Sophia Bush on how she got back on track after she had 'eviscerated any practices of self-care'

It was during the first season of filming her CBS series Good Sam that actress Sophia Bush realized she had “eviscerated any practices of self-care.” Though Good Sam — which marks Bush’s first time as executive producer — is “full of incredible humans” who strive for a “standard of excellence,” the show’s long days left little room in her schedule to have any "me time."

“I started to look at ways, since I couldn't change my schedule, to allow for myself to do more self-care — how could I bring self-care in?” Bush recalls for Yahoo Life. “I called one of my best friends who is an incredible pilates teacher and she signed me up to her portal and I started taking her 20-minute videos and saying, you know, if I can do 10 to 20 minutes of movement, even three days a week, it’ll change how I feel in my body. I won't have back pain. I'll be breathing more deeply … and it worked.”

Bush, who portrayed cheerleader-turned-fashion designer Brooke Davis on the CW’s One Tree Hill for nine seasons, says that for her, taking care of her mental and physical wellness was all about fitting in better habits on her “stressed days.” That includes drinking enough water, or spending less time reading the “brutal and devastating” messages from trolls on social media. That, she explains, made a “huge difference.”

Yet even with these habits in place, Bush — who has long been an advocate for body acceptance — says that she’s not always the picture of confidence. While it’s not always easy to shake off bad feelings, Bush says she keeps in mind that there are “a lot of industries at play and a lot of money at stake in the world that all run on our feelings of being ‘less than.’”

“To remember that that is something that has been orchestrated for profit, I think can be really helpful when we wonder why we feel that way or when we're down on ourselves or when we're being self critical,” she notes. “Someone else's corporate scheme is not my responsibility to carry.”

One place where Bush does want to see people take responsibility is in their sustainability efforts. The star is currently working with One Tree Planted, which is encouraging people to donate $2 in order to plant two trees, and its current partner, non-dairy milk brand Planet Oat.

“Environmental advocacy has always been important to me, from starting beach cleanup clubs in elementary school to being a camp counselor and experiencing the Sierra National Forest first myself as a camper,” she explains. “I think that nature makes us better as humans and coming into Earth Month [and Earth Day], there's always a desire to do more.”

She's already made one small swap: Replacing dairy milk with plant-based milk, which she felt was better for both her physical health and that of the planet.

"I don't do well with dairy, which is devastating for an Italian person who loves cheese, but here we are," she jokes. "It's one of the easiest things that I could do for my own health that is also better for the planet, because it's more sustainable."

Since Planet Oat "makes a lovely frothy coffee," Bush says she's "not sad" to make that swap in the morning. But indulging in the plant milk isn't just about the taste.

"Hearing that this year [Planet Oat was] planning on doing an entire Earth Month activation with One Tree Planted to work on reforestation efforts was something I wanted to know more about," she says of her interest in the company. "And I got to go out and work on sapling planting at the watershed park, near my parents' house, where my mom takes her dogs to hike every day. It's personal to me, knowing that we can inspire people all around the country to work on tree planting initiatives in their communities."

Planet Oat may have corporate power, and Bush may have her large following on social media and beyond, but she stresses that everyone, regardless of perceived reach, can make a difference when it comes to the planet.

“I always want to remind people that each of us has a platform, whether it's five people, 500 people or 5 million people,” she notes. “You will be the most important advocate for the close circle of people who know you best. And so, if you can talk about changes you're making in your life, if you can showcase by example that a couple of substitutions that are better for the planet have been easy for you to incorporate, you will inspire people to [make those changes], too.”

—Video produced by Stacy Jackman.

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