Deborah Hutton and Rebecca Gibney: How we keep mentally fit

Wednesday, January 30, 2013
How Deborah Hutton and Rebecca Gibney keep mentally and physically fit
Deborah Hutton and Rebecca Gibney. Photography by Steven Chee, styling by Judith Cook.

Most people think that looking after your health means eating well and getting a little exercise. Yet many medical experts now believe that looking after the mind is just as vital as taking care of the body. In fact, as actress Rebecca Gibney and TV personality Deborah Hutton tell Michael Sheather, taking care of your emotional and mental health may sometimes be even more important.

At 48, Rebecca Gibney has learned that it's incredibly important to maintain mental health as well as physical wellbeing.

"The mind and the body are, after all, different sides of the same coin," she says.

The Aussie actress, who meditates every day, has learned the importance of keeping stress from building up and focusing on how we feel rather than how we look, but it hasn't been an easy journey for her to strike such balance.

"I suffered anxiety attacks for more than 20 years," she tells The Weekly.

"They probably only started to recede when my son, Zac, was born. I still have them every so often, usually when I am working too much and I feel overwhelmed and under pressure.

"I can feel my heart rate start to quicken and I start to feel physically ill. It's a feeling that you are losing control and, sometimes, it can be so bad that you feel like you are having a heart attack or that you are going to day. It's awful."

After mustering the courage to seek help from psychiatrists in her 20s and mastering the art of meditation and controlled breathing and mental exercises, Rebecca has learned to control her anxiety and live a happy and secure life.

"I am incredibly lucky that I have a wonderful, supportive family and friends. My husband is my rock and my safe place. But we are also very aware that you can't depend solely on one other human being to be your saviour," she says.

"Your wellbeing, mentally and physically, is your responsibility. I could have spent my life blaming my father or my childhood, but the truth is that doesn't help anyone. I had to find a way to get through it because I am responsible for my own life and happiness."

Deborah Hutton has also had to work hard at finding happiness.

"It doesn't just fall in your lap," she says.

"You have to have it in your mind first before you can make it a reality and you have to know what it is that is going to make you happy. Defining the things that are important to you is part of that."

Deborah says keeping your mind active will help you face the challenges of getting older, and at 51, she's learned that the key to being healthy is balance between your mind and body, but achieving this is not without its challenges.

"It's a delicate matter because you need to pay attention to both the mind and the body for them to work in harmony," she says.

"Of the two, the mind is probably the most important, above the physical health of the body but they are both important."

Read more of this story in the February issue of The Australian Women's Weekly.

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