For actress Melora Hardin, beloved for her roles as Jan on The Office and Jacqueline Carlyle on The Bold Type, this year’s Fourth of July was a celebration of the hope, family and creative spirit that have kept her going over the past year. “Throughout the quarantine, my husband, two girls and I were able to get creative together,” Melora shares with FIRST. “We did art projects and came up with new recipes, which we’re looking forward to re-creating this Independence Day. It’s been uplifting to share that in the midst of everything!”
For Melora, creativity has always been a release valve for pent-up worry and her secret weapon in staying positive and healthy. “Artistic expression doesn’t just enhance my mood, it has become food for my soul when times are tough,” Melora says. Here, more ways she stays looking — and feeling — upbeat, radiant and happy.
Beats Burnout: A Soothing Pep Talk
“We all feel overwhelmed, exhausted, and anxious at times,” Melora says. “One of my favorite things to recite to myself in those moments is a poem by Mary Oliver, called Everything That Was and its words, like ‘Every day has something in it whose name is forever,’ remind me that every day, even a stressful one, is a true gift!”
Radiance Secret: Refreshing Hydration
“I love drinking bubbly water!” Melora says. “My favorites are LaCroix or San Pellegrino for a treat. It helps prevent dry skin but also makes me feel energized, especially in the summer!”
Sparks Serenity: Take a ‘Pet Pause’
“Of course, cuddling with my daughters and time with my husband are automatic stress-busters, but I also love spending time with my pets,” Melora says with a smile. “Sitting with the cat or walking the dog are really refreshing, but we recently added koi fish and goldfish to our pond and I find myself sitting there, gazing at them for hours. There’s something so relaxing about watching my fish. I really enjoy them!” Studies have shown that watching fish swim, in real time or virtually, can reduce blood pressure, boost mood and instantly dial down anxiety!
Melts a Menopot: Do a Little Dance
“Dance is my favorite exercise — it’s good for the body and the soul!” Melora enthuses. “I’ve been doing it since I was five, but these days, I rely on dance classes via Zoom to get my workout in and to connect with other people. I’m a person who needs people around me, and I relied on those classes to get that connection and combat anxiety and fear during the pandemic. I’ve also found going for a walk and being able to say hello to neighbors, even at a distance, is wildly helpful — for my body and mind.”
Instant Recharge: Seeing the Good
“As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized it’s important to stop and smell the roses as much as I can,” Melora confides. “I try to be in the moment and be grateful for everything I have, which is a balance that’s hard to strike at times, especially during moments when I’m asking myself, Why isn’t this working out? But I’ve learned that everything has a purpose, even the challenges, so on tough days, I focus on gratitude for the very basics, like having a roof over my head, a beautiful family and my health. When I do that, I instantly see I actually have a lot.”
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.