No stranger to the spotlight, triple-threat dancer, singer, and actor Jennifer Lopez is making headlines once again. But this time it’s not for a chart-topping album or her high-profile engagement to rekindled love Ben Affleck. Instead, it’s for something more personal—her health. In a recent newsletter to fans, the now 52-year-old star is opening up about a medical crisis that she says left her feeling “terrified.” Read on to learn how Lopez’s health scare began a “journey to wellness” that she says is “about pro-living versus anti-aging.”
At the age of 22 in 1991, Lopez launched her dance career as a Fly Girl on the hit comedy series In Living Color. In 1997, she broke through to the world of acting, landing the title role in Selena and quickly becoming the highest paid Hispanic female actor in Hollywood. Yet Lopez’s meteoric rise to fame came at a cost, as she shared in a recent newsletter to fans.
“There was a time in my life where I used to sleep three to five hours a night. I’d be on set all day and in the studio all night and doing junkets and filming videos on the weekends,” she wrote. “I was in my late 20s and I thought I was invincible. Until one day, I was sitting in a trailer, and all the work and the stress it brought with it, coupled with not enough sleep to recuperate mentally, caught up with me.”
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A surprising episode served as a wake-up call to the star, who says she had made work “such an all-consuming priority” that she had neglected her own basic self-care needs. “I found myself feeling physically paralyzed,” Lopez recalled in the newsletter. “I went from feeling totally normal to thinking about what I needed to do that day and all of a sudden I felt as if I couldn’t move. I was completely frozen,” Lopez wrote, adding that she “couldn’t see clearly.”
The symptoms scared Lopez, and “the fear compounded itself” as she tried desperately to understand what was happening to her. “Now I know it was a classic panic attack brought on by exhaustion, but I had never even heard the term at the time,” wrote Lopez. “I thought I was losing my mind.”
The Halftime star’s security guard arrived on set and whisked her away to a doctor. “I asked the doctor if I was going crazy. He said, ‘No, you’re not crazy. You need sleep… get seven to nine hours of sleep per night, don’t drink caffeine, and make sure you get your workouts in if you’re going to do this much work.'”
Though Lopez was at a high point in her career—juggling albums, movie releases, a lifestyle brand, and a marriage—the toll it was all taking on her body was just too high, she now says. “I realized how serious the consequences could be of ignoring what my body and mind needed to be healthy—and that’s where my journey to wellness began.”
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The Marry Me actor says this was a crucial turning point—one that showed her the importance of living “a very healthy and balanced life.” She insists her wellness routine—which includes supplements, sunscreen, serums, and ample sleep, is “about pro-living versus anti-aging,” though the benefits to her ageless appearance are clear.
“I think of sleep like a little time machine. You lay down and you go into a space where you preserve yourself and then you come out a new, younger person than you were before. Sometimes I wake up and say, ‘Wow! I just lost 10 years off my face!’ That’s what a good night’s sleep can do for you,” says Lopez.
The other obvious benefit lies in Lopez’s continued drive and energy over 30 years into a uniquely demanding career. “It’s halftime!” she recently told Entertainment Tonight. “Champions are made in the third and fourth quarter. That’s when you win! I feel like there’s a lot left for me. So, I’m very excited about it.”