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VOCAL HEALTH
Are You Stressed? Exhausted? Here's
12 Ways To Avoid Voice Over Fatigue 
June 30, 2015

Dave Courvoisier
Voice Actor & TV News Anchor

You’ll find it right there in the Voice Over Dictionary: VO Fatigue: 
"…a psycho/physiological syndrome exhibited by the accumulative stress and exhaustion resulting from the endless pursuit of freelance voice over success…”
We’ve all been there. The syndrome strikes irrespective of age, gender, race, time of year, time of day, or relative humidity. Some of the ore obvious signs and signals are:
  • irascibility
  • depression
  • dry mouth
  • sleeplessness
  • despair
  • frustration
  • tears
  • (and sometimes, hair-loss, gout, and vertigo)
I kid. But I think you get the picture, and it’s not necessarily unique to voice acting, but it IS common among those who strive to run their own business. Everything is ultimately on YOUR shoulders. 

That can mean good things … like when that big fat check comes in for a long project you just completed. 

But more often than not, it means the strain of constantly propping-up the business with the sheer force of your will. Day after day, week after week, the success of this endeavor depends on you. Your energy. Your talent. Your determination. Your resourcefulness.

WHAT TO DO?

Unless you take some intercessory steps here ‘n’ there, the pressure of it can lead to VO Fatigue. Herewith, then, my 12+ Ways to Avoid VO Fatigue:

1. Walk Away 

Leave the premises. See a movie. Waste time in the park with your dog. You’d be surprised how much good an hour can do engaged in something mindless. Severe cases may require a coupla days…even a week. Plan for it. Then do it. Everybody needs a break, even freelancers.

2. Call a Friend 
No one is going to "get” your situation more than a trusted friend (esp. a VO friend). If a friend called you, wouldn’t you listen? Reverse the roles, and fire away. One of these days he/she will call, and you can return the favor.

3. Cut Your Losses  
Two ways this works:
  • Dump clients who pay too little, and bother you too much.
  • Unsubscribe from services that are giving you little-to-no return on your investment. 
Either way, be sensible and realistic. Why continue in relationships that don’t benefit your bottom line?

4. Maintain Your Health  
How many times have you heard "if you have your health, you have everything”? 

A strong constitution will see you through a lot of trials and troubles. Not that you should abuse it, but when you are in good shape, you can push the envelope a little more and not suffer for it.This includes getting enough sleep!

5. Ask for Help  
Chances are someone has just the answer to your quandary, or your predicament, or frustration. Like "call a friend”, there is no shame in raising a red flag and seeking assistance. Online. On the phone. Via Skype. Float a balloon, be amazed how quickly someone grabs it.

6. Keep a Routine 
Routines are funny things. On a creative day, routine can seem like a ball ‘n’ chain, but when you’re reached a point of fatigue, the comfort factor of a routine can put you back on the rails. A routine adds structure that will see you through frustration.

7. No Excuses, No Procrastination 

If it gets that bad, utilize #1 above (take a walk). Put your big britches on and face the music. Like Nike, Just Do It.

I’ve often convinced myself that a five-minute hurdle is bigger than Mt. Everest. It’s not. Think through the task, and you’ll realize it’s not that bad.

8. Realize Rejection Is Not Personal 

This is HUGE in our business. What’s the saying? "Audition, then forget it.” Get more coaching, sure. Improve your demo, yeah. But hand-wringing over a lost audition is wasted tears. Move on.

9. Have a Strategy for Eventuality 

You KNOW fatigue is gonna hit you sooner or later. Plan for it. I’m serious. 

Write out a step-by-step escape plan, seal it in an envelope, and keep it in a safe place. When the gremlins get to be too much … break open the envelope, and follow your plan to the letter.

10. Curry Non-VO Friendships 

Not that voice actors aren’t the most charming people in the world, but balance is a good thing. Don’t neglect old friendships from school or an earlier career, or even the next-door-neighbor who re-upholsters furniture for a living. It helps you to put things in perspective.

11. Get One Thing Done 

It can be really small. Just do it, and do it right. Take a moment to revel in the instant of the achievement, then maybe tackle something a little harder. We all want a "win.” Parlay one win into another.

12. Take a  Social Media Break (or watch mindless TV) 
A half-hour on FaceBook or Twitter will usually shake you out of your blues, and you’ll soon realize one of two things:
  • Everyone else’s troubles are worse than yours
  • The world is a crazy place, and you have more than earned your place in it. 
HONORABLE MENTION: Laughter really is the best medicine 
When I least wanted to, my daughter used to call to me to come and see something. It was usually stupid cat videos on YouTube, but I gotta admit, the chuckle (or belly-laugh) it gave me brought me out of my funk.

Keep good humor, and spread good humor. Making others laugh is magical.
---------------------
ABOUT DAVE
Dave Courvoisier is an Emmy Award-winning broadcaster, writer, producer, voice actor, and the main weeknight news anchor on KLAS-TV, Channel 8, the Las Vegas CBS affiliate. He also writes Voice-Acting in Vegas, a daily blog of voice over adventures, observations and technology, and is author and publisher of the book, More Than Just A Voice: The Real Secret To VoiceOver Success.

Email: CourVO@CourVO.com
Web: http://www.courvo.com
Blog: http://www.courvo.biz
More Than Just A Voice: http://courvo.com/more-than-just-a-voice

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Comments (6)
Yvonne Schwemmer
6/30/2015 at 12:52 PM
For the items that involve stepping away whether for a few minutes or a week or two, I have had to learn to do so without guilt. I'm only two years from having left my corporate career and I still have to remind myself that I'm my own boss - and a good one at that (okay, I'm a work in progress). Thanks for these very useful tips, Dave!
Debbie Grattan
6/30/2015 at 11:48 AM
Yes, I can relate. And when it's your family business, it's even harder to take a break! A walk in the fresh air is a great daily break, an open door for new ideas to flow for me. Also, I think conversing with other entrepreneurs (not in the VO biz) can help to unlock some fresh ideas and provide a different perspective on things. And, a true vacation can reset that work clock, too. I didn't see that on the list, but I do think unplugging from everything for a week, once or twice a year, can be a great refresher. I'm not a VO actor that takes gear with me. For me, vacation is about resting, not working. It's too much stress to deal with trying to please clients, from a different time zone, while planning a jet ski time, massage, or yoga class at the beach!
Elizabeth Holmes
6/30/2015 at 11:04 AM
Thank you for these helpful (and practical) tips, Dave! "Planning Your Comeback" (#9) is a little-known, and highly useful strategy. I've been self-employed for over 31 years. There's nothing like knowing about --and planning for-- an adjustment like this.

It sounds counter-intuitive, but working hard and pushing through obstacles doesn't always yield the best results. Sometimes you need another perspective, and you'll trust your *own* perspective if you take the time to write down your best ideas at a time when you're NOT burnt out (and cranky).
Jason Watt
6/30/2015 at 10:52 AM
Fantastic advice, Dave! So many people in their pursuit of a career or success get overwhelmed and fatigued, which will affect their skills and talent - so important to get out of the booth or home studio and enjoy the life around you. There is a balance between living to work or working to live, and when you find it success will follow - and not to mention, you'll live longer and enjoy it!
Johnny Davis
6/30/2015 at 9:10 AM
Great advice for any professional artist, not only voice actors. We can all get burned out if
we push ourselves over the brink.

Thanks a bunch, Dave.
Howard Ellison
6/30/2015 at 4:55 AM
All so true, Dave. Trying to hit two deadlines at once, I got stressed out to the point where a gentle reminder to water the garden threw me into a huge bottled-up rage.

You mention irascibility: snatching up the heavy hose reel, my back went out for the first time ever. Agony. I should have recorded the screams for portfolio. Only now beginning to move around - that's two or three weeks lost. Completely self-inflicted.
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