You may know Daytime Emmy Award-winning actress Judi Evans from her roles on Guiding Light, Another World, and Days of Our Lives. But what you may not know is recently the soap opera queen has had to face heartbreaking loss, a devastating injury, and severe COVID-19. Here’s how self-care, family, and faith brought her through those difficult days.
The day is blooming bright as Judi Evans returns home after a walk in her neighborhood and a morning visit with her two horses. “Animals are great,” she shares with Woman’s World, smiling about her two dogs and horses. “They love you unconditionally, and taking care of them catapults you out of your own head.”
For Judi, this comforting state of mind has been important to her healing after the difficult road she’s walked in the past 18 months, which started with the loss of her only son, Austin, at just 23 years old. “He was the center of my life,” she reveals. “Losing him was devastating — my whole world ended in a single moment.”
Mourning her son’s death, Judi spiraled into a depression, and friends suggested she turn to her love of horseback riding to cope. But last May, Judi was in a horseback-riding accident that landed her in the hospital with broken ribs, a broken collarbone, chipped vertebrae, and a bruised lung. While hospitalized, she contracted COVID-19 and almost had to have both legs amputated.
“I didn’t have the will to live at times,” she admits. “But I knew to survive, I had to push past the physical and emotional pain.” With the support of her family and friends and a bit of TLC, Judi pulled through. Today, the 56-year-old is taking things one day — and one joy — at a time.
“Every day, I get up and push forward,” she shares. “It’s tough, but I strive to choose happiness. One of the things I’ve learned through all of this is that I’m supposed to be here. I’m here for a reason, we all are.” Here, Judi’s strategies for staying healthy and finding joy — no matter what challenges you’re facing.
Beat worry with a dose of fun.
“I’m probably one of the rare people who thrives on stress,” Judi says with a laugh. “Stress pushes me to excel and makes me a problem-solver. But when I want to unwind or reduce worry, puzzles and board games are my go-to. It’s all about finding something to focus on to let go of that anxiety. I also love movies, especially documentaries, and reading too. Right now I’m re-reading the unedited version of Stephen King’s The Stand. Fun is one of the best worry busters!”
Lean on the love of your best friends.
“Leaning on my loved ones has really helped me through the last 18 months, and my friends have been a huge part of my healing,” Judi shares. “Deidre Hall has been my rock, and I’m so grateful to have wonderful friends like her who are always there for me. My goal is to give that love and support back to others.”
Find peace through faith.
“I think that a higher being has put me here for a purpose,” Judi says. “When I was in the hospital, I kept thinking, God only gives you what you can handle: I only wish He wouldn’t trust me so much! But when things stretch your ability to get up and brush yourself off, you learn your own strength. When we’re tested, we find we have the ability to be resilient, and with faith we can survive and thrive!”
Take care of you first.
“After my accident, I needed physical therapy,” Judi explains. “So I turned to a neighbor friend who’s also a personal trainer. We trained in his backyard, and within a few months, I could walk again. Now, I work out three or four times a week with him.” Judi also started the TerriAnn 123 Diet Plan to eat healthier foods and began taking sublingual vitamin B-12 for energy. “Just doing small things like this to take care of myself has me feeling so much better!”
Feel joy in the little things.
“Happiness is a choice,” Judi shares. “And sometimes, it’s a really hard choice, but forcing yourself to find something constructive to do is key.” For Judi, true joy is found in gratitude. “After the challenges I have faced and what I’ve lost, I’m so thankful for the things I do have. I can walk again. And I had my son for 23 and a half years. In the depths of my despair, I remember how great it was having him, and that brings joy to my heart.”
Soothe your soul with a single sniff.
“Getting out in nature is great for healing,” Judi shares. “I love all the scents and sounds. I sit under our orange tree for hours smelling the jasmine, and I love the smell and sound of rain. I have apps and a scent machine that simulate those sounds and senses, but candles work too. They’re so reassuring, and when I can’t get outside, they take me out of myself and make me feel great!”
Look for Judi on Days of Our Lives!
Of all the roles that Judi has had the opportunity to play in her career, her return to NBC’s Days of Our Lives as the mischievous Bonnie excites her most. “I love playing her!” Judi cheers. “Every time I pick up a script, I laugh out loud or gasp. It’s always a surprise — nothing is too shocking for her!” To catch Judi on the latest episodes of Days of Our Lives, check your local NBC listings.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.