I was reading Rainn Wilsons autobiography a while back and came across a quote that may be about theatre but it is very relevant to improv:
‘The study of acting can become a heroin-like obsession and can take over your life.’ – Rainn Wilson, The Bassoon King
This is so true with improv – I know so many people (including myself) that once you get a pinch of the improv drug you become addicted and try to find as many things as you can related to the form that you can do. I know that there is actually a time where you can do too much improv and have a physical burnout. If this happens to you, don’t panic it happens to a lot of improvisers and it can be your body telling you to have a break.
Burnout can be described as
‘A state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands’ – helpguide.org
Now, I know that improv does not cause stress but if you do too much of you it can emotionally drain you, whether it is from the fact that you are doing to much or whether the highs of the laughter and the plainness of the next day having an effect – you need to have a timeout.
When I say a timeout, I do not mean forever, I mean for a short time, just to recuperate because if you don’t you will stop enjoying improv and start to see it as a chore. The odd week away from improv can really refresh you and put you into a new frame of mind and more focused.
There are many improvisers I have spoken to that need time out ever so often to get away from it. Improv is so much fun but when you have a lot of it in one go it can really take over your life and get on top of you. Sometimes you need a bit of a time out, it is not a failure, it is a way to develop.