Quarantined With Laura Dern: 6 Ways She Changed the Way I Feel About Wellness

laura dern


Perhaps this goes without saying, but, I'm a huge Laura Dern fan. I fell in love with her first in Wild at Heart, a '90s movie she starred in alongside Nicolas Cage that vacillates from dark romance to comedy to crime with impeccable skill. It was written and directed by David Lynch, of course. Since then, Dern has been so heavily part of the Hollywood lexicon, starring in Blue Velvet, Jurassic Park, and HBO's undeniably addicting Big Little Lies, it's difficult to think of a time when she wasn't telling us stories through film. But with a global pandemic and instructions to stay inside, Dern has decided to continue to tell us stories—only this time, rather than watching her on-screen, you can listen to her on an app. Technology, right?

Her partnership with the Calm app and Natural Vitality Calm supplement powder is what brings us together today, albeit over the phone rather than in person. She picks up and jumps right in, answering all my questions before I could even ask them. Her voice is soothing, just the like products she stands behind, and her insight is unmatched. "Clearly this is the conversation we’re all longing to have," she tells me. "We’re just all trying to figure out, at this unprecedented and terrifying time, how to be calm, centered, and how to handle stress and anxiety." She adds, "I think people feel a lot of guilt to be able to include self-care as part of their day," to which I respond, "You took the words right out of my mouth." Below, find everything Laura Dern had to say about holistic wellness, scheduling during isolation, storytelling, and other helpful rituals to get through quarantine. I could listen to her talk all day...

On scheduling her day during isolation...

"I’m much more centered at night. I personally wake up with anxiety—it’s like 'what’s happening today, what happened last night.' There’s a little bit of that. A good day is making sure I don’t look at my phone first. I go right to sitting up and doing my meditation practice, taking those few minutes to myself. People who say they 'don’t have time' are often taking those same minutes on Instagram or checking the news. So that is a real savior.

"We started to schedule our day, every day, with our children. Every morning I say, 'These are things that need to get done today.' And then I break it down by hour—this is the hour I clean, and so forth. I try to start the day with something nutritious, so we’re making breakfast, we’re all taking our supplements. And then the day unfolds as it does—with tons of cleaning, cooking, school, and all the other things that everyone’s juggling. But then we try to do the same thing at night, so whether it’s a bath, an online yoga class, or we all meditate together, or watch a show that makes us really laugh. We’re now doing Zoom with a couple of family friends and we each pick a movie.

"[The kids] have their designated school time. But also, we schedule in time to share. We can all share different things. I actually went on the Calm app with my family and we had story time. Since then, we've been doing stories every night. The other thing that I think really helps is we take time every day for service. Every day I ask them to show me something I didn’t know about. For instance, people who are making masks and where they’re providing them, or a Meals on Wheels for the family of health care providers. We’ve been trying to figure out how to be helpful."

On the importance of storytelling...

"Now that my kids are teenagers, we don’t have that peaceful story time that we all had growing up. We need it, it works! It helps destress us. So, we pulled out some books from their childhood and we’re reading those each night. I read them a David Sedaris short story last night to switch it up, and we listened to Lebron’s Calm app stories, and we’ve done a few other things that have really helped. My friend and I are working on a Zoom call with the senior center to have story time with them."

It's very helpful to remember what came before this and what will come after.

On restful sleep...

[Restful sleep] has been really hard. The kids are on spring break, and it’s been tricky because there’s no schedule. When they're doing the online schooling, it really helps me, as a parent, to create a bedtime, a wake-up time, and a breakfast and lunch schedule. I think it’s been hard for a lot of families, especially because spring break is meant to be fun for the kids. And engaging them in fun, while you’re managing the day and you’re in your own anxiety, is so much for a lot of parents—especially with younger kids who don’t understand what’s happening and can’t relate.

"I have teenagers and they’re feeling the same kind of anxiety I am. So, we can talk about it. We talk about how to support our mind and our body with general physical care, with supplements, the Natural Vitality Calm powder, the Calm app. It’s the first way I connected to the product. I’ve been taking magnesium powder for years and my whole family does. It’s part of our bedtime ritual to take it every night before bed and it really helps. When I don’t, I really feel the difference. It’s definitely a major calming, sleep, and digestion aid. Having the ritual to keep balance feels really vital."

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On a holistic approach to wellness...

"It’s everything. I take it for granted in that I seem to only do it when I don’t need it most. Or I do it because it’s a discipline I’ve become used to because I’m working on a movie. The rituals of self-care really matter, but when in crisis—and I know everyone can relate to this—that's the time when we’re not sleeping, we’re not eating well, we don’t take those extra few minutes. And something does happen, some kind of guilt overtakes, because others are suffering, or there’s too much to do, or too many people in need.

"But in this pandemic, we are required to put our health first. That is the best thing to do, to keep other people healthy. If ever we’ve needed a reminder to take care of ourselves, to understand what that looks like, it's now. It’s really essential to not be run down right now. That’s key, but it can also really stress people out. I not to watch the news right before bed, I try to meditate, have our story time, take our vitamins, do all these things that really help me a lot."

On inspiring her kids with movies...

"I’m always trying to get my kids to watch the movies that inspired me when I was growing up. I reached out to all my friends who are directors and asked them for their favorite movies. So, I have a list of movies from David Lynch and Noah Baumbach to show my kids. Two nights ago we all watched Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, which my mom was quite brilliant in. It was a big turning point for me in my childhood and they hadn’t ever seen her at that age and acting. So it’s really lovely to share with my mom and my kids. 

"I think that’s why the theme of storytelling is so huge with us, it’s our traditions and how we all grew up and how we went to sleep at night—a story read to us or a story told to us. Laying in bed, dreaming. It's very helpful to remember what came before this and what will come after. You can be in the moment—in the laundry, in the cooking, in the crisis—but it’s nice to remember that."

Now, I feel really centered in that this is me; this is my face, this is my body. The best thing I can do is honor it, as opposed to being in judgement or frustration with it.

On how her perspective has changed with age...

"There’s a real sense of being that happens when you’re not growing into age. As a teenager, it’s all about what you’re going to be when you’re an adult. And when you’re an adult, it’s about how you want to be perceived as woman—you’re chasing identity. Now, I feel really centered in that this is me; this is my face, this is my body. The best thing I can do is honor it, as opposed to being in judgement or frustration with it.

Now that I have teenager daughter, I realize how many years I spent in judgement. It’s so unnecessary and hurtful, and when we need serenity more than ever, it’s so important to be kind to one’s self. It's so important to consider beauty as a way to take care of oneself, as opposed as a way to hide. It's really interesting, thinking about what women want right now in terms of products. It’s all self-care, which is what it should have always been. It's all about what makes you feel good and how you take care of yourself, instead of how you’re masking yourself. That's how my perspective has changed over the years, and especially during this time. I’m busy taking care of my daughter to teach her how to take care of herself."

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