Drew Barrymore on Falling in love with his talk show and nurturing his health and happiness
It’s been two years since Drew Barrymore joined the ranks of talk show hosts with The Drew Barrymore Show. Now in its third season (premiering Sept. 12), 47-year-old Barrymore has new prospects. “The first year of every talk show is such a soul searching to figure out who you are,” she says. This year, she will challenge herself to relax into the concert with even more confidence.
The former child star (has been delighting fans for 40 years as Gertie in Steven Spielberg’s film HEY.), made a name for herself in Hollywood, started a production company, introduced various product lines (including Flower Beauty, her cruelty-free makeup line), and ran her own magazine. But the talk show — with its emotional moments, daytime TV antics and ever-smiling host — is her baby, she says. “It’s that thing that comes into your life where you’re like, ‘I just never want to be without you.’ I’m so in love with this show.
She credits her interactions with fans on Instagram for grooming her to chat with celebrity guests and entertain an in-studio audience. “Speaking for myself, assuming nobody, and being myself, not a character, ended up being good practice for me,” she says. Her optimism on social media tends to go viral, such as a recent video showing her joy at being caught in the rain. Barrymore prides herself on being authentic and is tickled by how others interpret this. “I was looking The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last night and [he showed] my rain video and he’s like, ‘What a lovely adorable psychotic break.’ At first when he said “Drew Barrymore”, I was like, “Oh my god, I love Colbert”. He says my name! And then he says, ‘lovely psychotic break.’ I was like, ‘Oh OK,’ she said, laughing.
While you won’t see the busy mother of two (Olive, 9, and Frankie, 8) take part in a ‘What I eat in a day’ type interview: “I won’t make people feel like I’m the pillar of balance” – she has a few tricks up her sleeve, like prioritizing therapy, meditation and her own happiness. We caught up with Barrymore to discuss how quitting alcohol has changed her life, how she broke free from the scales and how she avoids burnout.
Related: Katherine Heigl Speaks Candidly About Hollywood’s Mental Health Toll
Did you find it difficult to break into the world of daytime talk shows?
I got a lot of notes at the start of my show, like, “You’re too much. Tone it down. You’re too spastic. There were a lot of negative comments, and it was really hard to hear. But all we have is our individuality. And if we pretend to be anything other than what we are, we are lost. So a moment that might have been ripe for an identity crisis was actually a conscious choice not to hate me, but to trust me. Then, as producer, I pivoted to massage the show into something a little calmer.
Do you ever experience professional or personal burnout?
I am very prone to burn out and then keep going. It’s my favorite state. I have been working since I was 11 months old. I never stopped. And I don’t know how to get off the horse. I think it’s a positive movement (talking about burnout) as a society, especially when athletes talk about it, because we think of them as these superheroes and kings and queens of endurance and idolatry. And when they say it, I think it’s less controversial and more humane. I’m still learning that because I’m terrible at it. I’m like, “Oh, burnout is a normal state to live in.” And I’ve felt that all my life. I still kept going, but burning the candle at both ends is a completely irrational state of being and I’m starting to question that now. Did I get it? Surely not. But just being aware of it and tending to the garden once in a while is a helpful step. Don’t trust me when it comes to health, wellness, balance and all that – I’m just as confused and torn as everyone else! But maybe there’s permission to say, “I can’t understand everything but I can understand some things.
Related: Maria Shriver’s tips for boosting the brain and why she’s hopeful for Alzheimer’s research
What are some ways you have recently focused on your health and wellness?
I started drinking 100 ounces of water a day, and my doctor called me and said, “Your sodium level is too low. What are you doing different? I told him that I drank a lot of water! He told me to stop drinking so much and that he would test me again. I did, and it came back to a normal amount. So the only thing I thought I was doing right was hurting myself. I realize that I am a total extremist. I don’t fully understand the balance. But when it comes to the mental game, the spiritual game, the work on myself game, I’d be an athlete if we compared it.
How do you work on your mental well-being?
I’m doing consistent therapy with a brilliant man named Barry Michels, who leads the horse to water, and you have full disclosures. There’s a tremendous amount of structure to the work, which helps me make sense of it in a much more cohesive way. I can identify, “Oh, that’s what it is. Oh, I have to do this. I wish I could apply the level of commitment I have to my mental well-being to my physical well-being.
I also do a little meditation. I have a closet that I’ve converted into my spiritual epicenter, where I do my sessions with Barry. I write everything and the walls are covered with this great and incredible wisdom. And I can look around and read the words of the hard work I do. I know the space is there if and when I need it.
(scroll down to continue reading)
Related: Why Ozark’s Laura Linney Won’t Complain About Aging
How would you describe your health routine?
Horrible-[it’s mostly] inconsistent workouts, takeaways, intermittent fasting so no intermittent fasting diet is designed, working out all day, forgetting to eat, shoving a sandwich in your mouth, just not on the ball. One day – one day! – I hope I’ll get better.
What is your view of your own physical health?
I posted a picture of a scale and a note that read, “Say something nice to you.” This moment changed my life. It was a quintessential Oprah aha moment for me. It is not a number. It’s about how you feel. This certainly does not take away from the importance of taking care of yourself. It still takes a lot of discipline. But when you’re ready to listen and make changes, that’s when the magic begins. If I am completely off my game one day, tomorrow is another chance.
How do you keep your feet on the ground at home?
I like to clean. It really makes me happy to take care of my home and my space, whether it’s making the room less chaotic, cleaning the dishes, or making things clean and nice. I am not anal retentive; it doesn’t always have to be perfect. But I know that if I’m feeling upset, I can start organizing, cleaning, and investing in the space in my home. And that usually starts to help.
I remind myself that when I’m really bullied, just start, whether it’s about my mental well-being, my business at work, or cleaning up the kitchen. Start simple, don’t get stuck. Make the list, do the first thing on the list, and do whatever it takes not to sit around and wallow in your bullshit.
Related: Padma Lakshmi Talks Eating Well on Set, Healthy Holiday Tips and Overcoming Endometriosis
With so much on your plate, do you ever take a second to recharge your batteries?
I like to unwind and rejuvenate myself by doing nothing. I felt really guilty about it, and out of a session with Barry came the word ‘permission’. I wrote it down and put it on my wall. Now the moment I choose to recharge my batteries doesn’t become a session of self-loathing and flogging. Why did I spend so many years thinking what a loser Where You could do more Where It’s so lazy? Why do I blame myself for not doing anything? Maybe I’m just a type of person who likes to be alone and watch TV, and what’s wrong with that?
You talked about quitting alcohol and its impact on your health. How did this decision become a force of positivity in your life?
I’m not working on a program, but I completely cut out alcohol and it’s been three years. I think being hard on myself stemmed a lot from the alcohol. It was something that I spent my life trying to conquer and exploit, as if one day I could achieve it. And I finally realized that I couldn’t. And when I couldn’t break the cycles, especially that one, I didn’t have faith in myself that I was capable of defeating demons and slaying dragons. And [stopping alcohol] has given me so much more confidence, hope and faith in myself that I can make changes and can identify the things that aren’t working for me.
Do you have mocktails or drinks to take away when staying?
I love mocktails. I always ask for a super spicy non-alcoholic citrus margarita and lots of Tajin and Himalayan sea salt. I have a full bar at my house. I like to serve people. I think that’s what scared me into trying sobriety – I would have to be into this very intense practice and my whole life would need an overhaul. But my best friend Nan taught me the best quote: “Insecurity is strong, confidence is calm.” And I finally gained confidence.