From Mental Health Tools to Always Wearing Sunscreen, Jewel Has the Best Advice
Say hello to Unfiltered, a fresh beauty series where you’ll get an exclusive glimpse into the dressed-down beauty routines of our favorite celebrities and content creators. They’ll reveal their guilty-pleasure beauty practices, the five-minute-routine product lineup they can’t live without, the one good-skin tip they’ll be forever thankful for, and so much more. To bring every conversation full circle, we ask each celebrity to send us a selection of self-shot, filter-free photos of their choosing to capture the essence of their Unfiltered beauty philosophy.
Up next, we’re hanging out with Jewel, musician and co-founder of Innerworld. The “Who Will Save Your Soul” singer has been dedicating her time to advocating for wider access to mental health tools. She’s also focused on sustainability in fashion—she is currently partnering with Navajo-owned brand 4Kinship for a closet sale and will donate a portion of the proceeds to the Diné Skate Garden on the Navajo reservation in New Mexico. In 2022, she released her first album in seven years, Freewheelin’ Woman. Below, we chat about why access to mental health tools is so important to her, her beauty and wellness philosophies, and some of her favorite tour looks.
Can you tell me a little bit about Innerworld?
Innerworld is a mental health platform that’s virtual. It’s as easy as using Zoom, but it’s interactive. You sign up, and it’s a free platform. You come in, and you are in a private room, and you can see a bulletin board. We have over 100 classes a week, and each class pivots around a single topic, like living with anxiety, social anxiety, living with depression, all kinds of things. And then you can go into a group setting where there’s a live community 24 hours a day, seven days a week with a live guide. You can just get to know people and hang out in a community setting. You can go up to a guide and ask them questions.
Let’s say your dog recently passed away, and you say, “I’m really sad. I don’t know where else to turn to.” And the guide might say, “Have you ever learned about the grief cycle?” And they can pop up a visual of the very famous CBT and DBT tool called the grief cycle. And then you could go take a class, for instance, on how you use this tool. We’re focused on behavioral tools. So if you go to a meeting for social anxiety or agoraphobia (when you just don’t leave your house), there’s a tool that we use, and the guides give [it] to people during this session. It’s called Solve It Ahead. You might say, “What is my goal? To go to the grocery store. What’s the worst-case scenario? What’s my biggest fear?” You write that down. What would I do if this actually happened? You make a real plan, then you say, “What’s my best-case scenario?” Then you make a plan. Not that you get to control the outcome, but you can maybe influence it where the best thing might happen. Then you write down what is the most likely thing and think about that. And then you begin to practice that tool.
We had one woman who hadn’t left her home in four years, and she decided to go to the grocery store. She had a plan, and part of her plan was using Innerworld on her phone live while she went grocery shopping because all of her friends came in to support her and were there. And she went to a concert of 5000 people within four months of being on our platform. So this is very real help. It’s very focused on best-in-class, scientifically proven behavioral tools. We are a clinical research platform. It is a very safe platform. There are no trolls. There is no bullying. And we’re very focused on behavioral skill sets to make sure everybody has access to them. Right now, as you probably know, we have a tremendous mental health need that has outpaced our ability to serve it in traditional therapy settings, one-on-one therapy, [and] even one-on-one Zoom therapy. There just aren’t enough therapists right now. So this is a way of doing it in a group setting that is skill focused.
What are you most proud of accomplishing with Innerworld?
I’ve been looking at the bottleneck that we’re in, in our mental health crisis. We’ve done a great job as a society through a great group effort of raising awareness around mental health and getting people to talk about it. But we haven’t done a good job innovating in the field to meet the need. We have more and more people willing to say, “I need help” or “My daughter needs help.” But you can’t get an appointment with a therapist. We’re currently 500,000 therapists short in the U.S.
That’s so crazy.
And if everybody who needed help got it, we think there’d be a five-million-therapists deficit. So we have a problem, right? We have a huge bottleneck. What I aimed to do with Innerworld was realizing the tools are scalable. We have to make these tools accessible, not just in a one-on-one environment and setting. We have to make these tools accessible to everybody, and putting those into a virtual setting allows us to create a massive scale that’s still very high touch. There can only ever be 30 people in any meeting. The great thing about virtual, though, is we can have 100 meetings happening simultaneously with only 30 people in them, all led by a guide that’s trained in this. We’re not training PhDs or a therapist, by the way. We’re training peers to lead groups, and it’s all given with a lot of oversight and a lot of training.
That’s really great. It feels like a very smart solution for the therapist deficit that we’re in. What does mental health mean to you personally?
Mental health is having the right feeling at the right time or the appropriate feeling at the appropriate time.
I like that.
I do think there’s a little bit of a danger right now in wellness culture selling or giving us the idea that we should be happy all the time. Happiness is a side effect of choices, and we want to create an environment that causes happiness as a general result, that’s cultivating the soil for good things to grow so that your overall experience is positive. But again, mental health is having the appropriate feeling at the appropriate time. … If something is betraying, you should feel angry, and then you should figure out the right course of action to take. I think a lot of the problem, for me, personally… I call it emotional dyslexia. Something betraying would happen, and I would talk myself out of anger and get myself to forgive them. Instead of acknowledging that I was angry, that hurt, this is the action I need to keep myself safe. Or I betrayed my own values. That makes me angry at myself. This is the action that I needed. The anger was an appropriate response. So knowing the right feeling to have and when is a huge part of mental health.
How has your own mental health journey evolved over the years, and has Innerworld helped play a part in that?
My story is kind of crazy. In a nutshell, my mom left when I was 8. My dad started raising me, and he became alcoholic and abusive. I moved out at 15 and became homeless by 18. [I] had tremendous problems—shoplifting, agoraphobia, social anxiety, panic attacks, all kinds of stuff. … I had a talent for… I guess it was a stubbornness of saying, “What about kids like me? I don’t have access to therapy. I don’t have access to traditional support systems. Do I get to learn how to be happy? Is it a learnable skill?” This weird, stubborn insistence I had of like, “I am not going to check out. I’m going to learn how to be happy” and the willingness to keep going, I think, caused me to start to develop behavioral tools for myself.
That’s what I ended up helping put into our youth foundation. We help kids without psychotherapy. It’s not that I’m against psychotherapy. I love therapy, but not everybody has access, and that is wildly unacceptable. We still have to have ways that we can help people who don’t have access to a therapist, and I just realized that these skill-based, behavioral-based tools are what really caused change in my life. That’s, through decades of practice, why I was able to change and have better outcomes and better environments for happiness. That is why I started Innerworld.
Do you have any personal wellness practices that you follow?
Absolutely. Hundreds of them. They evolve over time. We hear the word “resilience” thrown around a lot. I’d just love to define it for people. Resilience is having multiple skill sets for multiple problems. If you have a drought, you need something that helps you in a drought. If you have a flood, you need something that helps you in a flood. When we only have one tool for all situations, that is not resilience. So every time you’re faced with a problem and you realize [you] can’t solve this with the tool, [you] have to say, “I’m willing to learn a new tool,” and you start looking around in your environment for what other tool might be good. My hammer isn’t working. I might need a screwdriver. How do I use a screwdriver? That’s an ongoing mental health maintenance thing that I’m always learning new skills. And when you start realizing you’re capable of learning new skills and have quite a few on your belt, difficult times get a little less scary. You realize, “I don’t get to control bad things that happen in my life, but I do get to choose how they change me.”
My tools helped me convert these experiences into positive outcomes rather than me becoming embittered or more traumatized. So cultivating tools, I think, is a real self-care act that’s constantly evolving.
“Mindfulness” is another word that gets thrown around, so I would just give you guys my definition. My definition is being consciously present. That’s all mindfulness means. Seek to cultivate the skill, the muscle of being consciously present. That’s why we learn how to meditate. … I’m present—now what? It won’t necessarily change your life being present. It just means you’re present with whatever’s happening. What’s happening could suck, or you could be anxious, and now, you’re just present with your anxiety. You could be angry, and now, you’re just present with your anger. That question of “Now what?” I call that mindfulness in motion. How do I put this into an action that gives me a better outcome than my knee-jerk reaction? And I think that’s a really important hallmark of what we’re doing. Meditation apps are so important because they’re like a workout for learning how to be consciously present. But if we don’t follow this up with behavioral tools, I don’t think people are gonna get the level of change that they’re looking for.
I love the term “mindfulness in motion.” If you could give your younger self any advice, what would it be?
I think to realize that willingness is a superpower. You don’t think it’s a very big deal when you’re young. It’s not that glamorous. It’s not that sexy. But when I look back on why I had a good outcome, it’s because I constantly was willing. I was just willing to try again. I was willing to stand up. I was willing to dig back in and see if something worked better. I was willing to realize when it didn’t. Willingness can be a David to a world of mental health Goliath pain.
I love that. It’s very good advice for any young person, I think. Since this is for our Unfiltered series, I’m going to pivot to a few beauty questions. If you had to leave the house in five minutes, what are a few staple beauty products that you would apply or bring with you?
For the day or for a trip?
Let’s say for the day.
For the day, it’s lanolin cream. I love lanolin. I use it as ChapStick. I use it on my knuckles. I’m just addicted to it. Sunscreen. Probably just a tinted sunscreen.
Do you have a favorite brand?
There are a couple. EltaMD is one I really like. I live in a really dry environment, so I go for high moisture, but I do have some that are not quite as heavy in a more humid environment. But that’s kind of it. I’m pretty simple and like my daily routine. I’m very religious about sunscreen and a hat. I don’t go anywhere without a hat. But other than that, that’s it.
I feel you on needing something more moisturizing. I’m from Colorado, so when you’re in a dry environment, I know how it is.
Vanicream is really nice too. I like that one. It’s not tinted, but I really like it. I use it a lot on my neck and my hands even.
I like Vanicream too. Would you say that’s your entire skincare routine every day? Or do you have a skincare routine that you follow day or night?
I think my approach to skincare is incredibly comprehensive. I, first of all, believe that managing our stress is one of the single greatest gifts we can give our skin. Constant stress and anxiety create so much inflammation in our system. During my most stressful times, I would have terrible rosacea. Plus, it ages us. Genuine, emotional self-healing is one of the best beauty tips we have. One of the best beauty hacks is that I drink lots of water. It’s the boring things that I think are easy to overlook that I think have done the most. I do my blood work. It’s privileged. I have the money to be able to do my blood work every three months. I really love it. I do take a lot of vitamins. But even if you don’t have the money to do blood work every three months, there is so much you can do nutritionally.
Make sure that you’re educating yourself on what is truly bioavailable. It’s very important when you’re considering supplements to take and then learning things that help you balance your stress. Always look at managing your stress, meditating, breathing. When it comes to just physical products, again, I keep it pretty simple. I wear sunscreen more than foundation. If I do shows… I love makeup, by the way. I love, gosh, the Armani foundation. I circulate a lot. There are lots of foundations that I really love. I think I just like buying different makeup, so I’m always rotating them in and out. If I had a show, I’ll definitely have fun with makeup.
Do you have a favorite show look that you’ve done?
This last time on tour over last summer, I was doing these huge, bold winged eyes in a single color. Like a green giant—cat eye isn’t the right word.
Like a graphic eye.
Yeah, very graphic.
I love that. Is there anything about your beauty or wellness routine that you think would surprise people?
I mean, I’ve been told a lot that I have nice skin, and people ask me often about it. I really do think that lifestyle and those things are important. But I also think a big part of it is just genetic. I say that because I do a lot of don’ts. I don’t wash my face every night. I sleep with makeup on. My grandma had beautiful skin. I do think part of it is just genetics, and you just [have to] be thankful for that. And you know, sometimes you get away with bad habits.
True. My mom is the same way. She sleeps in makeup even though I tell her not to, but she has great skin. Okay, this is my last question. I’ll preface it by saying you can definitely add some context. What is your Unfiltered beauty philosophy in seven words or fewer?
Take care of yourself inside and out. Or it’s the simple things. The things we often overlook. Keep it simple, stupid? I don’t know.
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