3 Secrets To Having A Healthy Work-Life Balance From Renée Zellweger
In 2006 Renée Zellweger started to disappear. She'd had quite the start to her career (one of her first major roles saw her uttering one of the best known quotes in cinema: "You had me at hello"). She became synonymous with the fictional Bridget Jones for her role as the quirky London lady and took the lead role in Chicago.
But after winning her first Oscar in 2004 for her role in Cold Mountain, Zellweger started to fade. She had a few scattered roles before an unannounced step back from the spotlight in 2010. She wouldn't appear in another project until 2016, and even in that year, she only starred in a few films (including rehashing her role as Bridget Jones).
This past fall she stepped truly back into the spotlight with her role in the Judy Garland biopic, Judy, which then earned her an Oscar for best actress. She sat down with New York magazine to talk about her break from Hollywood, and her honest dialogue of the struggles of fame and the importance of self-love can teach us all a lot about how we can live life as our most genuine selves.
Here are three of our favorite lessons we can learn from Zellweger as she steps back into the spotlight:
1. We need to prioritize ourselves.
As she'd just stepped back into the spotlight, many of the questions turned to Zellweger lately have been about why she stepped back at all. "I wasn't healthy. I wasn't taking care of myself," she told New York magazine. "I was the last thing on my list of priorities."
One of the things that can make setting limits so hard is when you're being presented with opportunities you really want: "You probably need to stop right now, but this creative opportunity is so exciting and it's once-in-a-lifetime and you will regret not doing it," she shared. "But actually, no, you should collect yourself and, you know…rest."
Even those of us who aren't Hollywood stars are familiar with the feeling of panic that comes when we realize we've overcommitted, often to the detriment of our own well-being. Being sure that we're mindful about how we use our time, and learning to say no, are tough but important lessons for us all to learn.
2. It's OK (and actually, good) to set boundaries.
Work-life balance is one of those things we all talk about, but no one seems to achieve—except maybe Zellweger. When talking about the buzz and bright lights of Hollywood, she said, "I don't live in that. That's my job. I visit it." Learning to set healthy boundaries (and setting the hard-and-fast one when she took a step back) helps her live genuinely.
The first step to setting those boundaries for Zellweger? Finding a way (and place) to stay grounded. "When you're not grounded, how can you have boundaries?" she said. "I had lots of different places to live but no home." While some people are able to flit between projects and homes seamlessly, Zellweger realized she needed that space, and time, to be by herself.
3. There's nothing better than being true to yourself.
When speaking about her life before her hiatus, Zellweger explained that there wasn't much truth to her life in the spotlight. "I spent 99% of my life as the public persona," she said, "and just a microscopic crumb of a fraction in my real life."
Now, she's much happier and has embraced all the things that make her unique. "I like my weird quirkiness, my off-kilter mix of things," she said. "It enables me to do what I do. I don't want to be something else. I got hired in my blue jeans and cowboy boots with my messy hair. I started working like that. I didn't have to change to work."
While a years-long career hiatus isn't a one size-fits-all solution to burnout, we can all learn from how Zellweger took the steps necessary to take better care of herself. And now that she can, we look forward to seeing her continue to shine as her truest self.
Eliza Sullivan is an SEO Editor at mindbodygreen, where she writes about food, recipes, and nutrition—among other things. She received a B.S. in journalism and B.A. in english literature with honors from Boston University, and she has previously written for Boston Magazine, TheTaste.ie, and SUITCASE magazine.