Idris Elba, a self-professed "workaholic," says he has been in...

Idris Elba, a self-professed "workaholic," says he has been in therapy for the past year to learn new ways to relax. Credit: Invision / AP / Evan Agostini

“Luther” and “Hijack” star Idris Elba says therapy has helped him to understand that his unhealthy habits, particularly what he calls his workaholism, are not beneficial to his career.

“I've been in therapy for the last, I'd say, about a year now,” the English actor, 51, said in Sunday’s episode of the podcast “Changes with Annie Macmanus.” “In my therapy I've been thinking a lot about changing, almost to the point of neuropaths being changed and shifting,” he added. "And it's not because I don't like myself or anything like that. It’s just that I have some unhealthy habits that I've just really formed, and I work in an industry . . . [in which] I'm rewarded for those unhealthy habits.”

The five-time Emmy Award nominee explained, “Whether it's to be selfish or to be … a workaholic. I'm an absolute workaholic,” he said. “And that isn't great for life generally. Nothing that's too extreme is good. Everything needs balance. But I'm rewarded massively to be a workaholic, to [be] someone that can go, ‘Oh, I'm not going see my family for six months.’ I'm in there grinding and make a new [work] family and then leave them. Y’know, those are pathways that I had to be, like, ‘I've got to adjust. Got to adjust.’ ”

He ruminated that, “A lot of our childhood is really at the root of it. Even though we grow into an adult, the parts that grow are the physicality of us, but the mindset remains childlike for a long time. You grow, it changes, because your experiences change. But once you've learned as a kid that, y’know, someone yells at you and you …,” he trailed off, not finding a word. “Like, that's going to be your footprint, and it takes time and nurture to get that out as a thing.”

He is trying, he said, but finds it difficult. “I could have worked 10 days on a film, underwater sequences, holding my breath for six minutes and come back and sit here” in his home studio, working on projects related to his filmmaking, DJing and entrepreneurialism, and be more comfortable “than sitting on the sofa watching TV with the family — which is bad, right? And this is the part where I've got to sort of normalize, if you like, what makes me relaxed. Can't be all work.”

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