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Few mothers can have “vampire slayer” on their resume, but Sarah Michelle Gellar otherwise runs out of lockdown life as your average parent: playing board games, breaking screen time dilemmas and shooing her two children, ages 8 and 11, outside. The actor – who married the 90s heart rider and frequent co-star Freddie Prinze Jr. in 2002 – also finds purpose in helping to cope with hunger caused by the pandemic, an initiative she says “provides food for my soul.”
Here the star opens up about her latest charity project, friendship and the lessons she passes on to her children.
What do you do when it comes to giving yourself a mental health break or relieving stress? Are you in training, journaling or meditating?
Meditating would be good, but I have two children in my house, so other than in the bathroom, I do not have time alone right now. My meditation is my sleep. I’ve trained; I think it’s very important to me. It’s also about getting out and getting fresh air. It’s so easy to just be at Zooms all day and stay in your room or read a book or whatever those things are, and I make it a point to be outside. Although it does Zooms [outdoors] – I am lucky enough to have a backyard and live in an area that has beautiful weather so I can be outside. I think it is very important; You can get very depressed when you are inside all the time.
And [it’s about] really just trying to find gratitude and gratitude. As difficult as this situation is, to understand that I am in a lucky place where I am not food-insecure, and certainly focus on what I can do to help people who are struggling worse than myself. I am one of those people who needs to be busy and needs to feel that they are helping other people.
You have entered into a partnership with Subaru in donating 100 million meals to Feeding America to help those who are food insecure during the pandemic. How does giving back help keep you in these difficult times?
Well, I think perspective is the key word in what you say. You can not for your own health and well-being, you can not deny that what each person goes through is difficult. This is the hardest thing I have ever encountered in my life, and I do not face the situations that other people face. And perspective has always been very important to me, especially on the days I feel frustrated and thinking, I am not able to cope with this.
And I think about what’s going on right now, and when you hear a statistic that 1 in 4 children have food insecurity right now and possibly do not know where they’re going to the next meal coming from, which breaks my heart on all levels. What are the things we can do as a society, as a country, to help that situation, because no child ever needs to worry about where their next meal is coming from. And to be able to get in touch with a company like Subaru that really means what they say and that makes such a difference, it lifts the mood … It gives me soul.
How has your family gone through the pandemic? Have there been any bright spots?
You have to find your own bright spots in this situation, and it goes in waves. I live in Los Angeles right now, which I think, when it comes to locking, has probably been the strictest in the country. It goes in waves where you can see people in the distance. I’m a people, so it’s hard for me not to be social and not see my friends. But we have become so creative in other ways. The other day, one of my girlfriends, it was her birthday, and we made a game of Zoom, and we sent a Google document with questions, and we made these little paddles for our friends who had to guess who the answer was. It’s just funny where full circle things come. I was the person at a baby shower or on a bachelorette party many years ago who would be like, “I do not want to play a game.” And now I’m so happy to do it, on all levels I connect with the people in my life.
There have been many bright spots. And the bright spots have time with my family. Normally we live in a very busy society, and my husband and I both work, and my children have an active social life, and they have classes, and we are always on the go. And now we’re really scaled down and enjoying dinner together every night and playing board games. Just really connect on a deeper level.
I think it’s also strengthened friendship – the people who were here for you, who checked in on you when they did not hear from you in a few days and asked: “Do you feel down? ‘” … Whether something falls into someone courtyard to cheer them up, or the fact that we have that ability [to connect]I feel very blessed.
Do you have any wellness routines that you practice as a family, or are there ways you introduce your children to concepts such as self-care and self-confidence?
Self-esteem is so difficult to be young these days. We are so bombarded by these cultured, perfect pictures on social media, and there is a constant conversation I have with my daughter. She’s at the age where she’s starting to explore different social media, and I want her to understand that it’s just a little bit of someone’s life, and it’s filtered. You can edit everything, and that’s not what reality is.
I have always been so lucky that I have managed to block so much of the negativity, because if I give credit to the negativity, I have to give just as much credit to the positivity, and I have to take it from the people around me. I have on several occasions explained to my daughter that this is the most important thing [lesson]. It is difficult because she misses the valuable time with groups of friends where you learn how to navigate in these situations.
My other wellness trick is that you have to balance screen time. It’s for everyone – it’s for me, it’s for my kids. And it’s difficult because the screen is what connects us right now, but in the end it tends to disconnect us, because we are not together. We have lost our social skills and eye contact. Whether it’s going for a walk with a friend with double masks and being outside, or driving past where I’m waving out the window, making sure I’m trying to have a connection that’s not just digital.
Is it hard to pull it off with your kids?
I’m not trying to be too hard on myself because it’s a big leap for us. Our children did not have much screen time before this, but I must also understand that there is very little they can do, and that is how they connect. The word is balance, and making sure we have large chunks of the day where all the units are put away and we are out on the trampoline, or we talk a walk, or go with the dogs, or play a board game. Just really balance it. But also not to be so hard on myself, so you know, if one of your friends wants a zoom with them, [accepting] that it’s it for them right now [in terms of social contact] and understand that it’s OK.
Are there any wellness trends you think are overrated?
I still drink my celery juice that I make myself, or I get from the farmer’s market, so I do not think it is overrated. I have not put Gorilla Glue in my hair [laughs].
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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