Actress Sarah Paulson recently disclosed that she sees plays when she needs to unwind after a busy project. After starring in Netflix’s Bird Box, American Horror Story, and Ocean’s 8 — all in the past year — Paulson hasn’t had much down time, so when she does, she spends it doing what brings her joy. “There was a lot of output this last year in terms of what was coming from me. I wanted a little bit of intake,” she told People. “So I came to New York and I saw 10 plays in nine days, and got refueled from an artistic standpoint.”

While Paulson’s play marathons help her recharge, there are countless ways refresh your mind when you have that too-many-tabs-open feeling. Whether your ideal de-stressing ritual includes a night out with friends, a five-minute meditation, or a rom-com and a face mask — it’s all about finding what works best for you. If you’re looking for some inspo, here are some unexpected (and creative!) ways that our favorite celebrities refuel when they feel overwhelmed:

Michelle Obama: An impromptu friendship getaway

In her 2018 bestselling book, Becoming, Obama opened up about how she was able to mitigate the stress she felt during her time in the White House. According to the former First Lady, planning a weekend getaway with her girlfriends allowed her to unwind and recharge without the distractions of her busy day-to-day.  “Every few months, I invited 12 or so of my closest friends to join me for a weekend at Camp David,” Obama writes. “We were all so used to sacrificing for our kids, our spouses, and our work. I had learned through my years of trying to find balance in my life that it was okay to flip those priorities and care only for ourselves once in a while.”

Jessica Alba: Cuddles and exercise

As an actress, entrepreneur, and mother of three, you would think Jessica Alba would choose relax by taking time alone, but when she appeared on the Thrive Global Podcast, she admitted that her ideal de-stressing ritual involves taking time to stay active, and also spending quality uninterrupted time with her kids. “For my mental health, I need the sleep, and I need the exercise,” she says. “And then I also just need cuddles with my kids, and that, to me, it just fills me up. It allows me, then, when I do work, to be able to be there, and be present, and be 100 percent.”

Ryan Gosling: Knitting scarves!

“I did this scene in Lars and the Real Girl where I was in a room full of old ladies who were knitting,” Gosling told GQ Australia in 2016, “They showed me how. It was one of the most relaxing days of my life.” Gosling says learning how to knit inspired him to take on the craft as a new hobby, and it’s become a relaxing, artistic outlet for him. “If I had to design my perfect day, that would be it,” he added. “And you get something out of it at the end. You get a nice present. For someone who wants an oddly shaped, off-putting scarf.”

Nicole Kidman: Embracing JOMO

In a 2017 interview with Byrdie, Nicole Kidman confessed that saying “no” is a form of self-care for her, and she finds it refreshing to unapologetically minimize her commitments when she feels overwhelmed, reveling in JOMO (the joy of missing out.) “I love being able to say yes to people. It’s such a great thing,” she clarifies. “I’ve had to work really hard not to get myself down with [guilt]. But ultimately, my family benefits and I benefit when I go, ‘Ah, I’m so glad I didn’t say yes to going out on Saturday night.’

Bill Gates: Escaping technology

Twice a year, Microsoft Corporation founder Bill Gates spends a full week in a tech-free hideaway cottage on a cedar forest waterfront. Apart from any distractions from the outside world, Gates says he does his best thinking in the quiet nature of the retreat. In fact, he calls it his “Think Week.” The week away allows him to flush out ideas and spark creativity without the ongoing buzz of modern technology, he told Wall Street Journal. Pointing at a pile of papers he was spending the week reading, he said: “I love the vision here.” And even if you don’t have a isolated cabin to disappear to, taking a few hours to unplug might help you de-stress and think clearly, like it does for Gates.

Follow us here and subscribe here for all the latest news on how you can keep Thriving.

Stay up to date or catch-up on all our podcasts with Arianna Huffington here.


  • Rebecca Muller Feintuch

    Senior Editor and Community Manager


    Rebecca Muller Feintuch is the Senior Editor and Community Manager at Thrive. Her previous work experience includes roles in editorial and digital journalism. Rebecca is passionate about storytelling, creating meaningful connections, and prioritizing mental health and self-care. She is a graduate of New York University, where she studied Media, Culture and Communications with a minor in Creative Writing. For her undergraduate thesis, she researched the relationship between women and fitness media consumerism.