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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.
It's been 20 years since La La Anthony got her big break as an MTV VJ. She's since been able to parlay that success into a big piece of the entertainment pie, juggling an acting career (Power, the upcoming indie drama Gypsy Moon) and her Facebook Watch series La La Anthony: Reclaim Your Life with producing projects including the horror comedy Juju (which she's executive producing alongside Issa Rae) and a Queen Latifah-backed TV adaptation of The Love Playbook, one of her two New York Times bestselling books.
"I'm on the go, I'm on set," Anthony tells Yahoo Life of her jam-packed schedule, which currently includes filming the Showtime series The Chi. Her whirlwind lifestyle, she says, made her a natural fit for working with Kellogg’s Special K Keto-Friendly Snack Bars, her current go-to snack when she needs a guilt-free treat.
"I just wanted to find something that I felt good about eating," Anthony says of the bars, which come in peanut butter fudge and chocolate almond fudge flavors. "As a chocolate lover that satisfies me. I feel good. I don't feel guilty... They're so easy to just pack in my bag and take with me. So that's been a game changer for me as well, just for someone that's constantly on the go."
It's just one of the small ways the busy star carves out a moment for herself. Here, she opens up about relaxing with Kiyan, her nearly 14-year-old son with NBA star Carmelo Anthony, in front of the TV screen (Your Honor, Bridgerton and The Sinner are current favorites), giving herself positive affirmations and letting go of the guilt of taking "me time."
What do you do for yourself in terms of de-stressing and fighting off anxiety?
I had to learn to get better at self-care. It's definitely been about just finding time for myself, without my phone, without email, without Zoom, without everything and just really sitting in my own thoughts of what's important to me, reflecting on my life or different things like that. I think sometimes just drowning out all the background noise is so important and we don't realize what turning off our devices sometimes can really do. Even if it's just five minutes a day, it really does make a difference. And that's been a game changer for me.
Do you have any little self-care rituals that you practice during the day?
For me, it's more about positive affirmations. My days move really fast, so just kind of reminding myself, "You're blessed, you have an amazing life, you're doing so well"... Just saying kind words to myself and just having positive affirmations has really made a difference for me and is something I try to do every day.
As a parent, are there ways that you try to pass on the concept of self-care or wellness to your son to help him deal with his own stress?
It's important to talk to your child. I communicate with my son Kiyan all the time and just ask him about his feelings. This is a strange time in a strange world for our kids as well. So I just make sure I communicate with him and love on him and try to explain why the world is the way it is right now, because they have a lot of their own thoughts and confusions in the middle of all of this. Those are the things that I think are important as parents: That we check in with our kids, we communicate and we love on them because this is a tough time for all of us.
You have so much going on as an actress, a producer, a writer, a mom. Do you constantly feel the pressure to multitask? Do you have any strategies for finding a work-life balance or setting boundaries, or are you always floating between projects?
It's crazy. The schedule is always crazy, but if you don't put boundaries, you're just going to work yourself into the ground. So I definitely take that time to be with my son to go to his basketball games, to go to his school, to just be engaged in what he's doing. That's important. And that's balanced between being a mom and working, just finding whatever that happy medium is so that you're not just burnt out on work and don't have time for your personal life and the things that really matter, which are your loved ones and your family.
You've been in the business for quite a while. Has your approach to mental health changed, compared to when you were just starting out as an MTV VJ? Is there anything that you wish you had implemented back then?
I was just on the go, and just excited to be on TV and just working really hard. Now I more understand the importance of taking care of myself, not running myself into the ground and doing things that make me happy. I've accomplished a lot, so I'm able to take those moments and say, "You know, it's OK to do something fun for yourself. It's OK to take a trip. It's OK to go get a massage. It's OK to do whatever. You earned it, you shouldn't feel guilty about it." So I'm trying my hardest to get better at that.
It's hard to really indulge in self-care right now because of the pandemic. But when life goes back to normal, what's the one self-care splurge that you would love to enjoy?
I think just doing something fun with my girlfriends, whether it's going on a trip or just, you know, sitting in a hotel room and talking all night, just having that interaction all together and reconnecting. I think that would be really a fun thing to do.
What's the best advice that you've been given?
I would definitely say "love yourself from the inside out" is something my dad told me many years ago. It all starts with you loving yourself from the inside out. People don't realize how important that is. So that's something I definitely try to remind myself.
Do you have any hobbies that help you unwind?
Working out when I can — I try to get better at that. I love when I have the time to binge-watch a great show on TV and just lie in bed under the covers and watch TV, which is something I don't get to do often. Picking a movie with my son and just being in bed with him and watching it, that's fun to me. Those are the things I like to do when I have some downtime.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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