Actress, activist, author, and mom to four, Holly Robinson Peete, 56, opens up about the keys to staying calm, energized and vibrant — no matter how hectic life gets.
As the light of early morning filters into her Los Angeles bedroom, Holly Robinson Peete has one thing in mind: starting her day with some peace. “For two years now, I’ve done a daily meditation on the Calm app before I get out of bed,” the former co-host of The Talk shares with FIRST. “Each day has a theme, so I’ll just lie there and listen. With all the stress and negativity in the world right now, it helps me set my intentions and kick off my day in a peaceful way.”
That joyful start keeps Holly balanced as she juggles being a busy wife, mom, and the star of Hallmark Channel’s Morning Show Mysteries and their beloved holiday movies. But the role that’s closest to her heart is being the co-founder of the HollyRod Foundation, which focuses on research and awareness for Parkinson’s disease and autism. “This has been my passion for 20 years, and it’s going well, but we still have a lot of work to do,” Holly admits. “I use my challenges as stepping-stones to success and never give up!”
Here, Holly’s best stress-busting strategies.
Cures Cravings: Healthy Treats
“Aside from my signature healthy dinner of salmon, asparagus, and a big green salad, I’ve discovered a whole bunch of healthy treats that my family and I love!” Holly describes. “Vegan Rob’s brand has really delicious Brussels sprout, beet, and cauliflower puffs (Buy on Amazon, $29.36 for 12 pack). My favorite is their Dragon Puffs (Buy on Amazon, $23.99 for 12 pack) — they’re spicy, crunchy, and good for you!”
Her healthy sweet-snack hack? “Popsicles made out of fresh fruit and frozen grapes!” she says with a smile. “They’re so delicious and make you feel like you’re having a treat without the guilt!”
Radiance Secret: A Soothing Eye Patch
“I’m obsessed with under-eye patches!” Holly says. “My favorite are Gold & Snail Hydrogel Eye Patches by Petitfée (Buy on Amazon, $9.60). If my eyes are puffy or I’m feeling tired, I put them on, and in 30 minutes, I look awake and glowing!”
Key to Calm: Small Moments of Peace
“When it comes to soothing stress, I think little things matter most,” Holly confides. “Tea is my new best friend! I prefer ones with lemongrass or ginger, and I’ll drink three or four cups a day. Between that and my morning meditation, it helps me stay focused, makes me a better mom and keeps me even all day.”
If stress starts to sneak in, Holly will add in deep breathing or, if possible, a quick nap. “When I can make a midday nap happen, my day goes so much better! And at night, my husband and I listen to the Calm app’s rain sounds an hour before bed. These little things add up to peace that lasts.”
Melts a Menopot: Exercising Like This
“I used to do all different kinds of exercise, but since my joints aren’t what they used to be, I’m loving slow walking!” Holly says. “I’ll go for a mile walk on my treadmill or an hour-long hike outside if I can.”
How does she stay motivated as she walks? “Music or audio books!” Holly says. “I love classics, like Love in the Time of Cholera (Buy on Amazon, $10.87) or One Hundred Years of Solitude (Buy on Amazon, $13.99). They’re so soothing. But I also love music — anything from jazz to R&B and the music I grew up on in the ’70s. It’s a bit of nostalgia that keeps me motivated and moving!”
Uplifts & Inspires: Daily Gratitude
“There are so many things I’m grateful for — my family, friends and my dogs!” Holly says. “I love to write about them in the gratitude journal my best friend made for me. She created it with different sections for family, philanthropy and four other zones…there’s even one for my dad, who passed away from Parkinson’s disease years ago. I still miss him, so I’ll go to that section and write things I was grateful for in having him as my dad. The journal’s front page has a wonderful quote: Count your rainbows, not your thunderstorms. I just love that — it inspires me to write.”
Holly’s Heartfelt Mission of Love
Twenty years ago, Holly and her husband, Rodney, founded the HollyRod Foundation to honor her father’s struggle with Parkinson’s disease and their son Rodney Jr.’s experience with autism. And since then, their mission to boost awareness and to support research for people touched by both has grown year on year.
“I want to shine a light on the realities of Parkinson’s,” Holly says. “My dad had it in the 1980s and 1990s, when there wasn’t a lot of information, but now my brother has it and it’s so different. He was diagnosed five years ago, but has more resources, and he’s doing great. That’s our goal: to help continue to improve the quality of life of people with Parkinson’s.”
Holly and Rodney are also striving to find new ways to support people affected by autism. “I want to help everyone understand that autism is a disorder, not a disease, so we’re focused on finding jobs for young adults of autism,” she says. “RJ Jr. works for the Los Angeles Dodgers right now, and we have placed hundreds of other young people in jobs too — it’s so gratifying!” For more information, visit HollyRod.org.
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A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.