How I Thrive//

Ashley Tisdale’s Essentials for a Thriving Life

The singer-songwriter and actress shares how she keeps anxiety at bay and the simple ways she prioritizes her to-do list.

Ashley Tisdale has been a role model for young girls since she played Maddie Fitzpatrick in the Disney Channel series “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” and, later, Sharpay Evans in the mega popular“High School Musical” trilogy. Those fans can see a lot more of Tisdale with all her current projects, including starring roles in CBS’s hit drama “Carol’s Second Act” as well as the new Netflix series “Merry Happy Whatever.” On top of that, in May 2019, she released her third studio album, Symptoms.

Tisdale sat down with Thrive to talk about how she prioritizes her very busy schedule, the microsteps she uses to calm her anxiety, and how she will be spending her holidays this year. As Sharpay Evans would say, “I need a little fabulous, is that so wrong?!” And we think Ashley Tisdale is certainly a little fabulous. 

Thrive Global: What’s your morning routine?

Ashley Tisdale: I like to make coffee in the morning, and it’s a specific kind of coffee. I grind up the beans, and while coffee is being made, I actually do a meditation. I meditate every single morning.

TG: How do you incorporate movement into your day? 

AT:  When I’m busy, it’s hard to motivate myself to work out, but I do have to say it really does help with my stress. When I was younger I was not very motivated to do stuff like that; I just hated working out. But then as I got older, I realized it really helps with my mental health. I love the feeling after you’re done — and that makes me go back and do it again. I am happier. I feel like I really did something for myself. I love hiking — breathing in the natural air helps me a lot. I also get a clear perspective when I’m hiking, and I’ve also written a lot of lyrics for songs when I hike. So I tend to get really creative in that space. I think working out is just something that saves me all the time from just not getting too stressed.

TG: What are the microsteps you use for a healthier life? 

AT: I really enjoy being alone. I’m often surrounded by a lot of people and I’m a pretty independent person. So, if I want to go get a massage, I go get a massage, and don’t feel guilty about it. If I want to hang out by myself, I’ll hang out and watch “Real Housewives” by myself. I just really like to have that time where I have my own little space and it helps me to be centered. 

TG: How do you prioritize when you have an overwhelming amount to do?

AT: It’s knowing your priorities, and being present in the moment. I really like to be present and not worry too much about stuff that’s happening in the future. Also, it’s important to just know your priorities. No matter what, my husband is always going to be a priority of mine, and I’m one for him. That’s ultimately what matters.

TG: What motivates you to achieve your goals?

AT:  I have always been very driven. Even as a child, I’d get very inspired by things. I like to manifest things, and I feel like I’m really good at it. So, it’s really about having a positive attitude, and knowing that if you really want to do something, just go for it.

Go step by step. If you think it’s too far out of reach, then you might not get it. But if you are more positive and you believe that you have it, build your plan and go for it. 

TG: What do you do for self-care? 

AT:  I take moments for myself. On Sundays I like to do facials, and take a bath, and if I’m feeling overwhelmed during the day or during a work week, I will take a moment to do a meditation.  I also just read a lot of books. There’s a really great book called Your Power to Heal. It’s really helped me when I’m stressed.

TG: You have spoken about how you and your husband prioritize each other. How do you divide the workload so one person isn’t taking everything on? 

AT:  We don’t have kids, so it’s a little bit easier. I’m very good at a lot of things and Chris is really good at a lot of things. He works long hours because he’s a composer. I don’t really look at tasks as being like, “you do this, I do this.” We both contribute. We are very in sync with each other. He can tell when I need help with something, and then he knows that I’m there if he needs something. So it’s just all about communication. I think communication is the biggest thing in any relationship. We both have heavy work schedules. So we don’t put any expectations on each other.

TG: What are your holiday traditions?

AT: We bake cookies that are recipes for my great-grandma, and we also go to midnight mass. We also do Candy Cane Lane, which is something in LA, where you just drive around, have hot chocolate, and you get to see all these crazy, insane, lit-up houses. 

TG:  What causes you stress, and how do you cope with that stress?

AT: I would say my anxiety causes me stress. I have a healthy balance of stress at all times. My husband is so good at being in the moment, and taking moments in. I used to just kind of rush through and be like, “Why, why, why are we taking this moment in? This is so weird.” And now I’m like, “Ah, it’s okay, you can enjoy this moment, and let it sink in.”

I also do a lot of meditation for anxiety, because I think that really helps you breathe. When you’re experiencing anxiety you tend to kind of stop breathing in a way. A lot of the symptoms that scared me in the past — I thought there was something was wrong with me, health-wise. So, now I am able to realize and say, “okay, that’s a symptom of anxiety.” I recognize it and move on. I think a lot of people try not to acknowledge it and try to push it down being like, “Oh my gosh, here it comes again.” They’re scared of it. I’m not scared of it anymore.

TG: How do you sleep?

AT:  I get eight hours of sleep. I am someone who, if I have a call time in the morning, I will go to bed at 10 o’clock. So I actually get really good sleep. I do have a whole little routine — I always wash my face, brush my teeth, I have a humidifier. I have a whole routine. My husband is like, “Okay, so get ready for bed, because it’s going to take 30 minutes.”

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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