Hyde’s Mental Health Care Challenge

Writers: Kate Reynolds and Chloe Watson

Graphics: Sarah Sordelli

Hyde contributors Chloe Watson and Kate Reynolds participated in our first seven day mental health care challenge. The aim of the challenge was to do one thing each day to nurture their mental health. Find out how they fared.


Kate Reynolds’ week:

Day 1: Stretch first thing in the morning.

The idea of setting my alarm earlier than I have to makes my heart plummet through my shoes — setting it to do exercise, especially in winter, even more so. I decided to get up just a little bit earlier to stretch to start my day. I try and do yoga every day, but never first thing in the morning, and boy-oh-boy, what a waste! I spent twenty minutes doing gentle yoga to wake my body up, and it just sent off a ripple effect of positive energy for the day. It felt good.


Day 2: No screen time before bed.

There’s a meme that has a girl on her laptop, and the caption says ‘time for bed’, and she promptly lies down with her face glued to her phone. This is me. I am a living meme. I struggle to switch off from social media/Netflix, especially before bed, and my sleep suffers; therefore my mood/productivity/stress suffers. I decided to change up my bedtime routine: charged my phone on other side of room; shower; peppermint tea; paint my toenails; started reading a book instead of a screen and resisted all urges to check Instagram for French bulldog photos, or posts about my new awesome bedtime routine. The aim was to give myself at least an hour of screen-free time before going to bed. I slept heaps better.


Day 3: Eat intuitively.

Food stresses me out so much a lot of the time — First world problem, I know. But what with so much conflicting information out there; the rise and rise of ‘clean eating’, ‘fitspo’ and the demonization of sugar, butter being bad for you, then good for you, carbs being the enemy, no wait, carbs are great! No wait, they’re not! Don’t have dairy! You need dairy! Here, eat a chia pudding. It’s bloody exhausting! Instead of thinking too much about food, I decided to listen to what my body was telling me. I ate when I was hungry. I drank lots of water when I was thirsty. If something had sugar in it, I didn’t obsess about how much exercise I’d need to do to work it off. Mainly, I tried really hard to not feel guilty. I just enjoyed my food, ate heaps of fruit and veggies and felt grateful to even have the option being able to eat food.


Day 4: Practice gratitude.

Yesterday’s food experiment had me thinking about gratitude. I’ve always been a believer that being ‘grateful’ is more important than being ‘happy’, but it’s hard to put into practice sometimes. Today was about being mindful about gratitude. I am grateful for the food I have. I am grateful for the sea-view that I am able to wake up to every morning. I am grateful for this day, and the possibilities it presents.

“I admire the way they live their life as though it is a privilege, and not a right”

—The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel


Day 5: Sweat.

Nothing says ‘feel good’ like a mad rush of endorphins after a sweaty bout of exercise. Today I made sure I did something that got my heart-rate pumping and my body dripping in sweat that didn’t involve jogging. I put on a killer playlist and danced like a mad thing in my room until I was out of breath, and then did it again … and again. This might be my permanent new workout.


Day 6: Connect with people.

Sometimes alone time is really good when you’re stressed
or feeling low. But being social and connecting with friends is important. I called my grandmother and thanked her for sending me a parcel of socks; called my Mum to see how her dogs were doing; touched base with a friend who’s having a rough time with her girlfriend, and made plans to have a drink with a friend when I was visiting home in a fortnight. Socialising success!


Day 7: Cut down the caffeine.

I was not enthusiastic about trying this. Coffee is my life-source. I spend more on coffee than I do on rent. I have at least seven coffee cards in my purse with an alarmingly high number of stamps on each. I thought maybe cutting down on the old caffeine might help reduce stress. I had a headache at midday. Whoops, there’s the clear-cut sign that I’m addicted. I fixed this by buying a coffee. And I bloody enjoyed it! Coffee is more valuable to me than cutting it out. Jury’s out on this one, the coffee can stay … for now.


Kate studied a Bachelor in Creative Arts at VU Footscray Park.


Chloe Watson’s week of doing good things for her mind.

Day 1: Friday

About a year ago, I promised myself that I would no longer purchase any item of clothing that I thought I could sew myself. Surprisingly, I’ve stuck to that promise! The only downfall is finding the time to sew. Today I had an empty day and picked up a dress that was half-done and I finished it! There’s nothing like sewing that last hem and adding your home-made dress to your wardrobe!


Day 2: Saturday

Today was an easy day. My partner has footy on Saturdays, so I tend to spend Saturdays at home in my PJs finishing up any house-related tasks, as slowly as humanly possible. It’s surprisingly cathartic and enjoyable. I also re-alphabetised my cd and vinyl collection — another surprisingly cathartic task.


Day 3: Sunday

Today was an afternoon spent running around Fitzroy chasing Pokémon with my sister. Judge if you will (we weren’t the only ones doing it!), but we will be Pokémon Masters one day! We’re both big readers so we visited my beloved Brunswick Street Bookstore and marvelled over there floor to ceiling shelves. Our afternoon ended by picking a place to eat based on looks rather than menu options. This resulted in eating a chili based salad and discussing the burning-cum-numbing enjoyment of fresh chili and watching my sister’s first encounter with soft-shell crab, and how, when deep-fried, it resembles Alien.


Day 4: Monday

Today I was just a big sister. In the early hours of the morning, my sister found out a friend had passed away in a car accident. This was her first experience with death. I dropped everything I had planned that day and we spent the day together in bed
binge-watching Rizzoli and Isles and eating copious amounts of potato chips with intervals of napping and tears.


Day 5: Tuesday

Today was a continuation of Monday, but with an added distraction. My sister and I ventured outside and bought a copy of Sims 4 for a lengthy escape from reality. We’re pro house designers, by the way.


Day 6: Wednesday

Today I did something I hadn’t done for a while; I put together (for myself) a mix cd for the car — fifty songs of beautiful play listed music, with heavy features from my beloved Placebo and Radiohead. My ears thanked me.


Day 7: Thursday

Today was a work heavy, intense day. But that was okay, because in the evening I went to see The Cure perform live with my Dad! The Cure is my Dad’s life-long-love-affair favourite band. I’ve had their music plugged into me like an IV drip for as long as I can remember and as a result, I love them just as much as him. Three hours of flippin’ brilliant music, being a good daughter and reminding my Dad how old some of their music was (just so he could remember how old he is, mwah) and a wicked happy smile on my Dad’s face.


Chloe is currently studying a Bachelor of Creative Arts Honours at VU Footscray Park.


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