A version of this story appeared on the Strategist US.
If you’re like us, you’ve probably wondered what famous people add to their carts. Not the JAR brooch and Louis XV chair, but the stain remover pen and the tongue cleaner. We asked actress and activist Freida Pinto — who is currently partnered with Clarks and an ambassador for Girl Rising — about the books, oils, and yoga straps she can’t live without.
In 2007, I was diagnosed with endometriosis. I was put on the birth-control pill to restore fertility and whatnot. But it’s a hard condition and I felt like I was never really given the full picture, which I think happens a lot, especially when you’re just given these quick-fix “band-aids” for larger problems. For me, it was time to get off the birth-control pill, which wreaked havoc on my skin, hair, and moods for a couple of months. I’m a big research person. That’s one of my favorite things. If I weren’t an actress, I feel like I would do really well in investigational research. So during my research phase, I wanted to try everything natural for my body. I wanted to get to know my body again in my own way. And Alisa Vitti was very crucial in that journey.
I feel like with gynecology especially, it’s been a very male-driven field. How does someone who has never had a period in their life empathize fully? This is not me going against male gynecologists, but this is me really saying, if you’ve never had a period in your life, how do you know what it is? When I read this book, I felt like, oh holy hell, things I haven’t been told! I think one of the most brilliant things I read in this book is about the various phases of your menstruation cycle. It’s no longer, “Oh, I’m PMSing.” I don’t even use that term anymore. I just say, “I’m in the luteal phase.” And if someone doesn’t know what I’m talking about, I tell them to buy this book. Every woman should know.
I started using oils during childhood. My parents are from the south of India, so I grew up using things like coconut oil. That was very common. These essential oils are something that I came to in 2011 when I was shooting Girl Rising. They can really change your mood. I’m also not a coffee drinker, so one of my favorite tricks is when I’m jet lagged and have to go to an event or have a shoot right away, I rub peppermint oil on my belly and around my back, shoulders and neck. I just tap a little bit of peppermint oil in each place and it wakes my body up instantly. I swear it’s better than a caffeine rush. I learned this from my naturopath. I was like, this is fantastic. Now, peppermint oil always travels in my kit with me.
I read a lot of self-help books, but I wouldn’t really describe them like that. I call them self-educating books. I’m not looking for how to make a million dollars or how to win a guy. The books where I can actually educate myself are my favorite, especially now that I’m older; I turned 35 this year. My yoga teacher gave this to me when I was 28 and I was like, ugh, boring. And I didn’t read it. What a mistake. When I turned 30, I picked it up. I was in a place in my life when I felt like I needed something like this book to talk to me on a more personal level, and it was a game changer. This was a very educational book on how the mind works, obviously in the slightly more spiritual way of explaining it. I think, being a woman, no one tells you that at 30, your hormones are changing and your mind is changing. I started feeling different at 28, and by 30, it was like, Whoa, this is a real change. Any woman in her 30s will agree that something happens. Something clicks. Something changes. I started feeling more comfortable. I started weeding all the bullshit out of my life. I no longer was interested in dealing with it.
This was actually introduced to me by my reflexologist and I’ve been using it for about a year. For me, it just takes the edge off. It calms my nerves and helps me not be in fight or flight mode the whole time. We’re constantly behaving like we have a tiger chasing us and we don’t. The CBD oil is just a little reminder that everything is okay. I used to eat a lot of CBD chocolates, particularly from this brand Baceae. I have no idea how you pronounce their name properly, but their chocolates were the best. I’m not the kind of person who can eat just one piece of chocolate. But with the CBD chocolates, you also have to be careful, you just can’t be popping them like regular candy. So I just went back to the oils. I started using it for sleep too. It gives me a very restful, deep sleep. The kind where I can sleep for a full eight hours uninterrupted and wake up feeling good. However, you can’t use CBD oil and at the same time be on Instagram and Twitter. It’s not magic. I have a rule where I only get on Instagram when I have something to say. I don’t even do it on my phone. I do it on my assistant’s phone. I don’t have the app anymore. I also don’t charge my phone in the room that I’m sleeping either. It’s always in another room. I take a lot of steps to make the CBD oil work.
I’ve used this for a while. There’s two oils for my skin that I love. One is an oil only available in India. There’s a wonderful apricot-kernel oil from this brand called Pahadi Local in India. I put that on and then I use this facial recovery oil after that. I change things around for the seasons, so now that it is getting a little colder, I’m a lot more dry. This Eminence oil is amazing. I’m constantly getting makeup done, taking makeup off, and rubbing my skin to do so. The facial recovery oil is great for rebalancing my skin and keeping it clear and hydrated.
There’s so much you can do with yoga straps, and that’s one of the reasons that I always travel them. You can often ignore the body when you’re running around trying to get a million things done in the day, but all it takes is ten minutes. It’s such an easy fix to do one or two times during the day. Two times is the ideal. Three times is amazing if I can get it in. Then the rest of the day I’m so active on my feet, so that’s my cardio. I typically just do shoulder openers, hip openers, and hamstring stretches. I’ve been practicing yoga for many, many years. I do yoga with teachers one-on-one too. It keeps me balanced. I try to always be present and mindful. All of that can only be done when you make that commitment to yourself. It’s not like one day you’ll wake up and suddenly be enlightened when you’ve only been doing these mindful practices for 15 minutes the day before. It’s a lifelong practice. You just stick with it. That’s what life is, anyway. Till your dying day you’re just learning. I’ll definitely be doing yoga until I’m on my deathbed. Well, I hope for something less morbid. When I’m old, I’ll be in Palm Beach stretching. That sounds better.
I meditate every morning. Some days, I get so excited about meditating that it will go on for 30 minutes. And other times I can’t even do ten minutes without getting distracted. Every day is different. I accept myself and honor whatever I bring to the table every day. I specifically love Headspace because it’s designed in such a way that you can do courses. I love structure in life. Right now, I’m on the third part of a managing anxiety course on Headspace. It provides you with tools that you can use throughout the day, like small breathing exercises in case you’re feeling stressed after a meeting or whatever.
Meditation means different things to everyone. It doesn’t just mean sitting and closing your eyes and clearing your mind. You just need to take the time for yourself. I’ve noticed a huge difference in my life since I started meditating. It sets the tone for the rest of the day. If I have not meditated in the morning, I do find I have a scattered thought process and behavior and lack of focus. But as I meditate, it gives my mind that extra boost I need when it’s already crowded with a million things.
I’ve had such a love for Clarks for a long time that when we came together for this partnership, I already had an organic story to share. I have a size ten-and-a-half foot, but growing up in India it was very difficult to find my size when all the shoes were made for smaller feet. My feet weren’t represented at all, so when Clarks came to India in the early 2000s, it was a game-changer for me. I finally had a shoe size where I didn’t have to cram my feet into a shoe two sizes too small. And they were stylish and cool. The Desert boot became my favorite shoe. Plus, I feel like I can walk a million miles in them. The more you wear them and break them in, the better they get.
But then I thought, okay, if they want me to raise their platform, I want their platform to raise something else, which was Girl Rising. This organization means so much to me and I did not get any pushback from Clarks when I said I’ll only partner with you if you help me with this. And they did it, which just made this partnership even better. Clarks is all about comfort and what Girl Rising is also doing is creating a safe space for girls to be comfortable in their skin. We want these young girls to tell us what they really dream of so not only will they sort of reach for the stars and live their dream, but we can give them the tools they need to do so, like education.
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