All the Ways Brie Larson Is Practicing "Self-Improvement" In 2020
From drinking celery juice every morning to getting a good night's sleep, here's how Brie Larson is amping up her wellness routine in 2020.
January might be over, but goal-setting season is still in full swing. Even your favorite celebs and influencers are continuing to share what they want to accomplish this year–including everyone's girl crush, Brie Larson.
In a recent series of Instagram Stories, the Oscar-winning actress gave fans a peek into the healthy practices she's adding to her 2020 wellness routine. "I thought that I would share some things that I'm doing self improvement-wise—kind of like mind-body-soul because this time of year people are into that," Larson said in her video.
While the term "self-improvement" can sometimes imply the need to change parts of yourself, Larson seems to be taking more of a transformative approach. Instead of removing certain parts of her routine, she's adding several positive practices into the mix—and that's actually what self-improvement is all about, says Rachel Wright, M.A., L.M.F.T., a psychotherapist and marriage and relationship expert.
"Self-improvement can [mean] enhancing the things that you do like, or just simply being in a constant state of growth, or being open to growth," explains Wright. "It can be [about] improving and growing, all with the goal of being the best and healthiest version of yourself possible." (Related: The Ultimate 40-Day Plan to Crush Any Goal, Featuring Jen Widerstrom)
Most importantly, self-improvement isn't about perfection, notes Wright. It's about being flexible with yourself and giving yourself the time and opportunity to grow, she says. "When we strive for perfection, we're using an all-or-nothing mindset," explains the therapist. "Self-improvement has no destination; it's a constant state of learning and growing. Therefore, perfection doesn't exist because journeys are messy."
To make self-improvement more feasible, setting small attainable goals is a good place to start, says Wright—and that's exactly what Larson did. Read on to learn more about the five simple health goals Larson is adding to her daily routine, and how you can follow her lead.
Drink a Glass of Celery Juice Every Morning
There's nothing quite like a solid morning routine to help you get in the zone for the day. In Larson's case, her day begins with a glass of celery juice. She posted a photo of herself whipping up the trendy green bev using a HUROM HP Slow Juicer (Buy It, $254, amazon.com). Larson's goal in 2020: Drink the juice every morning before jumping into breakfast, she shared in her Instagram Story. "I hold my stress in my stomach and this feels very soothing/healing in my opinion," she wrote. (See: How Your Mental Health Can Affect Your Digestion)
Celery juice may be trendy, but it does have some legit potential health benefits. "Some of the antioxidant properties of celery extract have been linked to increased fertility and lowering blood glucose and serum lipid levels," Sandra Arévalo, a registered dietitian nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, previously told us. (Related: 12 Creative Celery Recipes from Famous Chefs)
Aside from its antioxidants, the vegetable's flavonoid and polyphenol content have also been linked to a reduced risk of inflammation, cancer, and diabetes, according to a 2017 review of celery studies.
Not into the celery juice trend? Try one of these other healthy green smoothie recipes that taste amazing.
Play Brain-Training Games Every Day
Next up: Larson shared that she's using Elevate, a brain-training app, to help sharpen her mind. "I'm only a few weeks in but I'm enjoying using parts of my brain I forgot about like adjective recall and average numbers," Larson wrote of the app in her Instagram Stories.
Elevate is actually one of the most popular brain-training apps out there. It claims to improve reading comprehension skills, memory, and your ability to focus via a series of quick exercises and games, according to the app's description. You're then rewarded for accuracy and speed, and you can track your progress over time to see if your mind is really improving. There's even a calendar with personalized daily "workouts" to help keep you motivated. (Related: This 4-Week Workout Plan Will Have You Feeling Strong and Fit)
While there's no harm in challenging your mind this way, there actually isn't a lot of evidence to support the benefits of brain-training apps like Elevate. For starters, there's "considerable debate" about whether these apps actually improve cognition so that it extends into your everyday life, or simply make you better at brain-training exercises, according to a health letter shared by the Mayo Clinic.
That said, the Mayo Clinic's health letter also mentions a study that found a possible link between the use of brain-training apps and improved memory and thinking speed. But the results were based on participants who used the app for an hour a day, five days a week for eight to 10 weeks straight, according to the letter—not an impossible regimen to follow, but also not the most feasible for the average person, right? To that end, the potential positive effects associated with these apps can quickly fade away once you stop using the app, according to the Mayo Clinic's letter. (Related: How Technology Messes With Your Memory)
With that in mind, if you're really looking to give your mind and memory a boost, you might be better off picking up a new hobby or learning a new language, according to the Mayo Clinic's letter. (An added bonus: Hobbies reduce stress just as well as exercise.)
Focus On Workout Recovery
ICYDK, Larson is an absolute beast in the gym. She's casually dabbled in upside-down indoor rock climbing, pull-ups with vertical grips, and the woman can hip thrust 275 pounds like it's nothing. This year, Larson wants to focus on her recovery, she shared in her Instagram Stories.
The actress posted a photo of herself holding a Joovv Go Portable Red Light Therapy Device (Buy It, $295, joovv.com), calling it her go-to solution for sore muscles. "This thingie is expensive but it works like a dream," she wrote. "I use it on achy muscles and it melts the soreness/tension so quick, it's like magic, I swear."
Light therapy has the potential to ease pain and help treat certain symptoms of depression. Red light therapy, in particular, has been associated with workout recovery. (Related: The Benefits of Red, Green, and Blue Light Therapy)
In fact, just one to five minutes of exposure to red and infrared light right before exercise can boost strength and prevent soreness, Ernesto Leal-Junior, Ph.D., head of the Laboratory of Phototherapy in Sports and Exercise at Nove de Julho University in Brazil, previously shared with us. "Certain wavelengths of red and infrared light—660 to 905 nanometers—reach skeletal muscle tissue, stimulating the mitochondria to produce more ATP, a substance that cells use as fuel," he explained. (Here are some other need-to-know deets about red light therapy before you try it.)
If red light therapy doesn't exactly fit into your budget, here's the best workout recovery method for your schedule.
Eat an Apple a Day
Circling back to her diet, Larson shared a photo of a fully eaten apple to her Instagram Stories, writing that she's "exploring the concept of 'an apple a day.'" Surely you've heard the saying ad nauseam, but it's actually not without merit. Apples are a great source of fiber, and they contain lots of antioxidants and phytonutrients (chemicals commonly found in plants that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties), Jessica Cording, M.S., R.D., C.D.N., previously told us.
They're also a great snack to munch on if you're trying to practice portion control, added Cording. "Because they take a while to eat and provide a good amount of fiber (about 4 grams in a medium), it's hard to eat more than one apple in a sitting," she explained. "There's also that mental pause of finishing the entire piece and checking in with yourself about whether to reach for another." (Related: These 11 Energizing Snacks Will Push You Through Your Afternoon Slump)
That being said, while apples do provide carbs, they're not a great source of protein or fat, noted Cording. "You'll get the most staying power when you consume them in the context of a meal or snack that also covers another macro base," she said. "That's why apples + peanut butter is so awesome."
Get a Better Night's Sleep
Sleep is a crucial part of any good wellness routine—something Larson clearly recognizes. "Sleep is super important to me," she wrote in her Instagram Stories.
In her post, she's seen holding a Manta Sleep Blackout Eye Mask (Buy It, $30, amazon.com), sharing that it "works wonders" to block light and help her catch a good snooze. Larson not only uses the mask at home, but she also makes a point to travel with it, she wrote. (Related: All the Products You Need for Better Sleep, According to a Sleep Snob)
If you’re trying to get some shut-eye in the middle of the day or while traveling, sleep masks can really come in handy. As we’ve shared before, the number one thing sleep masks are touted for is blocking light. Basically, it works like this: If there's a lot of light flooding in wherever you're trying to sleep, then your circadian rhythm or "body clock" thinks it's time to be awake. That suppresses a myriad of chemicals in the body, including melatonin, a hormone that plays a role in your natural sleep-wake cycle, according to the Mayo Clinic.
In fact, a 2011 study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that exposure to light may suppress the onset of melatonin production by as much as 90 minutes. That’s a big chunk of time to not be sleeping. (Related: The Sleep and Exercise Connection That Can Change Your Life and Your Workouts)
In addition to using a sleep mask, Larson said she relies on a white noise machine to help improve her shut-eye. In her Instagram Stories, she's seen holding up a Marpac Dohm Classic White Noise Machine (Buy it, $44, amazon.com).
If you're wondering whether a white noise machine is worth investing in, consider what kind of sleeper you are, suggests Steven Holfinger, M.D., a sleep medicine expert at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. In other words, there are people who can sleep through anything, while others jolt right up at the sound of the smallest creak. If you fall into the latter camp, a white noise machine might be a helpful tool for you, says Dr. Holfinger. "Using white noise is a way to drown out sounds to make the environment more boring to your mind," he explains.
But there are other, potentially more effective ways to guarantee a good night's rest besides sleep masks and white noise machines, adds Dr. Holfinger. (Related: How to Eat for Better Sleep)
One alternative that doesn't cost a dime: mindfulness. "If you are busy thinking or worrying about things at bedtime, it is harder for you to fall asleep," explains Dr. Holfinger. Mindful practices like meditation, deep breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation can all help to promote a good night of sleep, he says. (Here's a beginner's guide to meditation to help you get started.)