Arianna Huffington isn’t known for her mental health advice, but last week at an Urban Zen event, “The Politics of Sustainable Wellness,” put on by Donna Karan, the media mogul sounded off about what makes her happy and ultimately, keeps her in good mental and physical health. So what makes one of Forbes’ Most Influential Women in Media feel good? Sleep, mostly. And a few things she likes to call her “joy triggers,” too.
The event was third in a series of talks hosted by Dr. Frank Lipman, M.D., called “Conversations in Sustainable Health.” (We’ve posted about the first two here and here.) While past talks have focused on research and medicine, Huffington talked more about the practicalities — both political and personal — of getting Americans back to optimal health. Here’s a recap of what she said:
She’s a Sleep Nazi: Three years ago, Huffington fainted from exhaustion, hit her head on her desk, broke her cheekbone, and required five stitches in her right eye. She says this was the beginning of her “crusade against sleep deprivation,” something she takes so seriously that she has insisted on having nap rooms in the new offices at AOL. (She quipped that her mission to give employees sleep breaks is known around the company as “NAPQUEST.”) She insists that rest equals more creativity, productivity, and most importantly, more joy in her life.
She’s Not Giving Up Her Coffee: Though she admitted that Dr. Lipman probably wouldn’t approve, Huffington says a latte isn’t something she’ll give up anytime soon. Coffee, like photos of her kids “before they were old enough to become problematic,” is one of her “joy triggers.” Having small things that immediately trigger happiness is something she says is important for maintaining her physical and mental health.
She Wouldn’t Put Her Kids on Meds: Huffington said that becoming a mother and seeing the explosion of medications for children is part of what made her become actively concerned with health care. “I just don’t believe that six million kids suddenly need ADD drugs,” she said. She added that both of her daughters had eating disorders, and when one sought professional help, the doctor wanted to put antidepressants on the treatment plan. She said she knew something was really wrong when the doctor made her feel like a deficient mom because she refused to put her daughter on meds.
She Doesn’t Hold Grudges: It’s easy to imagine that she has her share of bad blood with reporters and politicians, but Huffington swears by refusing to hold a grudge. She says she “lets the dead bury the dead” so that she can wake up fresh and stay happy, and in another bit of wisdom that’s hilarious but true, she insisted: “Grudges are like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” Well said.
To hear Arianna Huffington’s comments on the politics of health for yourself, check out Urban Zen on livestream for a recording of the event.