Jennifer Garner Explains Why She's 'Grateful,' Not 'Scared' of Getting Older: 'Aging Is a Gift' (Exclusive)

The actress and Neutrogena brand ambassador talks to PEOPLE in this week's issue about her current self-care routine — both physical and mental

<p>James Devaney/GC </p> Jennifer Garner in New York City on Nov.27, 2023

James Devaney/GC

Jennifer Garner in New York City on Nov.27, 2023

Jennifer Garner is embracing every precious year of life.

In this week's issue of PEOPLE, the 51-year-old actress and longtime Neutrogena brand ambassadoradmits that even though she has her "moments" where she reflects on her younger years, "Honestly, mostly, I am grateful just to be alive."

"And I'm grateful for the wisdom that I've gleaned out of these years and really grateful to be able to watch other women go through this process of life so gracefully," Garner adds.

She also says she tries "to follow in their footsteps and tell other young women, 'Take care of yourself, but don't be scared. Aging is a gift.' "

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<p>Emma McIntyre/WireImage</p> Jennifer Garner on June 3, 2023, in Hollywood, California

Emma McIntyre/WireImage

Jennifer Garner on June 3, 2023, in Hollywood, California

Related: Jennifer Garner Shares Her Beauty MVPs and Why Her Routine Is Full of Vital — Not Viral — Products (Exclusive)

As for what her own personal self-care routine looks like, the 13 Going on 30 actress tells PEOPLE she works out "every day," as "it's super important for my mental health."

"I eat really well. I just finished a big bowl of kale," she continues. "And I have a really strong family and strong relationships in my life."

The mother of three — who shares Violet, 18, Seraphina, 15, and Samuel, 12, with ex-husband Ben Affleck — says she also allows herself to "have down days."

"I don't try to be Pollyanna all the time," Garner says. "And I'm gentle with myself."

<p>Amanda Edwards/WireImage</p> Jennifer Garner in Los Angeles on April 13, 2023

Amanda Edwards/WireImage

Jennifer Garner in Los Angeles on April 13, 2023

Related: Jennifer Garner Reveals the Phrases She Tries Not to Say as a Parent: 'Have to Sit on My Hands' (Exclusive)

Though she prioritizes her own health, for her upcoming birthday next month, Garner is prioritizing "look(ing) outside of" herself.

"Every year I do something that I love to include people in that feeds me," says the Once Upon a Farm co-founder. "Last year I went to a park in L.A. and planted trees with my kids. One year we loaded backpacks up to give kids food to take home with them after school."

"I know what I'm going to do this year, and it's coming together," adds the Family Switch actress. "To me that day is about: How am I going to look outside of myself? How am I giving back to the world that gives me so much?"

For more from Jennifer Garner, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now, or subscribe here.

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Read the original article on People.