Sophia Bush has become a pro at juggling a hectic schedule. She landed her first big role as a junior in college, and never looked back. It goes without saying that the “Chicago P.D.” star, now 34, doesn't get much "me time." But she refuses to let the demands of her work get in the way of her sanity. Instead, she's on a mission to bust the stigma on self-care, and change its connotation from "selfish." We caught up with the actress at a Listerine event, where she was promoting the brand's new campaign about boldness (a quality Bush embraces). Here, she shares her strategies for maintaining balance, no matter what kind of stress she's dealing with on the job.
Carve out alone time
"Relaxation is tough because everything is always going 100 miles an hour, especially in a job like mine, when you're on a set for 16 hours a day and there are 150 people around you all of the time. What I've learned through trial and error over the years is that you can really create big change with small moments, and you have to start injecting those moments into your life with little incremental changes.
"So with me, knowing that I get pretty drained being on set, I have started changing what that habit looks like. I come into work earlier, I give myself an extra half an hour in the morning. I go through hair and makeup. I have breakfast and then I'm done while everyone else is still getting ready and doing their thing. So I have half an hour to myself and I'll sit in my trailer, do a meditation app, stretch (especially if I have a big scene of stunts coming up).
"I love the people that I work with, but I don't have to have lunch with them every day, 10 months of the year. I now hang out with everyone for eight hours on set. But at lunchtime, those 20 minutes are mine to sit by myself and that's where I practice self-care. Maybe I do 25 sit-ups, or maybe I just lay on the floor with my dog and it's so good."
Meditate in the morning
"Meditation wakes you up. Someone asked me, 'Don't you meditate before you go to bed?' If I meditated before I went to bed, I'd never sleep. For me, to meditate in the morning before things get going on set, that sets the tone of my whole day, and I notice that I don't feel as happy or as calm when I don't. Taking time for you actually has a ripple effect in how your entire day goes and how you are with others. I get more stressed when I'm not meditating, so it's not only a way to practice self-care, it's also a way to be a better performer at work."
Give yourself a break
"I'm nowhere near perfect. I don't meditate every day. But, I do what I can, when I can. Creating that habit has also created the bigger change in just accepting what I can do at that time. One day I'll eat really healthy and go for a walk and think, 'I earned all the wellness points.' But then the next day, I'll eat a bunch of Thai food, sleep in, and not answer any emails, but so what? We're only human."
Repeat this mantra
"My best friend Nia said something to me years ago: She just said, 'Whatever it is, let it be enough,' and I think about that all the time: Let it be enough. And I find that when I take moments of pause, those are the thoughts that I can come back to."
"You're allowed to be proud of your intellect. You're allowed to set goals. You're allowed to ask questions when you don't know the answers. All of those things require boldness and giving yourself permission. And I think sometimes having that philosophical moment of saying 'I'm going to let this be enough' or 'I'm going to take a risk' — that all requires boldness. Both care and mindfulness encourage us to own our power and be bold."
Find your happy song
One of my best friends is an artist called Betty Who, and her albums are the best. Her new record, The Valley, just came out and literally I listen to "Mama Say" on repeat. I listen to it all day, every day. Sometimes in the morning I won't meditate and just put on Betty Who and have a dance party of one in my trailer, and it puts me in a great mood for the rest of the day.
As part of its #UnlockYourBold campaign, Listerine teamed up with the app Inscape to create three guided meditations meant to inspire and invigorate. Download the free app to listen.
This article originally appeared on Health.com.