The 44-year-old actress, who initially moved to Los Angeles at the tender age of 17, now considers Utah her sanctuary.
During a recent episode of the "TODAY" show, Heigl opened up about her affinity for the mountains over the beach, a preference she has held since her youth. "I think some people are mountain people, and I think some people are beach people," Heigl said. "I’m sort of a mountain person and have always been that way."
Her mother, observing her daughter's relentless hustle in the demanding world of Hollywood, recognized Heigl's need for an escape, a place to clear her head and ground herself. "And my mom realized, because we went out to LA when I was 17 and hustled and hustled for years, right? And I think she realized at a certain point that I needed somewhere to escape to and kind of clear my head, and that grounded me," Heigl shared.
This realization led to a search for the perfect retreat, culminating in the discovery of Utah. Initially intended as a vacation home, the Utah residence gradually became a more permanent fixture in Heigl's life. "We built these houses in Utah that we expected to be more kind of vacation homes, or when I could get away from the hustle and all the work. And we just started spending more and more time there," Heigl explained.
The transition was solidified when her husband, singer Josh Kelley, declared it his primary residence. "And it was my husband who finally made it his primary residence on his driver’s license and stuff. And we went. ‘Yeah, I think this is our primary residence. We live here now.'"
For Heigl, the move to Utah has proven to be the "right move" for her family. She feels "more centered" and able to keep her finger "on the pulse" of her children's lives. Heigl and Kelley are parents to three children; Naleigh, 13, Adalaide, 11, and Joshua, 6.
"I think my children sometimes wish they were in more of a hubbub exciting city," Heigl admitted. "But I said to them, ‘I understand that you are sacrificing that in some ways but I still think it was the right choice for our family, because I am more centered and aware of what’s going on in your life.'"
The move to Utah occurred in 2010, following Heigl's departure from "Grey's Anatomy," a decision allegedly influenced by tension with the show's executive producer and creator, Shonda Rhimes. Heigl later confessed to Vanity Fair that her exit from the show was due to her struggle with anxiety. "I was up here in my head, in my gut, in my mind, in my life. I was just vibrating at way too high of a level of anxiety," Heigl said. "For me, it’s all a bit of a blur, and it took me years to learn how to deal with that, to master it."
While she admits she hasn't fully mastered her anxiety, Heigl acknowledges the importance of addressing and managing stress. "And if you leave stress too long, unmanaged and unaddressed, it can be debilitating," she warned.