Ac­tress An­gela Bloomfield on look­ing after her body and mind

FOR­MER SHORTY STREET STAR AN­GELA BLOOMFIELD TALKS TO SARA BUNNY ABOUT FIND­ING HER­SELF AGAIN, THE DAILY HABIT THAT’S CHANGED HER LIFE, AND STAY­ING MEN­TALLY STRONG

Good Health Choices - - Content -

‘Make sure you’re get­ting enough sleep but also enough joy’

When you’ve spent the past 25 years play­ing the role of one of our most recog­nis­able screen char­ac­ters, leav­ing it all be­hind can take some get­ting used to. More than a year on from film­ing her last scenes as Short­land

Street’s Rachel McKenna, ac­tress An­gela Bloomfield is not only fo­cus­ing on new pro­jects, she’s tak­ing the time to re­cal­i­brate, re­fo­cus, and re-es­tab­lish her sense of self.

“For five days a week I was pre­tend­ing to be some­one else, and you don’t ac­tu­ally re­alise how much that moulds you un­til you stop do­ing it,” she says. “Go­ing from work­ing in that way all the time, to do­ing what I’m do­ing now has been re­ally good. I’m spend­ing more time be­ing me, and that’s been the best part about leav­ing

Short­land Street. It’s like, ‘okay, this is who I am’. It’s re­ally nice to find that again.”

With the days of a rigid film­ing sched­ule and care­fully struc­tured rou­tines be­hind her, An­gela is rel­ish­ing the chance to fo­cus on health and well­be­ing. Med­i­ta­tion has be­come a new favourite, and the re­sults have been a game-changer.

“I started med­i­ta­tion after a friend put me on to an app, and I think it’s been re­ally pow­er­ful,” she says. “Yoga feels very much like ex­er­cise to me, whereas med­i­ta­tion feels like soul food. I try to do it daily, al­though it can be hard. Then again, it only takes 10-15 min­utes, and if you haven’t got just 10 min­utes to do some­thing for you, then maybe you’re do­ing some­thing wrong!”

While prac­tis­ing med­i­ta­tion helps her find calm, An­gela hasn’t al­ways been so at ease. A long-time suf­ferer of panic at­tacks, she had to learn to iden­tify her trig­gers, as well as ways to keep her over­ac­tive mind in check.

“I’ve suf­fered panic at­tacks since my 20s,” she says. “They abated for a wee while but then came back – not full on ones, al­though I did have a cou­ple of those at work! I can def­i­nitely feel now when they are com­ing on. When you have the sort of brain where it doesn’t take much for it to go ‘woooo’ with what­ever your trig­ger is, you have to be able to talk your­self off the ledge.

“I think shar­ing is re­ally im­por­tant, and I have key peo­ple who I trust, and who I down­load to in a ma­jor way. It’s also about mak­ing sure you look after your­self; make sure you’re get­ting enough sleep but also enough joy. It’s im­por­tant to see friends and laugh and have a glass of wine.”

Find­ing balance

Along­side keep­ing pos­i­tive and en­joy­ing time with good friends, An­gela cred­its a healthy diet and reg­u­lar ex­er­cise as the key foun­da­tion of her well­be­ing tool­kit. For the mum of two who did bal­let through­out her teens, ex­er­cise used to be about push­ing her­self into the most ac­tive pur­suits pos­si­ble. But over the past few years, Pi­lates classes and head­ing into the great out­doors have formed the base of her work­outs.

“My kind of phys­i­cal is go­ing for a walk, run, or bike ride,” says the 45-year-old. “Gyms don’t re­ally work for me. I pre­fer my ex­er­cise to be a by-prod­uct of some­thing else. I’ve never re­ally pumped big weights or any­thing like that, but I would much rather feel strong and healthy than be re­ally lit­tle. And I like to eat!”

The re­formed “picky eater” says eggs, nuts and fruit are part of her daily sta­ples, and she’s learn­ing to give veges more of a star­ring role. She avoids reg­i­mented di­ets and, most im­por­tantly, doesn’t put too much pres­sure on her­self. “I’m not one of those peo­ple who are vig­i­lant about things. I’ve worked out if I tell my­self I can’t have some­thing, then pretty much straight away

‘I WOULD MUCH RATHER FEEL STRONG AND HEALTHY THAN BE RE­ALLY LIT­TLE. AND I LIKE TO EAT!’

I want it, so it’s bet­ter to just work on a re­ward ba­sis. If I eat okay for a cou­ple of days, then I let my­self pig out for a meal!”

A tough call

Look­ing back on her past on-screen life as Rachel, there’s no deny­ing it’s been a wild ride. Since land­ing the role at 19, she guided her char­ac­ter through a raft of crises, adapted her life around the long days and whirl­wind speed of film­ing a nightly soap, and grew more than two decades older on the na­tion’s TV screens. De­spite the stresses of the TV world, it was a hard de­ci­sion to pull the pin, but An­gela knew it was the right time to walk away.

“I’d played her for a con­sid­er­able amount of time,” she muses. “I don’t want peo­ple to say, ‘She didn’t like it, that must be why she left.’ How long do you have to stay at some­thing to prove to peo­ple you en­joyed it?! I’m at that point in my life where it’s not too late to es­tab­lish my­self off screen, and I didn’t want to leave it too late. It’s still re­ally hard, as peo­ple see me solely as an ac­tor. I’m al­ways say­ing to peo­ple, ‘but I can do these other things!’ But they’ve men­tally placed you some­where else.”

Other irons in the fire in­clude de­vel­op­ing web se­ries and film scripts with her close friend, screen­writer Kate McDer­mott, along­side more di­rect­ing and per­haps pen­ning a com­edy drama show. She’s ex­cited by the pos­si­bil­i­ties, but she’s also can­did about the re­al­i­ties of go­ing from a sta­ble in­come to the un­cer­tainty of life as a free­lanc­ing cre­ative.

“I’m en­joy­ing it, but if I’m hon­est, things haven’t picked up as much as I’d have liked them to,” says An­gela, who is mum to Max, 13, and Maya, 11. “It’s mak­ing sure what you are do­ing still has value in your head, just be­cause it’s not yet bring­ing in any money. That’s what be­ing a cre­ative is; it’s sit­ting down and spend­ing hours writ­ing and de­sign­ing, or do­ing ap­pli­ca­tions in the hope some­one funds you and you can make some­thing.

“It’s tough. It takes big balls to go, ‘I re­ally back this, and I’m go­ing to put it all on the line and con­vince other peo­ple to back this too.’ Knock­backs are a big part of it, and oh my lord, we’ve had so many knock­backs that we just can’t stop!”

Liv­ing in the mo­ment

As she sips herbal tea at a bustling cen­tral Auck­land café, An­gela’s re­laxed and up­beat. She’s philo­soph­i­cal about the hard days she’s faced while nav­i­gat­ing new ca­reer ter­ri­tory, but if there’s one thing this phase has taught her, it’s how vi­tal it is to look after her men­tal and emo­tional health.

“When you’re in a place that feels so dif­fer­ent, you have to gather your­self, have a strong men­tal game and be cen­tred,” she

says. “I’ve thought about pack­ing it all in and just get­ting a job that’s not like what I’m do­ing, but ev­ery time I go to do it I’m like ‘hang on, hang on, it’s only been about 12 months.’”

These days, she loves hav­ing the chance to en­joy a walk or a ses­sion tin­ker­ing in the kitchen, but most of all, she has more time to spend with Maya and Max.

“I do have this other thing called moth­er­hood,” she says, “and it’s pretty de­mand­ing! I’m in a much bet­ter place now to be a mum. They’re both pre-teens so their emo­tions are quite rife; there’s a lot more talk­ing and dis­cus­sions after school. It’s al­most trick­ier than car­ing for a young child as it’s not rudi­men­tary any­more. They have very dif­fer­ent needs, but they both need your wis­dom and life ex­pe­ri­ence. In a way it’s the right time for me to have a slightly cruisier work life, so I can be home at 3pm.”

And for An­gela, who ad­mits words like ‘cruisy’ and ‘flex­i­ble’ haven’t al­ways been part of her vo­cab­u­lary, curb­ing her ten­dency to con­trol life with a vice­like grip has been a key part of her new jour­ney. “I’m def­i­nitely not steer­ing the ship as hard now as I was 15 years ago,” she says thought­fully. “In my 20s, I was way too con­trol­ling; I wasn’t let­ting the world turn, I was get­ting in the way. But look­ing back, I think the less rules you bind your­self to, the bet­ter. That way you’re able to let stuff hap­pen and go with it. While I still need to have a bit of a plan, I’m a lot more open to the world.”

‘IN MY 20S I WAS WAY TOO CON­TROL­LING. I WASN’T LET­TING THE WORLD TURN’

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