Hilary Swank on knitting, her 'fur babies' and how being outside helps her unwind: 'Nature is everything'

Hilary Swank says being out in nature is key to her overall well-being. (Photo: Getty; Quinn Lemmers)
Hilary Swank says being out in nature is key to her overall well-being. (Photo: Getty; 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.

She's got two Oscars, but Hilary Swank is happier climbing onto an off-road vehicle than she is stepping out of a limousine. Being in nature — whether it's taking a meditative walk or embarking on a heart-pumping outdoorsy adventure — is what brings the Million-Dollar Baby star the most peace, something she attributes to growing up in the Pacific Northwest. "Thankfully it was before cell phones," she says of a childhood in which the end of every school year was celebrated by leaping into the lake.

"Nature to me is everything, and I have to have it," Swank tells Yahoo Life, adding, "If I'm ever feeling a little off, I go back to that and it reminds me of those times. And it just reconnects you back to yourself, back to your breath."

It makes sense, then, that the actress is supporting National Get Outdoors Day, which falls this year on Saturday, June 11, in partnership with Polaris and its "Betting on a Sunny Day" campaign. Herself a proud owner of the powersports brand's snowmobiles and a Ranger off-road vehicle she uses for loading up her camping gear and other outdoor exploits — "everyone wants to come and visit us," she notes — Swank is helping them encourage folks to "get outdoors and soak in nature and let it absorb any of the stuff you don't want anymore."

Nature has "been a healing force in my life," says the star, who is currently filming in Canada but otherwise calls Colorado home. Like anyone else, she gets stressed, particularly when she is struggling to find balance in her life, but counts herself lucky to live somewhere where relief is just footsteps away.

"I am so grateful to live in Colorado where I have nature at my back door," the actress adds. "I can have a really hectic day of meetings and the such and these computers and these devices always in our faces. It's great because we get a lot done and we can be really productive, but unwinding and stepping away, for me, is taking a walk. I like to just take a walk, and I like to wind through the trees or into an open field. I like to feel my feet on the ground. I like to lay on my back and look up and see the clouds float by. I like to kind of absorb the energy of the earth into my body and vice versa."

Another passion: knitting, which Swank will sometimes do while leaning against a tree.

And there's her love of animals. The animal lover — currently making headlines for helping to reunite a New York woman with her missing dog — has five rescue dogs and two horses she considers "four-legged family members." (She doesn't have cats on account of husband Philip Schneider's allergies.) Being outside with her animals has "informed a huge part of my life," she says.

"What brings me joy is being in nature and reconnecting with our true essence," she says. "And a lot of that has to do ... with my fur babies, who are always connected to that natural essence and remind us, just with their being, what's important."

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