Julia Michaels tries to be 'intuitive' when it comes to wellness: 'I just ask: What do I need right now?'

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Singer-songwriter Julia Michaels says cooking helps her chill out. (Photo: Getty; designed by Quinn Lemmers)
Singer-songwriter Julia Michaels says cooking helps her chill out. (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.

You may not know Julia Michaels by sight, but you’ve likely heard one of her songs. (She's written "Sorry" for Justin Bieber and "Lose You to Love Me" by Selena Gomez, in addition to tunes recorded by Dua Lipa, Ed Sheeran and Lady Gaga). These days, the singer-songwriter covering the 1963 Doris Troy hit “Just One Look” as part of Campbell’s upcoming SoundCloud contest, where aspiring musicians will be encouraged to submit their own cooking-inspired tune for a chance to earn a spot on Campbell's music collection.

“As someone who is newer to cooking, Campbell’s has become the starting point for me to create simple and delicious recipes that fit my hectic schedule and build my confidence in the kitchen,” Michaels tells Yahoo Life. “I can’t wait to see how fans find inspiration from this playlist and the meals they’ll cook up as a result.”

We caught up with Michaels from her Los Angeles home to discuss how cooking has also been nourishing her soul lately. 

What’s your approach to mental health?

During the pandemic, I got really into cooking. [I've been] just finding things that make me feel really happy, and the thing that made me feel really happy was baking and starting to get into cooking. It’s helped me a lot — just doing things I love.

Do you have any self-care rituals to help you reset? What do you do when you’re on tour and can't cook to chill out?

We get crafty! We figure it out [on the tour bus].

What brings you joy?

Lots of things! Drives bring me joy, music brings me joy, friendships, family, cooking, baking — all those things bring me joy.

Who do you look to for wellness advice or inspiration?

I don’t — I try to be very intuitive. I just ask: What do I need right now? That’s the kind of wellness I’m into: self-care, knowing my body and knowing what I need.

What kind of tools do you use to mitigate stress and anxiety?

Just doing things I love — and I think routine and structure are really good for me. That’s why I like baking and cooking so much — and food, for me, is comforting. Last night, I was really tired and my boyfriend made me a grilled cheese with tomato soup. It was my favorite food as a kid and it’s the thing I’ve mastered. Even on tour, that’s the [dish] I made the most.

Do you like touring?

I like parts of it — yeah!

You’ve toured with big acts like Pink, Maroon 5 and Keith Urban. Who would you love to go on tour with? Do you have any dream collabs on the road?

I’m all about nostalgia. I’ve toured with so many wonderful people. I’d love to tour with Niall Horan again or with Shawn Mendes again — we always had a good time. Maybe in the future, [my boyfriend] JP Saxe and I will do a fun co-headline tour of some kind. I can’t promise anything, but that’s a fun dream for the future [laughs].

Sounds promising! What kind of music do you gravitate towards?

I listen to all kinds of [music]: I really like ‘50s and ‘60s music; I love '90s alt singer-songwriters. I’m a simple girl: I like an honest lyric and a simple bed for it to lay on.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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