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Body + Mind

Hollywood-Backed Wellness Techniques That Actually Work

Think Hollywood’s obsession with ‘woo-woo wellness’ isn’t really for you? There are a few cynics in the CF office too.

What might surprise you though is how many of the techniques actually have a good grounding in solid science (although definitely not all – the jury is still firmly out on Gwyneth Paltrow’s ‘sexual pleasure’ Yoni Egg).

Whether you are feeling on the edge of burnout, intrigued by ways to better manage your stress levels, or simply want to improve your overall wellbeing, these are the scientifically-backed and easy-to-implicate wellness practices that Hollywood loves – and they aren’t just for stars.


Of all the Hollywood-backed wellness practices, celebrities talk most about the transformative power of meditation. That includes the singer Beyoncé and plenty of Silicon Valley tech executives. However, if you are quick to dismiss the concept because you think it involves finding time to sit and do ‘nothing’ – the science is actually on their side. Meditation is one of the best-studied wellness practices with over 200 randomised controlled trials (the crème-de-la-crème of studies, if you will) demonstrating its ability to help manage anxiety, chronic pain, and even depression. Apps such as Headspace and Calm are making it easier to try meditation, and include short sessions where you don’t only have to try (and probably fail) to clear your mind.

CF Tip: Feel way too busy or restless to devote the time to trying meditation? Devote just five minutes on your next commute or even the next time you shower, while you wait for your conditioner to soak in. A habit starts with a small initial action after all.


It’s the single most important thing keeping us alive but when was the last time you thought about your breathing? Yes, it’s a subconscious action, but breathwork experts suggest most of us are doing it ‘wrong’, with our shallow, short intakes of breath keeping us in a heightened state of anxiety without even knowing it. Breathwork is a practice designed to help reset your breathing by giving you space to recognise and correct it in rhythmic patterns. Its popularity has skyrocketed in recent years: celebrities such as supermodel Gisele Bündchen are vocal advocates, and it is increasingly supported by studies into its (at least) short-term effects on controlling stress, helping with sleep, and decreasing feelings of overwhelm.

CF Tip: Nervous before a big meeting? Breathwork techniques can help control your breathing during times of acute stress too. Try inhaling through pursed lips for as long as is comfortable. Hold it for a second, and then very slowly and silently exhale through your nose.


Whether it’s jotting down your thoughts on the day that’s just gone, or a way to channel your motivations and goals for the week ahead, journalling has some impressive brain-boosting health benefits. No wonder, then, that it’s the preferred wellness practice of many writers and performers, including actress Emma Watson, and co-founder of the Huffington Post, Ariana Huffington. In particular, writing in a journal is said to help calm your amygdala, the part of your brain most closely associated with emotions and motivation. This in turn helps you organise and better understand your thoughts in a way that’s now been linked to better sleep, memory, and overall happiness. And, you don’t even have to commit to doing it every day – just regularly enough that it becomes a habit.

CF Tip: You don’t need to buy special stationery to successfully start journalling, but it can be an impressive motivator to have a journal that guides you through the process, especially if you haven’t tried it before. Companies such as The Happiness Planner and Papier have some of the prettiest designs. 


While most of us wouldn’t consider seeking the help of a therapist as necessarily ‘woo-woo’, it is often seen as something mainly done by celebrities who love talking about their feelings (and themselves). This means it’s currently only really reserved for ‘serious’ counselling situations for everyone else. However, that perspective is starting to shift, and the science supports it. In fact, research consistently demonstrates that ‘talking therapy’ (aka speaking with an expert), and practices such as cognitive behavioural therapy that help you change unhealthy thought patterns can be as good as – if not even better – than meditation. That’s especially true for common issues such as stress and anxiety, as well as more serious mental health concerns like anorexia and PTSD.

CF Tip: There’s now a brilliant array of digital services that allow you to speak to a therapist virtually without needing a GP referral, such as BetterHelp. Having a short, introductory session can help you see the benefits without the fear of stepping ‘into a clinic’. Don’t be afraid to shop around for the right expert either – you want to find someone you can connect with.

Sound healing

Catherine, the Princess of Wales; Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex; and Charlize Theron are all said to love sound baths – a traditional wellness practice that involves using specific sound-wave frequencies (mainly created using different sized bowls, gongs, and chimes) to relax the body. But, if the concept of ‘good vibrations’ feels way too hippie for your liking, you might be surprised that it’s not just hard-core wellness aficionados who swear by sound healing as a concept. The basic biology of our bodies demonstrates an undeniable link between sound and our emotional state. We probably all have music we know can either relax or revive us in no time; after all our ears contain nerves connected to our parasympathetic nervous system, which is the system that helps calm us down. With scientific research into the process growing, music is even being used to help those with chronic pain manage the condition.

CF Tip: Many spas and yoga studios now offer sound therapy as not only a separate bookable session but as part of existing treatments or classes, so you can try the concept while also benefitting from an experience you already love. Discover more about sound healing in our Tweak of the Week review of Remedi London.

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