When we first started our How Are You, Today series in June last year, we had no idea how popular it would become – and how many wonderful, honest and meandering conversations we would have with some of our most famous Kiwis. In this compendium, we present to you the entire collection of chats – and the advice or answers that still sticks with us today. For last year’s best of, which included Jacinda Ardern, John Campbell and Jenny-May Clarkson, click here.
Kiwi Singer Benee on how why we shouldn’t put pressure on ourselves during bad depression days
“Literally just getting up and having a shower can be a really good thing. I had a lot of sad showers. But the way I like to think of it is that every shower you have, you’re washing away a bit of it. It’s also important to think ‘I want to make this better and I want to be happy again,’ so even pulling up fun memories on your phone, it makes you realise that you can’t stay that unhappy forever.
There are ways to help – go for a walk, sit in nature. I have a dog, who has helped me SO much in the past year – I would highly recommend even getting a rabbit, or a lizard, or a fish! Something to take care of – having a dog and a cat forces me to get up early because I have to feed them and then I have to take my dog for a walk, every day. And that’s been a really great thing for me, to have to do those basic things.
But also not putting too much pressure on yourself is really important. Not feeling like you have to be productive – just giving myself time and saying to myself ‘this is part of the process, sitting in this sadness.’”
Matty McLean on how a good partner should be a good cheerleader for you, personally AND professionally
“I think we both found the thing that makes us happy professionally, so it’s easy to get on board with your partner’s profession when you see how happy it makes them. And not just be a cheerleader, but actually help out where I can, and vice versa. And that’s been so amazing. It’s easy to be driven and push yourself forward when there’s someone there who’s celebrating you, but who will also reap the rewards of that. That’s what family and relationships are supposed to be.”
Presenter Hayley Holt on how powerful community and sharing can be when you’re experiencing grief
“What helped was the sharing. It was people saying you’re not alone, and we love you, and we are sharing this with you. I was lucky, because I had so many close friends but also so many people I didn’t know, who were giving that to me. And I could feel it – I could feel the energy, in a way. And it was so beautiful, I felt so close to humanity. You can’t say anything that will fix anything, you can’t say anything that will make it better. Just knowing that you care, and that you’re there, it means a lot. It made me realise that it is worth sending a text or a message, because it can feel like it doesn’t help, that it’s flippant, but when you’re in that place, you can feel that love. It feels like it gives you a big spiritual cuddle.”
Disability advocate Grace Stratton on the extra work expected from disabled people, on a daily basis.
“Part of disability is choosing who you’re going to educate. Because if you choose to educate everyone throughout the day, you’d be using all your energy trying to explain and justify yourself to people. So, you either learn to let it go over your head and not annoy you or you choose to explain to people. But the other side of that coin is that… it’s tricky, because you don’t want random people coming up to you on the street or speaking to you really slowly but when I meet someone or I’m starting a new role or something, I think it is important that if people want to ask, that they felt like they can.”
Broadcaster and mental-health advocate Jehan Casinader on why our mental health distress or diagnosis does not define us.
“I always say to people, we are not defined by distress. And I was for a really long time, I just became this really pathetic, depressed character in my story, I felt like my brain was broken, I felt like I was defective. I felt like I was hopeless.
So for me, the notion that I had depression, became this really helpful story in my life. And what I had to do was actually return to the things that made me who I was, you know, my values, my beliefs, my interests, my relationships, and remind myself that those were the things that were really important to me and those were the things that that made up my identity, not whatever distress I was experiencing in that period.”
ZM Host and Celebrity Treasure Island Host Bree Tomasel on why she uses her platform to connect with people about mental health
“It’s really hard because my day starts with going onto the internet and finding content to talk about, and everything that you’re looking at is just really grim, so it’s quite hard to not take that on. And at times it can feel a bit like social media where people are only sharing the highlights reel and there was one point last year where I felt really fake, because I was trying to entertain people and give them a laugh but at the same time, I wanted to let people know that if they weren’t doing great, then I felt that way too. You feel less alone when you’re like ‘oh, wait a minute, this person who I listen to every day, who seems so happy, is actually a real person who has these feelings I have too.’”
Director and screenwriter Roseanne Liang on the power of saying no
“Personally I’ve had the privilege of being able to say no to things. I’m not a huge motivational speaker person, but Tony Robbins – a contentious guy – has this saying ‘You get what you tolerate’. I get that you have to earn money to put food on the table for your family. But being able to say no to projects has been one of the most freeing and creatively fulfilling things that I’ve learned. And I get that that’s a privilege, and I accept that. But maybe, privilege comes with a responsibility. Like a superpower. If I have the privilege to say no to something, then I better say yes to something that means something.”
The Edge’s presenter Meg Mansell on why people need to stop viewing being fat as their worst-case scenario
“For some people it really is the worst thing that people can imagine – the worst thing that can happen to them is to have a body like mine. And it’s just wrong! I could be a really bad person; everyone could hate me – I could have zero friends. I could be stuck in a job that I hate. If the worst thing in the world is that I live my life in a body that doesn’t fit with society’s expectations of what a body should be… if that’s the worst thing, and I look around and I’ve got a great husband, a great family, a great job and I’m lucky enough to own a home… I mean, get over it.”
Broadcaster Hayley Sproull on the freedom of getting older.
“It’s so freeing. I remember everyone saying in my early 20s that I wouldn’t care about this stuff in my 30s and yeah, it’s so true. Every year I get older, I give less and less shits about what people say.”
Actor and author Claire Chitham on how Covid-19 brought us back to basics with our gratitude
“I learned that my connections to my friends and family were incredibly strong and that in my feeling safe, I could help other people feel safe and help talk some friends of the ledge. I just think that relationships and good communication, sharing inane and joyful things with each other are so important. It’s being able to touch a pet and hug your dad and be there, for people, in the physical form. Not just virtually. For me it was safety, security and connection. When I was learning to become a Pilates teacher, I was taught that the reptilian brain requires the three ‘S’s’ for survival: sex, safety and sustenance. There’s something primal about survival that I think we possibly all had a little reflection on during last year.”
Sam Bloom, who had a movie made about her life and recovery from a tragic accident, on the daily practise of choosing gratitude over bitterness.
“I think it’ll always be there. You know, it’s summer for me and summer was my favourite – being on a beach or surfing and all that. And now it’s kind of like love hate thing. I wake up and it looks like a beautiful day, but it’s bittersweet. So I think I’ll always be a bit angry and sad inside. Y’know, I don’t go around carrying on like a crazy person, but it’ll always feel like that deep inside. But, I’m also very lucky. I still have really fun days and I get to watch my boys grow up. And you know, Cam and I still get to go surfing, and hang out – it’s not the same as it used to be, but I am lucky.”