Priyanka Chopra Jonas on mental health and why her confidence 'has nothing to do with my body'

·6 min read
Priyanka Chopra Jonas on mental health, body image and making the most of her downtime. (Photo: Getty; designed by Quinn Lemmers)
Priyanka Chopra Jonas on mental health, body image and making the most of her downtime. (Photo: Getty; designed by Quinn Lemmers)

The Unwind is Yahoo Life’s well-being series in which experts, influencers and celebrities share their approaches to wellness and mental health, from self-care rituals to setting healthy boundaries to the mantras that keep them afloat.

Priyanka Chopra Jonas has had some impressive titles over her varied career — Miss World 2000, UNICEF global ambassador, actress, singer, producer, memoirist, activist — but her latest one will come in particularly handy this summer. As creative adviser for BON V!V, the self-described "berry girl" is ushering in the zero-sugar spiked seltzer's latest flavor, raspberry dragonfruit.

"I'm someone who cares about what I'm drinking," she tells Yahoo Life. "And when you have those weekend brunches, the rosé catches up... [BON V!V is] super-light and has amazing flavors."

She considers it a "modern woman drink" that's "representative of the woman of today — feeling body-positive, feeling good about yourself, wanting to take charge of your own agency. And I just love that messaging."

Here, Chopra Jonas opens up about body image, the importance of family time and workouts with husband Nick Jonas and why she's speaking out about the COVID-19 crisis in her birth country of India.

You've spoken about body image and the scrutiny you've received over the years. How do you tune that out?

Well, I won't lie that I don't get affected by it. My body has changed as I've gotten older, just as everyone's body does, and I've had to adapt mentally as well with like, OK, this is what it looks like now, this is what I look like now, it's alright, and catering to my now body and not my 10- or 20-years-ago body.

I think that that's very crucial and I feel like that really takes finding a sense of confidence in what you bring to the table outside of what you look like. I always think about, how am I contributing? What is my purpose? Am I doing good with the tasks that I've been given for the day? I try to be myopic about feeling good about other things, even on days that I don't feel the best about my body, and I work toward whatever makes me happy at that time.

I just try to remind myself that I am loved and I feel good from the inside. I feel confident when I walk into a room and I try to remind myself that that has nothing to do with my body. Even though this culture gives credence to that, too much, maybe.

Do you have any practices you follow for prioritizing your mental health?

One thing which I do try to do is, after my day of work, I like to have time with my family; I always prioritize that. It makes my heart feel lighter. It makes me feel like your days are worth something when you come back home to a house full of people or whoever is with you at that point... that really helps me. Especially during this pandemic, it was really helpful to stay in touch with my friends and family, wherever in the world they are.

Besides that, I try to take time when I work out to myself. I definitely make sure that that's when I listen to the music that I want to listen to, it's my time. Nick and I work out together too sometimes, but we both do it in our own individual bubbles [laughs] — it's really funny. But that really gives me a sense of centering.

And most importantly, I always every week — especially right now because I'm filming an action show — try to take a bath. Bathtub, bubbles, music... just sitting with my thoughts every weekend with a facial mask. Finding time for yourself is basically the broader answer, making sure you prioritize yourself and [don't] just keep running when you're feeling caught up in the heaviness of the time we're in right now.

You have so many projects going on, between your activism, acting, producing and so on. Do you have to set boundaries to establish some sort of work-life balance? Or do you feel like you're always having to multitask?

Multitasking is a big part of it, for sure; you can't do so many things without being able to do multiple things in a day. But what I think has helped me is I chart out work hours for myself every day. So when my schedule is being made, I make sure that [I have a] hard out — like, I'm not going to do anything after this because I need time to recuperate to be able to give the next day my best. So, multitasking is great, and having big dreams and big ambitions is something that I love and encourage, but within that, you have to find time for your sanity. In that 24 hours, you have to be like, alright, I'm working 10 hours, 12 hours, 14 hours, whatever, and then stick to that.

The actress and self-described
The actress and self-described "berry girl" is helping BON V!V Spiked Seltzer launch its new raspberry dragonfruit flavor. (Photo: Courtesy of Bon V!V/ Anheuser-Busch)

What brings you joy?

Happy people... Giving joy, seeing joy, receiving joy makes me very happy.

And conversely, what stresses you out? You've been vocal about the COVID-19 crisis in India.

It stresses me out when the world is hurting the way it is right now, just like I'm sure it stresses everyone out. I feel grateful for being healthy, for my family to be healthy, for us to be able to socially distance — a lot of the world doesn't have that privilege.

Right now it is a very stressful time in general, but I think I'm usually very good with dealing with stress. Even if you think your stress is small, or it's too big, talking to someone has always been helpful. Friends, family, therapist, whatever your choice is, but getting it out instead of keeping it inside, [where] it just builds. I feel any form of stress just becomes larger if keep it in your mind and you're alone with it in the shadows. As soon as you say it out loud or it comes out, somehow the power of it is reduced. So that's how I deal with stress. But hurt feelings stress me out. Failure stresses me out. Not feeling my optimum when I'm trying to deliver something stresses me out.

Do you have a mantra or motto for your life?

This is the greatest question ever asked, but what is the purpose of life? And I really feel the purpose of life is a pursuit of happiness, of joy and making sure every single day you do the best you can to be your most joyous. Within whatever circumstances or environment you have, to try and find the things that give you joy. And to me, I feel very fulfilled when I've had a good day at work, when I've been able to contribute to the arts through my job, when I've been a good family member. I feel like that's really the purpose for me.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

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