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Inspiring Women
6 Things Ruby Wax Taught Us About Looking After Our Mental Health
Words by GISSELLE BABARAN
Inspiring Women
6 Things Ruby Wax Taught Us About Looking After Our Mental Health
Words by GISSELLE BABARAN

Everyone knows Ruby Wax and everyone who knows her loves her. Because what’s not to love? She’s hilarious, delightfully provocative and has written for some of our most beloved TV shows (including the incredible and raucously funny Absolutely Fabulous). On top of that her credits include but are not limited to stand-up comedian, performer and best-selling author.

Born in the US, ever since she moved to the UK to join the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1978, we’ve pretty much adopted her. Since then she’s rarely been off our stage or screen – working with comedy titans Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders and Tracey Ullman, and interviewing the likes of Imelda Marcos, OJ Simpson and Donald Trump for her incredibly BBC popular chat show Ruby Wax Meets...

In 2013, she gained a master’s degree in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy from Oxford University and was awarded an OBE in 2015 for her services to mental health. Next came her book A Mindfulness Guide For The Frazzled, followed by How To Be Human. We caught up with the one-woman powerhouse to talk well-being and get tips for caring for yourself in a crisis...

Find safe spaces where you can talk openly about your mental health… 

The thing that has kept me going is Frazzled Café, an organisation I founded that provides a "talk-in" spaces where people who are having mental health challenges can meet and share their personal stories in a safe, anonymous and non-judgmental environment. We used to hold these meetings on a fortnightly basis at Marks and Spencer cafés up and down the country, but we have now gone digital. We host video meetings on a daily basis. You can register here.

Some positives might come out of this… 

I’ve noticed how people are really listening to each other now. Through video chatting, we’re taking the time to look into each other's eyes. For me, there’s a real sense of community that I didn’t have before. 

Good news is out there, you just have to find it…

With my new book And Now For The Good News... To The Future With Love, I went around the world to hunt down where the green shoots were growing. I found lots of communities who were already living in ecologically and environmentally conscious ways, and businesses that based their models on the books Conscious Capitalism and Firms Of Endearment. My research for the book reminded me not to lose sight of the good that’s happening, which is hard to do as we’re so rained down on by all the bad news.

Don’t be afraid to fail (as long as you remember to try again)…

I only like people who are failures. That’s another Frazzled Café thing, we love people because of their flaws. In terms of my own experiences with failure, when I got fired from my job after 25 years at the BBC – not fired but I was nudged out – I felt the need to reinvent. I went to study at Oxford and made my dissertation into a show, which I later turned into my book How To Be Human

Take time for yourself… 

Alongside Frazzled Café meetings, I practise mindfulness by meditating every day to keep the negative killer thoughts at bay. For those who want to adopt more mindfulness into their own lives, A Mindfulness Guide For The Frazzled is a good place to start. Otherwise, seek advice or read the words of other experts in the field as there is no quick fix to being more mindful – it’s something you have to consistently practise. 

What you should and shouldn't say to people with depression…

If you don’t know what to say, just tell them you love them. Don’t say "perk up". If someone does have depression you could say, "How’s the depression today?" That way you acknowledge that they really have something, not just some fantasy. Part of the reason why I like to be with other depressives is that we can talk about depression for a long time. My advice is just be with them. Being present is a good start.

Don’t be afraid to fail (as long as you remember to try again)… I only like people who are failures. That’s another Frazzled Café thing, we love people because of their flaws. In terms of my own experiences with failure, when I got fired from my job after 25 years at the BBC – not fired but I was nudged out – I felt the need to reinvent. I went to study at Oxford and made my dissertation into a show, which I later turned into my book How To Be Human

Take time for yourself… 

Alongside Frazzled Café meetings, I practise mindfulness by meditating every day to keep the negative killer thoughts at bay. For those who want to adopt more mindfulness into their own lives, A Mindfulness Guide For The Frazzled is a good place to start. Otherwise, seek advice or read the words of other experts in the field as there is no quick fix to being more mindful – it’s something you have to consistently practise. 

What you should and shouldn't say to people with depression…

If you don’t know what to say, just tell them you love them. Don’t say "perk up". If someone does have depression you could say, "How’s the depression today?" That way you acknowledge that they really have something, not just some fantasy. Part of the reason why I like to be with other depressives is that we can talk about depression for a long time. My advice is just be with them. Being present is a good start.

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