Keep calm and write on. For singer Jewel, putting her emotions on paper — first in a journal as a child and later for songs — has been key to maintaining a balanced mindset.
“I started practicing mindfulness when I didn’t even know what the word was,” the Grammy-nominated vocalist exclusively told Us Weekly on Tuesday, August 21. “When I was about nine years old, my parents got divorced. My dad became an alcoholic which was trauma-triggering all the time, so I began to write and my anxiety calmed down.”
The songwriter, 44, who has been vocal about the hurdles she’s had to overcome in life — including being homeless at age 18 — says she realized early on that she had to learn healthy coping mechanisms to lessen her anxiety and turn her life around.
“I knew that if I didn’t learn a new emotional language, I would be a statistic. I would repeat the cycle that I was raised by,” she reveals to Us. “So my life’s mission began to be, ‘How do I rewire my brain? How do I learn to be happy? Is it a learnable skill if I wasn’t taught it in my home?’”
One quote in particular really resonated with the “Foolish Games” songstress: “I began to really double down on a quote by Buddha: ‘Happiness doesn’t depend on who you are or what you have. It depends on what you think,’” she shares. “So I started deciding to see if I could turn my life around one thought at a time and I began developing these exercises for myself that calmed down my panic attacks, solved my anxiety and really started to rewire my brain. We curate what we eat, which is good. We curate what we wear and what we participate in buying, but we really don’t think about curating our thoughts and how that affects our health.”
To share her “mindfulness skills” with others, the “Picking Up The Pieces” singer created Never Broken, a free online resource that offers exercises that can help calm the mind and reset negative thoughts. “They’re scientifically proven — a neuroscientist came and showed me why these exercises I invented when I was homeless work, which was amazing,” she says.
Besides writing down her feelings, Jewel says one super easy trick that you can do anywhere that takes only seconds is to execute is being grateful.
“If you’re negative or if you’re anxious just stop, take a deep breath, think of something you’re genuinely grateful for,” she tells Us. “It sounds too easy to be true, but I was the most anxious when I was on a street corner with nothing and scared to death. I would force myself to be grateful for something — just taking a moment to genuinely feel grateful that I was at least still alive … and it was a sunny day and the sun was so beautiful on the leaves of a tree,” she shares. “It would instantly put me in what is called an expansive state and that can change all of the biochemicals in your brain.”
Learn about more wellness techniques at Kroger’s The Wellness Your Way festival, co-founded by Jewel, which will run from October 4 to 7 at the Duke Energy Convention Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.
With reporting by Marc Lupo
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