Amongst other things, Rhian’s area of expertise lies predominantly within vegan & cruelty free living; which in itself can say a lot about a person.
Rhian has (and still does) struggle with mental health issues including depression and anxiety; both of which she has spoken freely about in a number of her videos. In fact, not only has she opened up about her own mental health journey, she has extended her compassion to her viewers by running a series entitled “A Safe Place“, where her followers can anonymously open up about issues they are trying to combat, and subsequently gain advice or support from the community.
Many people who follow a vegan lifestyle have chosen to do so by way of showing compassion to other living beings and a desire to reduce unnecessary harm to animals – yet showing compassion to ourselves is something which often falls by the wayside.
With Rhian’s focus on de-stigmatizing mental illness, and her ability to empower others through genuine kindness, we thought we would take the opportunity to ask her a few questions.
Mental Health & Compassionate Living with Rhian HY
1. We love how transparent you are about your mental health on your YouTube channel. Was it difficult to first talk about things publicly and ‘put it out there’ for the world to see?
Well, thank you! I feel pretty fortunate that mental health was never an avoided topic in my house growing up so I think I got to skip some of the stigma that prevents others from talking about it but it also made me realize just how imperative it is that I do share my story when I feel able to.
Even from the first time mentioning mental health, I had people contact me directly countless times to tell me how refreshing it was to not feel alone or just to see someone speak openly about something SO common yet so stigmatized, so that just pushed me to share more and more.
Granted, you never know how things will come across online but the amazing support from viewers made it so much easier.
2. Obviously your channel predominantly focuses on living a compassionate lifestyle with the underlying themes of cruelty free products and a vegan diet. Do you think it’s important to be compassionate towards yourself, also?
Absolutely, and I think the two go hand in hand. It’s not always easy or even possible to live a completely guilt-free way of life but as long as you’re trying in any small way whether it’s veganism or reducing waste, I think you should celebrate those things and be nice to yourself in return. I also think being kind and caring towards your self makes you better able to care about others… the whole putting your oxygen mask on before helping others thing is often something I think about when I’ve been neglecting myself. It’s so important.
3. As someone who enjoys the healthier things in life, how would you say your diet has helped or affected your overall wellbeing? Does what you eat play a big role in how you feel?
The healthier I became, the better I felt mentally and physically but also the more I realized how crappy I felt before. I think your body adjusts quickly to being healthier so if you do slip into old habits, it always feels way worse than you remember and I think it’s even a good reminder of why you try and stick to the diet you do.
There are definitely times I might be in a slump and eat whatever is quick/easy and I do start to feel sluggish and foggy and crave a heaping plate of veggies so I try and listen to my body and treat it as well as I can. As with any other self care acts, you should feel good when you do it, and diet is no different. Celebrate the healthy meals!
4. A particularly broad question here, but what advice would you give to those who are struggling with mental health issues and may therefore struggle to exercise and eat healthfully?
Truthfully that’s something I struggle with ’til this day. Some things I try and employ in this situation are to:
a) Start Now; and
b) Make The Next Decision A Good One
Whether it’s just going for an extra dog walk, doing some yoga, taking the stairs etc… small changes should be regarded just as highly as the big ones and the sooner you do them, the better you start to feel. It doesn’t always happen like that though, so if you don’t manage, don’t sweat it too much and get it next time!
5. What are some personal steps you take for self-care when you’re feeling glum?
- Eat something and drink some water. Super basic but easily forgotten when you’re down and it makes a big difference to how you feel. A dehydrated brain isn’t a happy one.
- Shower and wash your hair. Again, basic but easy to avoid and helps so much when you are feeling squeaky clean.
- Get outside and go for a walk. Many times I’ve been having the worst day and walking my dogs is what snaps me out of it. Just being in nature and not on your phone can do amazing things.
- Talk to someone. Whether it’s about what you’re currently feeling or just chatting about random things, it’s always good to either see a familiar face or speak to one.
6. And lastly, can you summarize why you feel living compassionately to others is important?
I pondered this for a while and I guess what it comes down to for me is that only good things come from living this way. The worst that ever comes from being compassionate towards others is that they might not accept it and that’s okay too, you tried.
Until living compassionately is just the norm, I’ll still be here ramming it down your throats (very compassionately) online.
If you are suffering with mental health problems, please seek professional support.