To many people, a successful acting career means a celebrity lifestyle with glitzy parties, red carpet premieres, fancy cars and oodles of cash.

The reality is often far from this, says well-known Kiwi actress Brooke Williams.

“You can go from working seven days a week, all hours of the day and night on different projects, to having months of no work and feeling pretty down about it. It can feel like you have very little control of your schedule, your finances and sometimes your emotions.”

Brooke says that if this lifestyle isn’t managed well it can really wear you down, so she believes it’s really important to stay mentally healthy.

“Challenges come from every direction and it’s vital to try and maintain a strong sense of self, so that you don’t get blown around by other people’s opinions.

“It’s an industry full of contradictions. You are required to be very vulnerable and emotionally available, but also incredibly strong and have a really thick skin.”

Add some structure to your life

In a career that is so fluid, Brooke looks after her wellbeing by putting structure into her personal life.

She attends yoga classes regularly, and runs: “I went from being able to run 4km to 22km in three months – and it’s free!”

She also tries to eat food she knows is going to make her body feel nourished, and takes time to write in a journal every morning.

“You can make some amazing discoveries about where you’re at and why, and I’ve had heaps of inspiration for short stories, so it’s win-win.”

Support from friends so valuable

The 31-year-old ran the 2015 Round the Bays in support of the Mental Health Foundation, because she has seen how many others struggle with their mental health.

She recalls once having a tough time at work, and one of her best friends wrote her an amazing letter.

“It was detailed and specific and made me aware of all the things I had to offer without even knowing it. It was so beautiful and unexpected. I read it every day for a long time.”

She wishes mental health concerns were more widely discussed. “It’s up to us all to look after each other, and talking about the struggles we all face openly can really help people feel less isolated and alone.”