Finding Balance: Navigating Mental Health in the Adult Entertainment Industry

Performers, by the very nature of their job, find themselves living in the public eye, juggling the pressures of performance, reputation, and expectations. And then, when you stop and consider that we are working within the adult industry, all of those moments of scrutiny are compounded by being physically objectified.
Apr 10 2024

I won’t get into statistics because that’s boring and I don’t want to drop names because this isn’t about just any one tragedy of losing a performer, but … it happens on a regular basis. And every time an announcement goes out that we’ve lost someone or that one of their friends is setting up a GoFundMe to defray final expenses for the family left behind, it’s a heartbreaking experience.

So, what do we do about it? And how do we stop it from happening?

It’s a good question and the answers are not easy. But to start with, the intense level of visibility that performers face can have a profound impact on mental health, as the line between personal and public becomes increasingly blurred. But maintaining mental health and fitness is also essential for our physical and financial wellbeing. So, in the spirit of remembering those who we have lost, and preserving the sanity of everyone who is still here, I wanted to offer some strategies for maintaining mental fitness as a public persona.

Prioritize Self-Care

This is a fast-paced life that seemingly never stops. So, above all else, taking care of yourself is crucial, especially in an industry where physical appearance and performance are highly valued. This can include practicing good hygiene, eating well, exercising regularly, and setting aside time for relaxation and self-reflection. We all have times when you need to hit pause, and if that’s where you’re at, hit pause and take however much time you need to settle and re-focus.

Establish Boundaries

It’s important to set boundaries both personally and professionally. This can include limiting the amount of personal information shared with the public, setting clear expectations for work hours and availability, and knowing when to say no to requests or opportunities that may compromise mental well-being.

We’ve all heard the horror stories of someone being doxed, but don’t out yourself. Pay attention to the photos you post. Are there any identifiable features that will give away your real name, address, or other details? I have known of several performers who simply will not post photos of any location UNTIL they have already left. That way, if someone who intends to harm them is tracking them, that predator is always a day late and a dollar short. Don’t give yourself away through posting without caution on social media.

Normalize Reaching out for Support!

In a high-pressure industry like adult entertainment, it’s important to have a support network of friends, family, or fellow performers who can provide emotional support and understanding. Don’t allow things to reach the level of becoming a crisis, there are too many resources out there. Off the top of my head and outside of close friends and family (if you’re lucky enough to have family), are Pineapple Support, The Cupcake Girls, and private practitioners that we should be reaching out to. That’s what they are here for. There is no shame in seeking therapy or other forms of professional mental health support that can be beneficial in maintaining overall well-being.

Practice Mindfulness

Being present in the moment and practicing mindfulness techniques, such as meditation or deep breathing exercises, can help reduce stress and anxiety levels. At the 2024 AVN Expo, Laisha, Samantha and Valerie from F#CK The Stigma were passing out self-care packages to performers, which included journals. I thought this was a very simple, but effective way of practicing self-awareness.

woman in black shirt and gray pants sitting on brown wooden bench

Journaling your thoughts is a great way to really know how you are feeling, and you don’t have to be a terrific author to do it. Nope, it’s not about that. Keep in mind, the journal is only for you. Jot down what you’re feeling in the moment and then, use that to reflect later. By doing so, you can start to pinpoint triggers where you are feeling a bit on the edge, and then, you can learn to avoid those kind of events … these triggers. And if you can’t eliminate them, then still use any resource to learn to effectively deal with them and put those causes for trauma in their place.

Take Breaks

It’s important to take breaks from work and social media, especially when the lines between personal and public life are blurred. Yes, it’s true that we use our social media to drive visibility and sales, but if you’re not around to reap those benefits, it doesn’t do much good, right? So, learn to tell yourself that it’s “Okay” to unplug and reset. During that time, go outside for a walk or binge watch a show. If you’re into gaming, that’s another form of release that can help with a mental reset. Remember, you’re only human.

Get Enough Rest and Stay Healthy

Taking care of yourself physically and mentally is essential for overall well-being. Join a gym. Take a walk. Eat healthy. Limit or do away with drug and alcohol use and … get enough sleep. Let me repeat that. SLEEP.

white cat sleeps under white comforter

There is no replacement for being a well-rested human being. When you’re tired, it’s easier for things to get to you. Also, if you’re worn out physically, you’re more likely to get sick or run-down, which … can lead to feeling run-down emotionally. Remember, we are only human beings. We are finite creatures. We need routine self-care, and we absolutely need sleep in order to function.

Educate Yourself

Don’t rely on columns like this, your agent, your BFF, or some other industry outlet to tell you what’s important. There is no replacement for finding out on your own. Watch the news. Do google searches on things that you’re dealing with. Find out! It’s important to stay informed and educated about the adult entertainment industry, including current laws and regulations, safety measures, and mental health resources. All of this can help when you’re making decisions and feel empowered that you’re doing the right thing for you.

Check on your fellow performers and friends!

In an industry that can feel isolating at times, it’s important to stay connected and support each other. What many people outside the business don’t understand, even the fans, is how isolating the spotlight can be. It’s lonely.

Let’s be honest. From a distance, everything seems perfect. But in reality, you’re all by yourself, and sometimes, you don’t have anybody to talk to or someone nearby who can relate, especially when it comes to industry work. The only people who can relate are those who are in the business. And that’s okay. But during those times, take a minute and pick up the phone. Reach out to friends regularly and talk with them. And then, when someone calls on you for help, return the favor by offering a listening ear or lending a helping hand when needed. When we all act together, we can make a difference.

Remember Your Worth

It’s easy to get caught up in the demands of the industry and forget your own value and worth as a person. Even though the Clips4Sale or OF might have a $$$ amount listed as the value for a vid or photo set, remember that you, as a person, are priceless.

And then, live by that creed.

Yes, we put ourselves on display for money. But you know what? If you look at any other job in the world, on some level, everyone is putting themselves or offering their labor for money. So, you’re not alone in that. Instead, you’re just doing things in a way that most people aren’t equipped to handle.

Remind yourself that, no matter what anyone says, nobody is perfect and you’re only human. So be authentic and remain conscious of that. In a world where almost everything seems fake, keeping it real isn’t a bad way to do business.


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