How to unwind when your life is entertainment

Earlier this week I wrote an article on why people in the entertainment industry often struggle to disengage from work when they are trying to relax. I do not want to rehash the whole piece, but the basic idea is that we connect all forms of entertainment with work, which means we take everything we enjoy and filter through things like business, money, etc.

There are admittedly far larger problems in the world right now than the relaxation of entertainment professionals. That said, we all have to choose our battles in life, and this one happens to be something I can help you conquer. My approach is simple, but it will take some adjustment to make it suit your needs and lifestyle.

Here it is: Find something to obsess over that you would never need to apply to your work.

This is harder than it sounds, but it can be done. You love a million things about entertainment. I know this because you’ve chosen to try and make a living in a field everyone tells you not to try and make a living in. You love of entertainment runs deep, and somewhere in that love is a thing you can separate from the rest as your personal slice of heaven.

Let me give you an example, and this is 100% true:

When I need to unwind and escape the worries of the week I seek to find and purchase every film the actor Nicolas Cage has ever made on DVD or Blu-ray.

You may think this would easy in the age of digital access, but I have a rule that I cannot use sites like Amazon or eBay to find his work. The only way I can buy the films of Nicolas Cage – all 86 of them – is through purchases made in the real world. I have to buy the films brand new in store, which is only possible for a small number of titles, or find them through garage sales, pawn shops, flea markets, and the few remaining video stores scattered throughout the United States.

The adventure, which I have dubbed ‘Cage Quest,’ may sound silly to you. To be honest, it sounds silly to me, but when I am working on this project I am not thinking about my email. I am not thinking about whether or not I can apply what I’m learning or doing to my job in some way. I’m not trying to turn my hobby into a new work thing and that is kind of a first for me.

Furthermore, my personal Cage Quest gets me out of my house and into the real world where I am able to experience corners of culture that have largely fallen by the wayside in recent years. The majority of the films I buy are previously used, meaning at some point they meant something special to the original owner or that they theoretically entertained dozens of families through their life on a rental shelf. The discs themselves have stories and legacies, and that is kind of fascinating to me.

My quest has become such a staple of my free time that even my family has gotten involved. Finding and exploring used video stores has become something of a tradition for us, and with each film we find we also have a movie night at our home where I am able to join them in simply losing myself in the story on screen. Those are the moments I treasure most because they remind me of why I started this journey in entertainment in the first place. I was a fan first and I always will be, which I am reminded of whenever I am able to shake the worries of work and just enjoy the work of others.

Will my Cage Quest work for you? Probably not, but that is the point I was making when I said it is a little harder to find something to obsess over than you would think. Nicolas Cage is an actor I have always admired, but it wasn’t until I found myself sifting through used DVDs at a random pawn shop one day that I thought to begin seeking out his whole catalog. It was an idea that came to me out of the blue, like a million others I have every day, but for some reason it stuck with me. I thought it sounded like fun, and perhaps more importantly like something no one else I knew would ever think to attempt. I knew Cage Quest could be my ‘thing’ and my thing alone, which in turn made it special.

If you’re reading this now I urge you to find something similar in your life. Think of the things you love and look for a unique way to enjoy it. If everyone else thinks you’re a little crazy, who cares? If it makes you happy and gives you a brief escape from the worries of the work week that is all that really matters.


James Shotwell is the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. He is also the Film Editor for Substream Magazine, host of the Inside Music podcast, and ten-year music writing veteran. For more stories and nonsense, follow James on Twitter.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.