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Monica Potter of ‘Parenthood’ tries to keep the stress low

By Cindy Pearlman/Big Picture News Inc.

There is something about playing a breast cancer survivor on television that makes you even more aware.

Monica Potter, 43, a survivor on TV’s “Parenthood,” says, “It’s true that I’m taking better care of myself after playing this role. I’m even getting a mammogram every six months. There is a cyst they found a few years ago and we’re monitoring.

“You have to be aware of your health and vow each day to take a little better care of yourself.”

Unlike her Type A character Kristina Braverman on the last season of the NBC drama, Potter says she is learning to relax as the main part of her personal wellness regime. “I’m trying to slow down a little bit and enjoy the smaller things, but it’s hard. As a mom, you’re always doing something and always expected to do more. And that’s not just a pressure from your kids.

“I think as women we feel this pressure from other parents, school and society. It’s just never enough,” says the mother of Danny, 23, Liam, 19, and Molly, 9.

“You have to keep stress levels to a minimum. Stress contributes to you making poor dieting choices. When you’re stressed, you don’t exercise or sleep. It’s a slippery slope.”

Potter recently started her own lifestyle website, MrsPotter.com. She shared her other wellness tips, plus one of her favorite DIY recipes:

• TONE DOWN YOUR LIFESTYLE. “I used to love to go out and occasionally party,” Potter says. “I’d have a drink, hang out and have fun doing a little tailgaiting for going out with friends. I don’t do that as much anymore. My life is about work and kids. I go to bed at 8:30 at night, and feel great because of it.”

• ALLOW AN EXERCISE BREAK. Wait … she doesn’t live in the gym? “I haven’t been exercising lately,” she says. “It’s partly because of my schedule and other part is just making excuses. The thing is you can have a lull with the exercise but find a way to really get back into it. I joined a gym with my boys, so we can do that together. We’re getting ready for that by doing some juicing and taking vitamins. I think if you watch what you eat, then going to the gym just feels like the next natural step.”

• POWER DOWN. “We live in an age where there is an abundance of access to crap. You need to sort through all of what’s stressing you and get back to a simpler way of life. Turn off the TV. Put down the electronics. Just breathe.”

• FIGURE OUT YOUR STRESS BUSTER. “When I’m really stressed, I let it go by jumping into the tub with some Epsom salts. I fill up my bath with peppermint and lavender, too, because they’re both balancing. One wakes you up and another calms you down. It’s about clarity when you’re stressed.” She adds, “Another way to bust stress when you tend to ruminate is Four Square breathing. Imagine your breath drawing a square. Draw one side with each deep breath. You can even take your finger and move it in the direction of the box line you’re drawing. It’s what I do before every take.”

MONICA POTTER’S PUMPKIN MASK

Pumpkin is loaded with vitamins and antioxidants to help hydrate and even diminish any redness in your skin. Potter says, “I keep it stored in a mason jar in the fridge, so it’s easily accessible. It can store for about a week. I even use it on my face, neck and even my hands.”

Ingredients

2 tbsp canned pumpkin puree

1 tsp honey

1 tsp milk

Mix all the ingredients together and apply to your skin with your fingers or a beauty brush. Allow the mask to work for about 30 minutes. Then rinse with lukewarm water and follow with your favorite moisturizer. “I like to do this at the end of the day, so my skin can reap the benefits of the mask all night without any makeup clogging my pores,” she says.