D'Arcy Carden: 'Some of my biggest life lessons have come from the lowest points in my life'

D'Arcy Carden talks Pilates, procrastinating and planning vacations. (Photo; Getty; designed by Quinn Lemmers)
D'Arcy Carden talks Pilates, procrastinating and planning vacations. (Photo; Getty; designed by Quinn Lemmers)

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.

For actress/comedian D’Arcy Carden (The Good Place), the best part of post-pandemic life isn’t just the new projects on her horizon (like the League of Their Own remake she’s starring in) — it’s seeing friends and family again and getting to travel. The little things in life mean a lot to Carden, who’s currently working in partnership with Golden Road Brewing to fulfill vacation wishes for travelers in light of all the cancelled trips in 2020. Her new parody tourism campaign to “Mango County” encourages people to find and visit their utopia state-of-mind after a hard year, whether by taking a much-needed vacation or simply spending a day outdoors with friends.

We caught up with Carden from her home in Los Angeles about the Pilates oasis she created there, plus post-pandemic travels, the power of taking deep breaths and how she finds her own relaxed state of mind.

Now that we’re collectively getting back to normal (whatever that may mean to you), what’re you most excited for? Seeing family?

Yes! [I was recently] in Palm Springs with my family and we had a real unmasked weekend. We hung out, we went in the pool — it was so wonderful. That’s what I want to do every weekend for the entire summer: just see friends and family and take little day trips and make up for lost time.

How do you kick back and relax if a “real” vacation isn't on tap?

Here's the thing: I don't have a pool in my backyard but I absolutely have a kiddie pool in my backyard [laughs]. It's just about making the best out of whatever situation you’re in… and doing the thing you’ve been missing out on so much over the past year — like getting dinner with friends!

These days, what’s bringing you joy?

Having dinner outdoors! Every little thing like that truly feels euphoric. Having dinner in an outdoor area with friends can bring tears to your eyes!

Did you create any new self-care rituals during quarantine?

Fitness at home became a big thing, and I created a little Pilates oasis for myself [at home]. Now that the world is open, I’ve taken what I enjoyed about that time, which was taking time for myself and trying to make my brain and body feel good at a time when just about nothing felt good. So, yeah, I have my little Pilates oasis corner in my house.

On Broad City you played a spin instructor and we just witnessed a big Peloton boom. Are there any wellness trends that you’re over or think are overrated?

If it makes you feel better, who am I to judge it? Someone could roll their eyes at my Sunday ritual of wearing a sheet mask and taking a bath — and that’s fine!

What stresses you out?

I am a huge procrastinator, so I am usually stressed out by my own doing. Waiting too long to get to a project or getting something done for work at the last possible minute. It's something I'm constantly trying to improve, and occasionally I will find little tricks to help me with this — but I always fall back into my procrastinate-y ways.

What’s your mantra for life?

Kelly Clarkson said it best: "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." And I know this is a little dark for a life mantra, but it's really the idea that there is so much to learn from the hard times or the bad times. Some of my biggest life lessons have come from the lowest points in my life.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

I had a big scary audition when I was about 20, and my dad told me to take three deep belly breaths right before I walked into the room. It's something that has really stuck with me. It's not just the physical act of taking three deep breaths — it's about slowing things down, taking my time, preparing myself, making something happen on my timeline and not someone else's. It's a small, quiet physical act that helps me with confidence and having agency in my own life.

What do you look to for wellness inspiration?

There is no way to [approach wellness] other than listening to your brain and body. I find that doing things with friends is helpful and this past year, there were workarounds: My sisters and I did Zoom Pilates! [laughs] I try to just do what feels good [for my brain and body] and for me, community is so important. That's one of the things I was missing out on and I had to find new ways to find it. Health and wellness tends to be wrapped up in the pressure of what other people are doing, but it’s really about finding what makes you feel better. To me, it's about community — friendship, laughing, being with loved ones or your dogs.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

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