The Unwind is Yahoo Life’s well-being series in which experts, influencers and celebrities share their approaches to wellness and mental health, from self-care rituals to setting healthy boundaries to the mantras that keep them afloat.
When Julianne Hough talks about carving out time for herself, she's not paying lip service. The dancer and actress — currently starring on Broadway in POTUS — tells Yahoo Life's The Unwind that she recently sat down with her therapist to break down everything she's got going on in her life, from spending time with loved ones to running her own businesses to trying to squeeze in a little self-care.
"We chunked it out into different percentages of, like, what is the focus and the priority for each one of these things? And what is your ideal scenario?" Hough says. "And I think in the past it was like 90% working on the businesses. What I realized is, ooh, if I actually really focus on 10% a day on just me, that's gonna set me up for another 10% for my friends and family and then 20% for my businesses and then 30% for my own aspirations and creativity. So I kind of chunked them out that way so that I could really allow and give myself the allotment of space to take care of myself. When I'm in a good space, then everything else thrives."
As for how she spends that 10% on herself, the face of BIC Soleil Escape's new "Tickle Your Senses" campaign says she's a big fan of soothing rituals and sensory experiences, which means you'll find her using her lavender- and eucalyptus-scented razor in the bath, in between meditations or sips of wine. Hough is a sucker for silky smooth skin who has been shaving since age 9 — "I started early," she jokes of trying to catch up to her older sisters and their beauty routines — and feels like it should be seen not as a chore but as an opportunity to "nurture" herself.
"I'm really a big believer of 'if I feel good, then I'm going to present myself well,'" the former Dancing With the Stars pro says.
Hough, 33, takes wellness seriously, working physical activity — workouts, dancing — and mindfulness rituals into her day. Mornings start off with a meditation or breathwork or working on what she calls her "morning pages" — journal entries that help her "declutter my thoughts and have a clear mind for the rest of the day." Nighttime, meanwhile, is for unwinding and "washing off the day" with a bath.
"There is a mindfulness that goes into kind of everything that I do, to help prep me for the next day," the Emmy winner says.
And then there's therapy. While talking through things with a professional is a big part of prioritizing her mental well-being, Hough says she's worked to find a balance between oversharing and being overly guarded in terms of sharing her personal life as someone in the public eye.
"I've gone from one extreme to the other, almost, over the last few years," she admits. "In one extreme, I shared everything because I was like, oh man, if somebody is going through the same experience, maybe by me sharing that will really help their experience or circumstance. And I feel like I definitely gave people an insight to a little bit more of my private life than I think was maybe healthy for me. So then I kind of went to the extreme on the other side where it was like, I'm not sharing anything about my private life."
Her goal now is to find a happy medium where she can "share in a way that is universal for everyone, but I still get to keep some things for myself that are sacred."
"That's where I feel like I've got to in this stage of life," she says. "Protecting the things that are important to me and [knowing] that I don't have to share everything, but also knowing that this would be a really valuable thing to share and not being too filtered. [I'm] still being authentic in wanting to share, because that's just who I am — I love people. I love when I learn something and how curious I get; I'm like, 'oh my gosh, I would love to share that with you.' So I still share quite a bit, but I've definitely reined it in a little bit."
Hough is currently settling into a new chapter of her life. "I'm alone in New York City for the first time in my 30s," she says of making her Broadway debut in POTUS. Though the recent Tonys co-host has been performing since childhood, breaking into the Broadway scene — especially after taking a few years off from her "artistry" to focus on her businesses and other career opportunities — is a challenge that's left her "humbled and honored."
"I feel like I've gained a whole new level of confidence — of belonging — that I haven't experienced in probably four or five years," she says, adding that confidence as a performer is something that "comes in waves."
"I don't think you ever feel 100% confident from, like, the beginning of your career to the end," she notes. "I think you have moments where you feel super-connected and confident and then some days you're like, ooh, I feel like pretty nervous right now.
"Sometimes you're high, sometimes you're not so high," Hough adds. "And I think I'm moving into that high point again, which I feel really excited about because when I'm in this place, I want to create more and share more. And there's an inner confidence that I don't necessarily need people to accept me; you want that so bad sometimes when you don't have that confidence. Now I'm just like, oh, I'm just doing me and here I am and that's it."
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