Lance Bass on learning to say no and squeezing in self-care as a new dad of twins

·4-min read
Lance Bass on mental health, fatherhood and more. (Photo: Getty; designed by Quinn Lemmers)
Lance Bass on mental health, fatherhood and more. (Photo: Getty; designed by Quinn Lemmers)

The Unwind is Yahoo Life’s well-being series in which experts, influencers and celebrities share their approaches to wellness and mental health, from self-care rituals to setting healthy boundaries to the mantras that keep them afloat.

As if the upcoming holiday season isn’t hectic enough, former NSYNC member Lance Bass has added parenting to his fall/winter (and life!) duties. Last month he and husband Michael Turchin welcomed twins Violet Betty and Alexander James via surrogate. 

In addition to (quickly) learning how to change diapers, Bass is working in partnership with Starbucks, sharing his advice for making holiday reconnections more meaningful in a campaign called Starbucks Holiday Presence Exchange. The Mississippi native who, like many, was grounded during the pandemic, is looking forward to the upcoming season — not just as a new parent eager to create memories, but simply as a person relieved to finally reconnect with friends and family.

Yahoo Life caught up with the actor/singer/dancer/host from his home (complete with crying babies and barking dogs in the background) and talked about missing the ease of the ‘90s, keeping his mental and physical health in check and squeezing in time for himself as a new dad of twins. 

What’s your approach to mental health?

My approach has changed over the years. I’ve learned that to take care of myself is to take little breaks. Before the pandemic, I didn't realize that I was working too much, flying too much and really doing things I could have easily said no to. There’s a lot of power in saying no, which I finally realized in the last couple of years. That helps me relax more. I’m a people pleaser — I was always saying yes to everything! — and I've learned that no really helps me.

What stresses you out?

I get stressed when I’m overworked and the schedule is too crazy. Always trying to please everyone is exhausting. You can't please everyone, and you really just need to take care of yourself and do what you really want to do.

To that point, what brings you joy?

I’ve learned how to really treat myself, as Retta would say: "Treat yo' self [laughs]." Having a spa day helps me; a massage or head massage releases stress. Now we have kids, but for an hour, Michael will take over with the twins, and I’ll take a bubble bath and I’ll unwind.

How do you carve out time for yourself?

My schedule is so all over the place, you really can't schedule anything. I’d love [a routine] but every day is different, so you have to grab those minutes when you can and take really advantage of that time.

So if you find yourself with an extra half hour, what would you do? Nap? Meditate? Play Candy Crush?

I have to say, I was a little addicted to a game called Hay Day;  my niece got me into it [laughs]. But I try not to use a screen, so if I had an extra 30 minutes, I'd work out — even to take a 30-minute walk in the neighborhood. We got a new machine in our bedroom called Tonal that has changed the way I work out. It’s simple but now, I never have to go to the gym again! If I find 30 minutes at the end of the day, I force myself. At the end of a 30-minute workout, you’re so happy you did it. You feel alive!

As a dancer, your body must crave movement.

Very, very true. Every day we were on stage, performing, swearing our booties off. Now that I’m not on stage as much, you have to learn what’s best for your body. I eat well now. I’m diabetic and that helps me in the way I eat — low sugar, very low carb. I’ve known what I should be eating for a long time and now I’m starting to implement it.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Trust your gut. Trust yourself, listen to advice — but also follow your own instincts.

I know that, as a new parent, you’re looking ahead, but I can’t help remembering you from 20 years ago.

It was so much simpler. We were very lucky; they call us Xennials. We didn't have cell phones in high school, but we had cell phones in college. I loved going through high school without that technology and distraction. I wish my kids could know what that felt like.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

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