Danielle Talbot is a 25-year-old from Waikato. Born and raised in Hamilton, she is the youngest of two siblings from a NZ/European family. Danielle graduated from Auckland University of Technology with a Conjoint degree - Bachelor of Business and Bachelor of Communication Studies - before taking up a job in advertising. A lover of family, she enjoys regular trips to the family bach in Waihi. Danielle currently lives in Hamilton, where she works in the advertising industry.

I have some set routines and habits that give me a good grounding every day. I’m quite strict in them, which I think is a good thing. They are: waking at the same time every morning, exercising every day, and committing to at least one activity per week that’s just for me, for my own inner nourishment.

Every day I’m up at 6:15am. I don’t usually muck around too long. I have a small morning routine, such as telling myself three things I’m grateful for, but I’m out the door pretty quickly. I work in advertising in Hamilton CBD, and it’s really easy to fit some exercise into my day. F45 fitness classes are my favourite. With F45, I can show up, soak up the energy, do the class, and come back to the office. The gym is a short walk from work, and the environment is so good I don’t need to gather up heaps of motivation to get started. It’s something I do try and be quite disciplined around. I do F45 during my lunchtime really often, nearly every day, but on the days I do miss it, I try to get a walk or a jog in during the evening.

My third pillar of routine is doing regular things for my own inner nourishment - which I commit to once a week. I do whatever activity I feel I need to, but my go-to ones are spending time in nature, spending time with friends, baking, taking a trip to the beach, and waking up early to go for a walk and watch a sunrise. My mum and I have a special phrase for this sort of stuff; we say we’re “filling our soul bowl”. Nature is a big one. I know it sounds really ‘hippy’, but I find it’s important to go and be at one with nature, especially without taking my phone. Walking the Pinnacles trail in the Coromandel is a favourite nature getaway of mine.

There’s a saying I like that goes, “Every day the sun rises, and the sun sets. We just complicate the bit that’s in the middle.” I love to watch sunrises and sunsets. I do it often. Dad and I sometimes go for walks early in the morning to watch the sunrise. These little rituals are massive for me. It’s a really peaceful time to stop and reflect, before the world has started up for the day, or after it has quietened down for the evening. I find it all really symbolic. It reminds me that each day comes and goes, and each day is a new day. If I’ve had a bad day, the sun will set on it, and tomorrow morning will be a new sunrise. This goes hand in hand with my mum’s greatest reminder that nothing is ever undoable. I find these are also good moments to acknowledge everything I have that I’m grateful for.

I discovered the power of gratitude when my brother came into my family. When he was 18 years old, Unga became a part of our family; Unga is originally from Tonga. Just by simply being part of my family, he’s taught me some really good lessons. The biggest one is the raw gratitude for living that he has. Whether it’s a trip to the beach, spending time with family, going for a walk or whatever else, Unga has a sincere gratitude for just living and the simple pleasures. I emulate this as much as I can. I like to remind myself every day of things I’m grateful for. I think it’s nice to also use sunrise walks for doing this. Concentrating on a couple of points of gratitude can have such a big effect on how I’m thinking and feeling.

Family time is special time for me. My family are all so supportive and great. My mum and I have a special connection, and same with my dad. Dad and I meet up for coffee three or four times a week when he’s coming past my office. They really make up the core of my close, trusted people. They’re my safe zone, my people I can go to to say anything and feel supported. I think it’s hard to overstate the importance of having good people in my life. The people I associate with make up such a big part of my environment, so it’s important to have each and every one of them being a positive influence.

I’ve learnt that the connections we have with other people have such a massive effect on our headspace - and that if I’m not careful the toxic energy from one really bad connection could easily overshadow the loving, positive, supportive energy from 10 or 20 good connections! I’m glad that I now know the importance of being really deliberate with the close connections I allow into my life, so that my environment is constructive, encouraging, and conducive to being my best self.

One key wellness lesson for me has been the acceptance that sometimes I’m responsible for the bad environments I might find myself in. It’s true that there might be a million other things that contribute to a given situation, but sometimes it just comes down to acknowledging that, at the end of the day, I’ve been the one who allowed my environment to become negative, and so I have to take responsibility for improving it.

I’ve also made the decision to moderate my alcohol consumption, and sometimes to avoid it altogether. I find it helps just to be aware of what it does to my emotions. For me, alcohol doesn’t necessarily guarantee me a good time; it just amplifies whatever feelings I’m already experiencing. So if my friends and I are gearing up for a big night, but I’m feeling emotional or wound up, I probably won’t drink. I know from experience that I probably wouldn’t have a great night, and I’ll feel better the next day if I just stay sober, have a nice time and then call it a night when I’m ready.

I find reading poetry to be cathartic. Good, rich, well-written poetry can make me feel connected to the author, and related to on a deep level. It calms me and stimulates my mind at the same time. It’s like packing a whole lot of emotion densely into just a few lines. There’s so much there to take in on just one page.

Two books that I think make some good comments about wellness are The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, by Mark Manson, and All Blacks Don’t Cry, by John Kirwan. They have lessons that I’ve found really useful for building my own wellness. The other source of content I find great is podcasts. Inspirational podcasts help to get me out of a funk and keep me looking forward. My favourite is Soul Sessions by Oprah Winfrey. It’s all about the simplicity of life, and it often shakes up my thinking in just the right way to give me the dose of inspiration and mental energy I might be needing.

If it was possible to send a note back to yourself when you needed the most help, what would you write?

Danielle experienced depression on and off between the ages of 18 and 23. There were no obvious causes.

How you felt as a result?
Frustrated - lots of overbearing emotions but couldn’t pinpoint their cause.

Did you take prescribed medication?
Yes, for a short time. I had already tried two kinds of natural alternatives, and then a few psychologists but none of it made any sense to me. Medication helped me get moving again.

Were there any triggers that exacerbated your feelings?
A toxic relationship

Was there a turning point when things started to get better?
There was one day where I just couldn’t get out of bed. My dad came into my room and sat on my bed and said: “Look, I think it’s time to get some help, and stop seeing this as a sign of weakness.” That was pivotal for me. Dad had seen my grandmother living with depression her entire life, and so I knew that he knew the signs, and I trusted his opinion.


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