Empire star Grace Byers wants every child to believe in themselves. When she was young, she was bullied for being different. The daughter of deaf parents, kids ostracized her. But, she found strength in self-love. “I try to replace negative thinking with a positive and life-giving affirmation,” Byers tells Thrive.
Now, she is sharing her experiences and the lessons she’s learned in her children’s book series. “My goal with I Am Enough was to help show children who they are,” says Byers. “With I Believe I Can, I want them to know that they have limitless potential.”
Byers talks to Thrive about how her faith helps keep her focused, ways she relieves stress, and the fun way she practices mindfulness.
Thrive Global: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed? Do you have a time-saving trick for the morning?
Grace Byers: I give thanks for another day, then I guzzle 10-12 ounces of water. I turn on the hot pot for my morning tea, light my intention candle and delve into devotion and meditation (while wrapped in a cozy blanket). I set my alarm 30 mins before I’m supposed to head out for the day so I can stay on task.
TG: What gives you energy?
GB: As much as I don’t like it, working out. With my new project, I haven’t had a chance to exercise in weeks and I can absolutely tell the difference in my energy.
TG: What’s your secret life hack?
GB: Prayer. And a warm slice of chocolate cake.
TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?
GB: I’m working on it. I could be on it way less than I am. I use it as my alarm and keep it next to my bed. But, the ringer and message notifications are always off. This brings a sense of balance.
TG: How do you deal with email?
GB: I try to respond in the moment. But if I can’t, I leave the unread marker on so that I can revisit when I have more time.
TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why?
GB: It was when I worked all week for 15-hour consecutive days, one of my best friends visited for the weekend and then, I traveled coast-to-coast to promote my new children’s book (I Believe I Can). Although I was happy, everything began to compound, and I felt depleted. My body broke down. So, when I was done, I shut everything down, ate well, hydrated, added supplements and got LOTS of sleep.
TG: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it?
GB: Although I can be really hard on myself sometimes, I question the validity of term failure. Every time I’ve fallen short, I lean on God. Whatever I can’t do, I leave to Him. Everything else, I learn and apply. To me, there is no failure. There are only revelations and lessons.
TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.
GB: “Be anxious for nothing, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
TG: How do you prioritize when you have an overwhelming amount to do?
GB: I remind myself: “How do you eat an (figurative) elephant? One bite at a time.” The time-sensitive, immediate things take priority and everything else takes a backseat until I’m able to handle. My focus: one completed task at a time.
TG: What advice would you give your younger self about reducing stress?
GB: Worrying solves nothing. If something is out of your control, release it entirely. People’s opinions of you; release them entirely. Act only on what you have control over. Move in love. Start there.
TG: Do you have any role models for living a thriving life?
GB: Michelle Obama.
TG: With so many distractions and interruptions coming at us throughout the day, what are your tips to stay focused?
GB: Don’t be afraid to filter or eliminate constant distractions, your phone, news or people. Give yourself permission to turn off your ringer, social media or TV from time to time. We only have so much mental space and emotional bandwidth to get by each day, we have to be precious with it.
TG: When you notice you’re getting too stressed, what do you do to course-correct?
GB: Stop. Take a break. Isolate. Breathe. Re-focus through meditation or prayer. Try again.
TG: What’s a surprising way you practice mindfulness?
GB: Dancing. There’s something about movement that brings awareness to the present, my body and breath, like no other.
TG: How do you reframe negative thinking?
GB: Identify it, pause and course correct. I try to replace negative thinking with a positive and life-giving affirmation. I put that on repeat.
TG: What brings you optimism?
GB: My home; the Cayman Islands. I’m an island girl through and through. Gimme some sweet guineps, fried plantains, clear blue waters, sandy white beaches and the warm sun – and I’m on level 100000% of optimism.
TG: Tell us about a small change you have made in your life to improve the way you connect with others.
GB: I check in often with those that are close to me. It’s not enough to just label someone ‘friend’. Once every few weeks, it’s important for me to say, “Hi love. Thinking of you. How are you?” 9 times /10, I always catch someone dealing with something that they were planning to face alone. To help others feel less alone in this world is one of life’s greatest gifts.
TG: What was the biggest turning point in your life?
GB: When I was walking across the street and got hit by a car in NYC, 8 years ago. Life is precious.
TG: What’s your evening routine that helps you unwind and go to sleep?
GB: Watching reruns of the Simpsons with my husband. We both softly chuckle as we doze off each night.