The ‘I’ve Been Thinking’ author surrounds herself with friends like Oprah Winfrey and Hoda Kotb, and is learning to embrace happiness and self-care
Maria Shriver wishes people were more open about work-life balance and wellness when she was starting her career as a reporter.
“When I was a young journalist working 20 hours a day, no one was talking to me about stress — just that you’d better survive, or else you’re going to get fired,” Shriver told Moneyish. “No one was talking about wellness. It was like, ‘You better work seven days a week, (because) there’s not a lot of women here. You’ve got to prove yourself every single day.’ It was stressful.”
The “I’ve Been Thinking” author is used to pressure, particularly the burden that comes with living her life in the public eye as the niece of 35th President John F. Kennedy.
The estranged wife of former California governor and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger also endured a highly publicized split after the world learned of her ex-husband’s affair in 2011, when the “Terminator” admitted to fathering a child with the family’s housekeeper. Schwarzenegger and Shriver separated after 25 years of marriage that year, and officially divorced in 2017. But reconciling it all took time.
“Some people come to happiness much easier, and some people have to work at it,” Shriver said. “I have a public job, but I crave my privacy. I need time for myself to write and to pray, and so I think everybody has to find their own tempo for what works for them. You can wake up every day and decide if you’re going to look at the day with gratitude or hope. For many people it’s a choice, and for many people it’s hard, and they need support.”
The NBC News correspondent, who considers powerful women like Oprah Winfrey and Hoda Kotb among her dearest friends, says that having close confidants in your circle is crucial to growing and staying grounded.
“I like to connect in a deep way. My relationship with Oprah is over 40 years. Most of my friendships are over 35 years. They’re steeped in a knowledge that ‘Anything, anytime, give me a call and I’ll be there,’” she said. “I talk about family, about joys, about sorrows, about mistakes, triumphs — that stuff that makes up one’s life.”
The 62-year-old journalist, who has interviewed notables like Bill Gates and Patti Davis, has dedicated time to advocating for Alzheimer’s awareness ever since her father, Sargent Shriver, died from the disease in 2011. She’s spearheading the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement to support Alzheimer’s research and educate men and women on lifestyle changes that can be made at any age to boost brain function and possibly prevent the disease. She has also made it her mission to preach self-care for the mind, body and soul to women of all ages.
“There are a lot of young people today that are much more educated on wellness than I was in my 20s or 30s. No one was talking about kale and juicing and wellness like they talk about it now,” she said, adding that her millennial-aged children have taught her to diligently read through nutrition labels on snacks, to wean off sugar and to even question the ingredients in her cosmetics.
A growing body of consumers is willing to invest more in their mental, physical and emotional health over material objects. The global market for health and wellness reached a whopping $686 billion in 2016, and is slated to grow to $815 billion by 2021, according to market research firm Euromonitor International.
Shriver admits that making lifestyle changes is challenging for her. It’s a process that she must commit to one day at a time.
“It hasn’t been easy for me to try to get sleep, and get off sugar, and change the way I eat or look at my life and make changes,” she said, noting that she relishes in meditation to clear her mind and decompress. “When you have a pattern, behavioral change is hard. It’s an ongoing and everyday thing.”
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