For so many of us, the last year has seen a total restructuring in how we care for our families and ourselves. For actor, blogger, and mother of three Genevieve Padalecki, 2020 and early 2021 have given her the time to really consider where she wants to put her energy and all the ways she wants to care for herself and her community.
As the keynote speaker at SK Conversations: New Year, Now You, Padalecki sat down with SheKnows Editor-in-Chief Eugenia Miranda Richman to chat about how her approach to self-care has evolved throughout the pandemic, the habits she tries to stick with (early morning workouts with her husband, Jared Padalecki of CW’s Walker and Supernatural, and screen diets), and her latest project: TOWWN (Take Only What We Need), a community connecting experts and everyday people to live more consciously and sustainably.
You can watch the full conversation here and check out a few of the highlights below.
“I think that before the pandemic I really felt like I was powering through everything and wellness was a whole other story. And now I feel as though I’m confronted with self-care and having to really pay attention to my needs — because we’re sort of in this box, in this bubble, trapped in our homes and having to parent, mother, and partner and also work and feed ourselves all under one roof without really leaving. So I feel like the need to really take care of myself has significantly been highlighted. I think I can recognize it a lot more than before,” Padalecki says. “For a long time, I felt as though I was powering through. I’m really into accomplishments and working and I love to try new things and tackle and accomplish them but, for me, I really realized that those things are great as long as they’re feeding and fueling me.”
“Moving into 2021, I want to move into it with less and more self-fulfillment,” she says. “And more listening — like really listening. I thought I was a good listener before but when you’re surrounded by your family all the time, I realized that I wasn’t as good of a listener as I could’ve been. So moving into 2021, I want to be a better listener and do a lot less, work smarter and not harder. I know that’s a common saying but that’s what really stands out for 2021.”
“I think it’s about habits and creating healthy habits and being in tune with that need to check-in,” Padalecki says. “What I’ve started doing is leaving my phone at home. If I’m car-pooling in the morning or afternoon, or if I leave my house, I’m trying to leave my phone at home a lot more. I’ve also recently purchased a different kind of phone, which is really small and is supposed to help prevent you from being on your phone [too much]. We all have to be digitally connected, it’s kind of the only way right now that we’re able to connect with each other — and in the future I don’t see that going anywhere. But we really just need to be aware of what those habits… Going back to the listening and being present, which means for me that there is a time and place to be checking my phone and there is nothing right now that needs my complete attention that I need my phone on me. So what’s in front of me is what I’m really trying to focus on, being present.”
“When I was younger I got great self-care [advice] from my mom — and it was more vain things like ‘Make sure that you always moisturize your hands and your neck first. Don’t neglect them,’ because they always show your signs of age, which is more superficial self-care stuff. But the real self-care is to feed yourself and it’s again another generic saying, but I love the saying about putting your oxygen mask on first. I think, being a parent, that was really difficult to listen to — because it felt so self-serving. It felt like ‘my kids come first, my family comes first, I need to come second.’ But I really feel strongly that if you don’t nurture yourself and take care of yourself, you’re going to be a terrible partner, a terrible parent, a terrible friend. You really have to be okay being selfish with yourself and nurturing yourself.’
“I have loved all of the online classes that have popped up. [Like] OpenFit, so many amazing classes you can take and sort of fit your need from more high intensity to meditation and calming things. I also really enjoy Headspace — I’ve really found it’s helpful to do as a family, I do it with my children…Another one is Booty by Mich, she’s a Vancouver workout instructor and she has one of the most amazing classes. If you ever want to get an insane butt, her online classes are pretty amazing.”
“We get up really early, and I say ‘we’ because my husband really started that habit of getting up super early. So this morning we were up at 4:30 am, working out before the kids get up. We get all of our needs out before we go get them and it helps us center,” Padalecki says. “So it just kind of helps us center and get ready, we’ve accomplished things before our day and before we get the kids up, and I really feel like that has helped us. It’s not for everyone — 4:30 is an ungodly hour to get up and sometimes it’s like ‘gross, why am I up this early?’ — but it’s one of the things that I feel really helps set us up for more success throughout the day.”
“I’m kind of a loner and I really miss being alone and it’s been a very, very long time since I’ve had any alone time,” she says. “So I almost want to go on a solo trip, as weird as that sounds. I just need to re-center, like two nights by myself, and just kind of get lost in the woods. I’ll reemerge eventually, but I just miss that. “
“Every day mom guilt is inevitable, unfortunately. But it’s something we’re born with when we have children, it’s like a hormone that just happens. There isn’t a day where I don’t feel some sort of guilt, like ‘I didn’t prep my kid well enough for this situation at school’ or ‘I’m not as present’ or not around. No matter what, it’s there — but, I think, by acknowledging that guilt and that I’m making these choices, just thinking about the gain you’ll [receive from alone time], in a selfish way, if I take this time for myself or if I’m going to remove myself, if I need to take a day… is that going to feed me? Do I feel like coming back am I going to be a better parent? So I think, looking at it in those terms, the gain from that and the return and taking out the emotion aspect, we can look at guilt as something outside of ourselves.”
“This has been in the works for a couple of years now and for me, I just felt a sense of burnout in general. It really stems from how I was trying to marry being a working mom from home and a present mom and ‘how do I do this and also be a good friend?’…I was feeling all these things, and being more of a recluse, I really enjoy retreating in nature. Nature has always always been something that fed me and made me feel like I could re-center myself. And it’s also something I feel as a mother that I can do with my children with or without my partner there — so I really feel like nature is something I can rely on as a back-up babysitter in a weird way. Like, let’s go get lost, let’s go on a hike, let’s put this hammock up and chill out and get some books and coloring books. I was thinking about that, and that sort of symbiotic relationship we have with nature and wanted to figure out a way to weave that into our own lives and it goes back into sustaining ourselves,” she says. “This new venture and this adventure we’re going on is a journey into sustainability and what sustains us first. And it bleeds over to moms and dads and kids and singles and whoever. Just, how do we sustain ourselves and do that in a really positive, productive way? With no doom and gloom involved, no ‘hey the planet is dying, what are we going to do?’ but ‘what are things we can feed ourselves and make a positive impact so we that can make a positive impact on our community at large and the planet?’”
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