Gwyneth Paltrow shares her self-care rituals

gwyenth paltrow wellness interview
Self-care rituals with… Gwyneth PaltrowGreg Williams @gregwilliamsphotography

“I think the most important thing in feeling ‘well’ is having a friendship with yourself,” Gwyneth Paltrow tells me. “Because you can do the clean eating and hyperbaric oxygen therapy – all that stuff – but if you don't like yourself and you can't rely on yourself in a deep way, I don't think any of it matters.” From becoming an Oscar-winning actress aged 26 to an advocate of all things ‘goopy’ (her lifestyle brand born when she was 36 now being so famous it’s synonymous with myriad practices pushed in the pursuit of health), Paltrow's personal wellness odyssey hasn’t been linear. “It’s something I didn't come to until I was 40 but I wish someone had told me in my 20s to find the things that you love about yourself and focus on those, and to stop saying terrible shit about yourself to yourself.”

Now 51, her advice feels practical rather than preachy. “You have to want to do it and have a curiosity around feeling better. Because if I think back to certain times in my life, I didn't really care – and now I've figured out that by implementing certain things I feel better.” For her, assessing readiness was key. “I think if people are trying to pursue wellness because they think it's the thing to do, it's different than really being ready to ask yourself what kind of life you want to lead and how you want to feel.” As with anything, “you feel results when you stick to whatever it is that you decide you want to do”. Even over Zoom, a vibrant Paltrow appears to be physical proof of that.

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Having honed the rituals that serve her, she’s now invested in bespoke practices that recognise individual differences – however nuanced they may be. “As technology advances, things are getting more personalised,” she notes. From data collected via her Apple watch or Oura ring, to “genetic testing revealing something that you might need to do that someone with a different profile doesn't” – it all feeds into her wellness philosophy. For example, “it was interesting to recently learn that I'm not a good natural detoxer”, she shares of her genetic methylation process. “It was very edifying for me, because I've been a proponent of detoxing and kind of ‘cleaning out’ the body and I always had pushback, [people saying] ‘there's no such thing as a detox; the body detoxes itself’. But in my case, I actually need a lot of support to detox.” Enter things like infrared sauna sessions and body brushing. “Wellness isn’t ‘one size fits all’; there are a lot of different treatments and modalities for a lot of different people,” she says. “And I just think it's good for people to give themselves permission to ask questions and see what's out there.”

Here, Paltrow tells me what she swears by – and why.

On her morning self-care routine…

“I wake about 6:30am and my husband and I do 20 minutes of Transcendental Meditation together. I then spend time with my son, we have coffee together before he goes off to school, and then I exercise for an hour.

“I've been a Tracy Anderson devotee for 17 years and I really love her method. I also do Pilates on heavy reformers twice a week at Studio Lagree. On the weekends, I like to take a hike and be out in nature, but I find it hard to make time for that during the week.

“I went through a period of doing intermittent fasting. I still kind of do that, having a smoothie for breakfast at about 10am, or 9am if I have a busy day. I try to rest the digestion for a bit in the morning.”

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On the small daily rituals she swears by…

“I have a breathing practice that I'll do throughout my day. Sometimes it's 'box breathing': inhale, hold, exhale. Or, if I notice my blood pressure rising, when I exhale for longer than I inhale, it calms the autonomic nervous system.

“I also like to take a lap or two around my office, which is quite large, to make sure I'm circulating my blood. We sit too much in our culture. I watched the Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones documentary on Netflix, and everybody who lives that long has healthy walks as a daily ritual. So I make sure I try to do that.

“On the Moments of Space eyes-open meditation app there's a walking mode, which is very powerful. I've been really amazed by the impact of eyes-open meditation. It didn’t take me long to get the hang of – and that might be because I have a pretty strong eyes-closed practice already – but I love that I can meditate with my eyes open and go to that same place. It’s a way to find that stillness really any time – and it's so accessible through the app.

“There's a lot of division [in the world] and people convinced that they're really right about stuff and having a hard time listening to one another. And so, for me, a meditation practice connects me with this feeling of oneness – that we're all human beings, and we're all trying our best.”

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On the bigger investments she makes in her health…

“My dad was diagnosed with cancer when he was only 54, and my mom has had some battles with cancer as well. So I am proactive in terms of having blood work looking for cancer markers, getting advanced imaging and all that kind of stuff. Once a year I try to be really good about check-ups.

“There's so much that we can know about ourselves through genetic testing. I actually need a lot of support to detox – and using a sauna is an important part of that. I have a little individual one outside, and I go in that a few times a week for about a half an hour.”

On her daily diet…

“I'm sort of paleo right now. I didn't eat meat for years and years but now I eat a little and I love fish. Being 51 years old, I’m mindful of making sure I have enough protein. I’m definitely not plant-based, although I eat a tonne of veg.

“My breakfast smoothie is usually either made with chocolate protein powder, half an avocado, banana and hemp milk; or vanilla protein powder with half a baked sweet potato, pumpkin spice and hemp milk. It tastes a bit like pumpkin pie.

“For lunch I love a chopped salad with protein. I’ll do an Italian one with Calabrian chilli peppers, anchovies, lettuce, roasted red peppers and chicken, or more of an Asian one with salmon.

“I try to have healthier dinners – so not deep-fried stuff with lots of cheese – especially during the week. And I don't drink alcohol during the week at all anymore. I also find it's true that when you eat earlier, you have digested more and your sleep is better.”

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Greg Williams @gregwilliamsphotography

On her most-used wellness accessories

“I find my Oura ring educational. For example, I can see if I had a heavy meal and wine close to bedtime whether my sleep quality was terrible – so then I know for next time. I also like that it's predictive of menstrual cycles, reads body temperature and knows when I might be getting sick. It has a stress response part, and tracks steps and exercise. I'm a big fan.

“I also love our Goop body brush. I use it every morning. It wakes me up, exfoliates and stimulates, and some people say it helps with cellulite.”

On her evening self-care routine…

“My favourite thing, which I consider self-care, is having a family dinner every night with no phones at the table. That is the best part of my day.

“I take a bath every night. I really need a hot bath with some great salts. We make one at Goop that I really love, or I just add some old fashioned Epsom salts with a little essential oil.

“I’m in bed early, usually by 8pm or 9pm. It's kind of embarrassing, but I love it.”

The Moments of Space meditation app with Gwyneth Paltrow can be downloaded here

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