Why Nikki Reed Left Hollywood for Farm Life: 'Nature Is the Best Form of Therapy'

·3 min read
Nikki Reed instagram
Nikki Reed instagram

Nikki Reed/Leica

When Nikki Reed steps into nature, it's sense of "instant" relief — and one that she deeply appreciates after spending most of her life in Los Angeles.

The Twilight alum, 34, was raised in the busy, traffic-filled city without much access to wildlife — though she was lucky to be raised by "the most kind mother, who let me bring home any animal I could find," Reed tells PEOPLE.

"I found rats. I found raccoons. I found everything," she says.

And it looked like she would remain in urban life after she rose to fame at 15 with a costarring role in her first film, Thirteen, and went on to act in dozens of major movies, including the mega-hit Twilight series. But after marrying Vampire Diaries star Ian Somerhalder in 2015 and giving birth to their daughter Bodhi in July 2017, they decided it was time to escape to nature.

For more on Reed and the benefits of getting out in nature, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

Nikki Reed
Nikki Reed

"It was a turning point for me," she says. "I made a conscious choice to give my child the most normal life possible."

That meant moving to a farm "very far outside the city" where they raise goats, cows, dogs and horses, and grow lavender and rosemary alongside cucumbers and peppers.

"It felt like a relief, moving out of the city," Reed says. "I promise that if anybody wants a feeling of ease, of peace, of calm, the answer is nature."

At their farm, the now-4-year-old Bodhi is "learning to grow things, getting your hands dirty in the soil," Reed says.

"My greatest joy is watching my daughter run through the dirt with her shoes off," she says.

And it makes a huge impact on Reed's mental health, who now spends her days cuddling her cows, riding horses and growing tomatoes in the yard.

"Nature is the best form of therapy," she says. "And it's instant — you don't have to spend six months in nature before you feel it. Go on a hike and release endorphins. Look at a tree instead of the blue light on your phone. All of our souls need a dose of that kind of medicine."

Now busy with life on the farm, Reed has taken a step back from her acting career, but has started a nature-inspired jewelry company, BaYou with Love, and is designing a line of shoes for vegan sneaker company Løci.

"It was a very scary pivot for me to leave the only career I had ever known, that I had worked in since I was 13, to try something new," she says. "But I learned a lot about what's important to me. A lot of things that came with a Hollywood lifestyle, there isn't synergy with the priorities I now have in my life and with the people I want to surround myself with."

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Reed's priorities lie in caring for her family, their animals and reaping the all benefits of nature.

"Peace, calm, plants, animals — this is what keeps us healthy," she says.