Sheryl Crow on How Staying Active Has Changed Her Life

The rock-pop-country superstar on the physical and mental practices that help her tough out the hard times.

Sheryl Crow
Photo: Erik Pendzich/Shutterstock

Having a scare with breast cancer [Crow was diagnosed in 2006] — even knowing that I was going to beat it — transformed and redefined my life in so many ways. That old saying “Don’t sweat the small stuff” had a lot of context for me. Before then I’d been really hard on myself and surrounded myself with people who expected a lot out of me. But, you know, it’s like that example of putting on your own oxygen mask before you put on your kid’s. In the beginning that concept was antithetical to everything I’d ever done. I’d always based my self-worth on being productive and doing great work.

Sheryl Crow

Now I totally embrace days when I can just sit and do nothing. But exercise is really important to me. Whether it’s going for a jog or getting on my rowing machine, it’s a great way of burning through some of that unnecessary anxiety. I have one of the machines with water in it — it’s low-impact and core- and back-strengthening. And meditating has encouraged me to let go and not be so critical of myself. I started when my career was exploding and I felt like I couldn’t find myself anymore. I do mindfulness meditation, and the objective really is to quiet the brain. Our brains are full of accumulated information that’s not always truthful. So you quiet the mind, and, hopefully, as thoughts come in, you acknowledge them and let them go as opposed to telling yourself, “I suck. I can’t do anything right.” Because you know your brain can tell you how badly you suck at things all day long. But the joy for me has come from being able to accept the way I am and enjoy that, wrinkles and all.

Sheryl Crow
Crow performing at the 2019 Kaaboo Del Mar festival in Del Mar, Calif. Photo: Taylor Hill/Getty Images

Moving to Nashville in 2006 was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I’ve been all over the world, in a business that largely revolves around staying relevant, being young, and looking perfect, but I feel more intact with this small-town girl now than I have at any other time. I still love touring, though. I think a part of it is my age. You’re not in the new hot young club or in the fray on the radio. I’ve always written about things that matter to me, and I’m still doing that because there’s a stronger sense of urgency now that I have two young kids. You’re trying to teach them that lying isn’t OK, to tell the truth and always treat people with compassion while everything around them is reflecting something different. So it’s an interesting time to be an honest artist. I just have to ignore all the haters who say, “Shut up and sing.”

Crow’s new album, Threads, is out now.

For more stories like this, pick up the December issue of InStyle, available on newsstands, on Amazon, and for digital download November 22.

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