you’ll be asleep in a state of gratitude, positivity, and happiness. Sweet dreams!
Exercise: Releases endorphins and acts as a stop sign to stress hormones. Physical movement boosts oxygen to your brain. Diseases like cardiovascular disease or diabetes lead to memory loss, so getting ahead of them with preventative measures ensures better health and memory. Anything that’s good for our heart is good for our brains. Walking, jogging, dancing, hiking (even between the sheets action) pumps blood through your body clears your head. Hand eye coordination like boxing, TRX, or martial arts are great for building brain muscles. If you you’ve been sitting for a while writing your script or learning your lines and having a tough time concentrating, get that tush up and walk around for a few minutes or do some jumping jacks—just get your blood flowing again. In fact, right now, stand up, give me a little wiggle, stretch your arms all the way up, and then touch your toes. Felt good right?! Okay, keep on reading.
Manage Stress: Actors express the feelings of the characters they play. Even more important, however, is staying true to you, the person who will one day accept an award for that character. Bottled up emotions cause stress, illness, and memory to take a backseat. Create a balance between work and play. Play with friends that are positive, encouraging, genuine, and fun! Multi-tasking is so last year; one task at a time keeps you focused, accomplished, and prevents overwhelm.
Remember To Eat These: Omega 3 fatty acids boost your brain like a top agent does for your career! If you’re into our friends from the sea, always opt for Wild and Organic cold-water fish such as salmon, halibut, trout, tuna, and sardines. If you stay away from the open waters, there’s plenty omega sources sprouting up on land. Reach for walnuts, pumpkin seeds, ground flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, kidney and pinto beans, broccoli, spinach, and seaweed. I wouldn’t be playing the role of a health coach if I didn’t say, “Eat your fruits and veggies.” These antioxidant powerhouses are the superstars of your diet in fighting off damaging free radicals that nip at your brain cells. I’ll be impressed if you eat any healthful fruit or veggie, but you’ll be nominated by your performance powered by these babies: leafy greens, blueberries, avocado, tomato, and asparagus.
Workout Your Brain: Just as you move your body to strengthen muscles, you’ve got to do the same with the one between your ears. It sounds obvious, but pay attention. Turn your phone on silent, limit distractions, and prioritize what you’re learning. Anytime I learn new information, I write about it and immediately share with other people; my husband’s learned a lot more about health than he ever signed up for. Reiterating information and speaking out loud really seals material into your memory.
So what are your next steps? First get active right now, take a lap around the office or your house, and share one tip with a friend or even your dog. Count to five while inhaling and exhale for five. What’s the biggest stressor still on your mind? Go tackle that, my friend, and get it out of your head, so you can make room for the lines that will book you that killer role. Make a list of brain boosting foods and start eating like the smart performer you are!