Here’s What Made Jessica Alba Decide Life ‘Can’t Revolve Around Career and Work’

Jessica Alba shares how the pandemic has changed her attitude about stress, burnout, and taking time off, and the daily wellness practice she refuses to miss. A The Healthy @Reader's Digest exclusive.

Jessica Alba embraced “wellness” as a concept long before the Covid-19 pandemic inspired many of us to examine our routines and carve out more space in our lives for self-care. In fact, it’s been a decade since Alba launched her clean health brand, The Honest Company, to provide families with a line of toxin-free products (which today is valued at over half a billion dollars).

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Now, Alba says she’s “super energized” this movement has caught on, and she continues to encourage fans to take care of themselves and their families in her new partnership with the sports simulation game Nintendo Switch Sports, which launched earlier this year. “It’s a way to get everyone, whether they’re buried in their phones or work mode, to get up and you guys can just play. It’s more fun to be physical.”

The 41-year-old actor, entrepreneur and mom of three just spoke with The Healthy @Reader’s Digest about why even though life’s busy, she’s officially more serious about having fun these days.

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Jessica Alba in front of a wall of Mario charactersCourtesy Zusha Goldin

Jessica Alba on mental wellness

The Healthy: Not unrelated to what you’re doing with Nintendo, we saw that you recently went on vacation in Italy—a place where they do downtime really well. For you as a mom and professional, why is taking time off important?

Jessica Alba: I think we all need that. I think in our country, we almost live to work and it’s a very backwards way of thinking about quality of life. And I think during Covid, a lot of people started to reevaluate their life choices and their work and how they wanted to spend time. I was definitely one of those people. More and more, it’s just so obvious that we should really just enjoy life. Everything can’t revolve around a career or work, you know?

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The Healthy: How has your approach to health and wellness evolved since the pandemic? 

Jessica Alba: I mean, I would say I always wanted to really commit to self care and whatnot, but now it’s really kind of like a non-starter. I have to. It’s like the baseline of me being able to function. I’m not okay if I skip my “me time.”

The Healthy: And what does “me time” look like?

Jessica Alba: In this moment? It looks like me meditating in the morning. I do guided meditations. And then when I do need to go for a walk or take a bath…you know, I can tell when I’m very agitated, like I need to go to the gym and just kind of sweat it out. Or if I need play, right? You need to giggle and you just need to have fun and be silly with your kids.

So it can sort of look like a bunch of different things. But I guess I never really gave myself that time. As an entrepreneur, I worked seven days a week—you don’t stop working and it certainly doesn’t stop once you leave the office. You know, phones and computers and the internet and people being able to reach you at any moment, [some people] really disrespected that personal time. I really eliminated it. I put the “Do Not Disturb” notification that tells people that I’m not answering the phone.  

The Healthy: Do you have a routine? 

Jessica Alba: I’m not a routine person. Just, as long as I focus on doing something, then some type of guided meditation, I guess that’s the heart of it. But other than that, I get bored. I don’t like to eat the same thing every day. I don’t like to do anything every day. I lose my interest. 

The Healthy: How about your diet? 

Jessica Alba: I’m not terribly strict. If I eat dairy or if I eat a bunch of processed food or fried foods, it gives me stomachaches. So as a kid, I always had a stomachache until I learned I didn’t need to have them anymore by changing my diet.

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The Healthy: In a recent Instagram post, you talked about the importance of stretching when you exercise. Can you share your perspective on why that is so crucial?

Jessica Alba: If you’ve ever been around anyone who’s popped an achilles—um, my husband five years ago! I mean, you have to stretch. Being flexible is the key to you not getting locked up. And when you’re sitting for too long or when you’re standing for too long or doing anything, the same thing over and over again, your body starts to get locked up.

Maybe when I was like 18, I started going to Japan and you can see people in parks, stretching, and moving and doing things like Tai Chi. They look like they have a great quality of life. You know, the elderly people are walking around and are part of society and they’re taking care of the babies. They’re mobile. I think it’s of course diet, it’s your attitude and outlook, but I also think it has to do with movement. Stretching and moving around is important. Always. No matter your age.

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Jessica Alba and The Honest Company

The Healthy: Your company, Honest, you were one of the early leaders of the clean beauty movement. We’re all shopping for cleaner products now; you helped change that industry for us. How does that make you feel and where do you think that trend is headed?

Jessica Alba: Thank you! We’re super excited. It took me about 10 years to get into this place and I’m just thrilled that hopefully we will see a whole generation of people not as sick because they’re not exposed to unnecessary chemicals. It’s not just one product with one thing, but it’s multiple assaults over and over again of certain chemicals that are in everything. And those chemicals, those repeat offenders, over time, they really just break down your body or immune system and can cause disease and illness.

So I’m hoping that once we stop using those products, we will have a generation of much healthier people and that’s the ultimate wish, right? I mean, we banned over 2,500 chemicals that we choose not to use in our formulas. I would say if you look at the standards that other [brands] have, you’re lucky if they ban a hundred. We’re going to continue to try and bring them along and push it forward.

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Leah Groth
Leah is a Philadelphia-based writer, editor, mother and product junkie. Her obsessions include old houses, home design, fashion, beauty, books and anything that makes her life — which includes working full-time and taking care of two "spirited" children and a Vizsla puppy — a little bit easier. Her work has appeared on a variety of publications and websites, including Glamour, Prevention, Business Insider, Livestrong, Mindbodygreen, Fatherly, Scary Mommy, Wonderwall and Cosmopolitan.