Diane Kruger, Daria Werbowy, Tracy Anderson & more on mental health and balance.
Sometimes when, for example, we watch our iPhone clocks slip past 3, then 4 AM and still aren’t asleep, or when the only time we get away from our laptop screens during a 12-hour workday is to refill our coffee cup (ugh, this is bleak), getting some inspiration on the mental health front—you know, happiness—can be enlightening. We’re not talking #fitspo or #nodaysoff—we already feel guilty enough having missed our last two boxing classes in favor and avoiding emails for an entire weekend (gasp, we know). No, we mean motivation from women who are just as busy (if not more) as us (and just as susceptible to Sunday scarries) when it comes to how they stay sane and sleep soundly at night.
See, these questions come up a lot when we’re talking to the women we feature—mostly because, for the most part, they’re crazy successful, and yet (sometimes surprisingly) not crazy. And how? So here we present you with some words of wisdom for when it all gets to be a little too much. Bookmark this, use these quotes as affirmations when 3 AM rolls around and you're still wide awake, or just read it through and internalize, guys. And remember, we’re all in it together—even Diane Kruger and Daria Werbowy.
"I love silent retreats. There’s all kinds of different ones. I was into Vipassana for a long time, so with that, you do a 10 day silent retreat, where you meditate basically from 5 A.M. to 6 P.M. 10 days is the longest [I've done], and you stop for lunch and stuff, but I love it. [At the end], there’s an emptiness, like a beautiful emptiness. I really recommend it to people. It’s weird, because we talk so much, and you go through a very interesting exploration of how our minds work. It’s very cool." —Daria Werbowy, Model
"There is nothing as calming as a great workout. It's amazing how centered, focused and positive I always feel when I wrap a workout. Even on the grayest of days.
In my early 20s my concept of wellness was a mess. At that point all I was thinking about ever was how food and fitness made me look. I had an unhealthy relationship with food and exercise and it made me miserable. I dieted when I didn't need to, mostly because my friends were doing it, and totally wrecked my metabolism for a period by eating too little and then eating too much. Once I stepped back and relaxed about my body I was able to focus on how great healthy food and exercise made me feel. From there everything began to fall into place.” —Mary Helen Bowers, Founder, Ballet Beautiful
“I deep breathe throughout the day because that’s always available. I think the most important thing is to keep it simple and do the stuff that really works for your life. Once things get complicated it can be hard to stick to them, unless you really love it—if you love the complexities, then you’ll keep doing it. I practice something call Jin Shin Jyutsu everyday. It helps restore the energetic pathways of my body. I’ve been doing it since I was in my 20s and I really love it. It’s changes my life and it really helps me feel centered and I’m flowing with energy of the creator. That sounds so cheesy but it’s true! I do it all the time. I do it everyday, I do it 365 day a year.” —Elizabeth Cutler, Co-Founder, Soulcycle
“Working out really helps relieve stress and anxiety. I do CrossFit. I also do weight training by myself.” —Taylor Hill, Victoria’s Secret Angel
“I don't pretend [to stay sane]. I don't have a marker of what's ‘perfect’. I don't say, I will be satisfied when, or happy when, or free when... Each day is a spider web equation of where I need to give proper attention. To create balance where there is an imbalance with myself and those that rely on me. If I do less than my best, for any of that, then I have a conversation with myself on how and where I need to improve. I don't believe you can stay sane by shutting out signals from yourself or others that count on you.” —Tracy Anderson, Founder, The Tracy Anderson Method
"It took many many years to really grasp this, but I make sure I constantly clean house regarding the environment I place myself into. It is so important to surround yourself with positive energy, whether that be individuals, career, lifestyle. Like energy attracts like energy—you want to make sure this is a mantra you instill daily! Without sounding like a Woodstock hippie (or maybe I already failed), you will be surprised how keeping a circle of positive, motivated family and friends will inspire you even more. I was in an unhealthy relationship for years, and once I shed that part of my life, positive opportunities came flooding in. It was like that negative energy radiated this unseen wall of blockage, and when I let it go, it made room for all the things that were just waiting for me, but it couldn't be released until I changed my life into an environment where it could flourish." —Cipriana Quann, Co-Founder, Urban Bush Babes
“I try to get alone time as much as possible. I am a bit of an introvert and obviously in this industry, it’s a very highly stimulating environment, so sometimes I need a break. I just read a book and chill on my own and decompress. I think having good people around me who I can talk to and share the highs, but also talk to about the lows with is important. In this industry it’s sort of a work in progress: you learn to deal with the stress of the industry as you get older a lot better than when you’re starting out.” —Andreja Pejic, Model
"Wellness for me is 30 minutes every morning sitting in meditation. If I take the time to sit, I'm golden. If I don't, I'm in a dark place and no amount of organic green juice, yoga, acupuncture, massage or money can return me to the light.
Our world is suffering from a profound lack of love. It is easy to forget that you are a glorious child of the universe, an integral member of a divine fabric far greater than anything you could ever conceive of. We are in a constant, direct and indelible relationship with the innermost workings of the universe and everything we feel, think, say and do matters. The time for love is now. I also make sure to eat organically and get enough sleep." —Kelly Morris, Meditation & Yoga Teacher
"I do some visualization when I have some quiet time. Carrying a positive perspective is very important and not always easy, but staying true to yourself, and being honest to yourself will always guide you to the right frame of mind." —Maria Sharapova, Professional Tennis Player
“I used to not like myself very much as I think teenagers do and I’ve just gotten a lot nicer with myself. I know when I feel best, when I’m at a certain weight, when I eat a certain way—I just try to be really healthy without going crazy, I don’t believe in all those juicing [crazes]. I believe I should be able to eat everything I love in moderation and I kind of do.
I like to get Thai massages, which is my favorite because they’re very energizing. I like to take a day for myself usually [to decompress]. I try to not to do anything but get a manicure or pedicure—just be by myself, go see a movie by myself, not really hang out with anyone.” —Diane Kruger, Actress
“I go out to lunch or eat with coworkers in the conference room nearly every day. I’ve been doing it for years—if I don’t get away from my desk, I feel crazy.Women’s Health started a #LeanInToLunch social campaign after we discovered data that only 1 in 5 people take a lunch break during the workday! Studies show that people are both happier and more productive at work when they take breaks. I also like going to movies by myself—two hours of alone time, where I can get my mind off to-do lists? Heaven. Ditto for a long shoulder or scalp massage. I also dork out and watch Days of our Lives at night while playing Candy Crush Soda—I’m pretty sure studies would refute this, but I find this combo sort of meditative; I can half pay attention and half zone out.” —Amy Keller Laird, Editor-in-Chief, Women’s Health
“Daily meditation is a big one, and I find walking to be very meditative. I relish my morning walk from my apartment in Soho to the modelFIT studio on Bowery. Also, my commitment to doing something active everyday, that daily sweat, is just as much for my mental wellbeing as it is for keeping my body strong and fit.” —Vanessa Packer, Co-Founder, modelFIT & bonberi
“I used to think that a certain number on the scale would make me happy, but I've thankfully learned it’s not about that. That’s just a number. What’s happening on the inside is so much more important. My job is to be in shape at all times, but it doesn't have to be something you think about every second of the day. It’s a lifestyle and becomes a habit after a while. I am 23 years old and I'm still figuring out who I am. I know I love working out, but it’s all a balance. Everyone should do what makes them and their bodies happy!” —Nina Agdal, Model
“Achieving balance is a priority of mine. I'm prone to high levels of stress but have come up with a few ways to tamp it down. I've discovered that it's crucial to take time each day just for myself, whether its 5 minutes or 30, to go for a walk, read, or meet up with a friend. It's a great way to stay connected to yourself and keep you from becoming overwhelmed with the outside world. I've also learned to avoid coffee, except for the occasional cup. It makes me too jittery and only fuels the fire.
As I've gotten older, I've become much more confident and accepting of myself. As a younger woman I didn't have the confidence that I do now and wasted a lot of time wishing for things to be different physically, or materially. That's just not part of my language anymore. In my thirties I learned to love myself, to be proud of who I am and to be able to see my assets rather than perceived flaws.” —Alissa Wagner, Co-Founder, Dimes
"Exercising is big for me. I feel much more stressed out and less happy and good about myself if I don’t exercise. I don’t work out a ton—maybe about four times a week for a half hour. I notice if I’m not doing it, I start feeling generally more negative. I start feeling the most insane when I don’t leave any time in my schedule to just do stuff by myself. Especially living in New York, I can get overwhelmed. Sometimes it’s Sunday night and I’m looking at my week and I have dinner plans three nights that week and three lunches, and I don’t want to eat every single meal talking to someone else. It’s really stupid, but I actually feel like that is something, especially living in the city and having the kind of job where so much of your life is about socializing, interviewing people, talking to other people, collaborating, if I don’t find time to actually be alone, I go crazy. Luckily my parents live an hour and a half outside of New York and sometimes I’ll go for a few days to just remove myself from distractions." —Karley Sciortino, Writer, Vogue.com & Slutever.com
“I have a core group of friends that have known me for years and I can be my absolute crazy self with. We just laugh and laugh constantly. There are so many amazing memories and hysterical moments from our time together. I also make an effort to meditate daily. And noting beats a good massage.” —Simone de la Rue, Founder, Body by Simone
“I do this breathing technique called the Doctor Weil 4, 7, 8—you breath in for 4 through your nose, hold in for 7, and then you release for 8 through your mouth making sure that the tongue is sitting on the roof of your mouth. It helps with stress, internal tension and anxiety. I do a set of 4, twice a day.” —Sabrina DeSousa, Co-Founder, Dimes