World Mental Health Day: 9 Celebs Share Their Self-Care Strategies

From painting to dancing, everyone needs something different.

In ‘What Works For Me’ – a series of articles considering how we can find balance in our lives – we talk to people about their self-care strategies. If you’d like to contribute your story, email us.

You might go to the gym to improve your physical fitness, but what do you do to keep yourself mentally and emotionally strong?

HuffPost UK’s interview series What Works For Me asks people just that. From famous faces to regular folk with extraordinary stories, we find out how people use self-care to build resilience in their day-to-day lives.

This World Mental Health Day, we’re taking a look back through the highlights of the series so far, where we asked stars how they deal with issues from depression to everyday stress. Here’s what they had to say.

‘Create Art’ – Fearne Cotton

Having experienced depression, anxiety and panic attacks in the past, Cotton said drawing and painting help her keep well.

“It’s something that is relaxing but still has an outcome,” she said. “I’m not distracted when I’m drawing, but I’m in a more meditative state where the white noise of life definitely fades into the background. I just feel really at peace.”

‘Learn When To Say ‘No’’ - Dame Kelly Holmes

Dame Kelly Holmes has long been open about her history of self-harm and depression. In an interview with HuffPost UK, she said learning when to say “no” has helped keep her mental health on track.

“Self-care to me is really in the little things,” she said. “It’s about recognising when I’m having a down day and realising that I don’t need to go out training.”

The athlete said people need to work on getting to know themselves, and being confident enough to say “no I can’t” or “yes I will” when it suits them. “I’ve learned to say ‘no’ a lot, which I didn’t before,” she said.

‘Learn When To Say ‘Yes’’ – Tom Kerridge

In contrast to Dame Kelly Holmes, Tom Kerridge said as he approached 40, he decided to say “yes” to more things that made him happy. Part of the process was thinking carefully about whether an opportunity/night out/extra pint would actually bring him joy – or whether he was doing it to please others. This resulted in a healthier lifestyle, where he lost 12 stone and felt mentally lighter.

“You can’t let harder times overwhelm you,” he said. “You can go ‘Ok, it’s all right, I can see the end of the tunnel and next week I will get back on track’, and then you get that new-found confidence again.”

‘Walking At Sunrise’ - Kate Humble

For Kate Humble, walking her dogs in the early morning light helps her regain perspective after a restless night.

“The curse of the middle-aged woman is that you never sleep properly and when you don’t sleep properly, you tend to worry about things – and these worries get out of proportion,” the presenter told us.

“One of the things I find about walking is that the things that have been bothering you in the middle of the night suddenly become much easier to deal with.”

‘Playing The Piano’ - Martin Roberts

When Martin Roberts is feeling overwhelmed with stress, he sits down at his piano and plays.

“When you’re playing music, you have to think about it,” the ‘Homes Under The Hammer’ star told HuffPost UK. “There’s no space, there’s no brain processing power left. The only thing I can focus on is the music and creating that music. It silences all of the other rubbish that’s flying around.”

‘Use Guided Meditation Apps’ – Tess Daly

During Strictly season, Tess Daly stands in front of an autocue, knowing 8.1 million fans are waiting to hear what she says – it’s a lot of pressure.

“When I get in from presenting on a studio floor with a live audience, that adrenaline is still surging through my system and you can’t just switch it off immediately,” she told HuffPost UK.

To rediscover inner calm, the presenter turns to meditation using a guided app after every show. “I feel so good afterwards. You can see everything with more clarity, I find, after you slow down,” she said.

‘Dancing For Sheer Fun’ - Ashley Banjo

Ashley Banjo started his career as a dancer, so fans of the Diversity star (now best known as a judge on Dancing on Ice) won’t be surprised to hear hitting the studio back home helps him find inner peace.

“You can be going through the worst day, or have something on your mind – telling yourself ‘get over it’, ‘don’t be angry’ – but when you’re dancing, you’re almost forced to shut it out,” he said. “It’s like you enter a different mind space, almost. You go out of the adult, conscious brain and you enter this primal, subconscious state.”

“Seeing A Therapist” – Emilia Fox

Actor Emilia Fox helped break some of the stigma that still surrounds therapy when she told HuffPost UK she has seen three in the past, who’ve helped her deal with the emotional impact of divorce and miscarriage.

“I needed help in seeing how my life was changing,” she said, adding that she still sees one regularly. “When you are on my own, you let your mind run away with the terror of things in life.”

“Run While Calling Friends” – Clara Amfo

BBC Radio 1 presenter Clara Amfo talks all day for a living, so you might be surprised to hear her self-care strategy is running – while talking to her mates on the phone. How does the multi-tasking make her feel?

“Out of breath!” she joked. “But I always feel good. I never regret going for a run. That’s the great thing about exercise in general, you will always feel better for it.”

Training for a half marathon in 2016 also helped her to process grief after the death of her father, she said: “Running for me was such, and still is, a bit of a saviour to be honest.”