Welldoing's Louise Chunn shares her 7 Secrets of Wellbeing
We're full of admiration for Louise Chunn, former Editor of Psychologies (not to mention Good Housekeeping and InStyle, among other journalistic cleverness).
Four years ago, Louise – now 61 – set up the brilliant welldoing.org, which matches people with the best therapists for them, and in addition is a highly authoritative mental health and wellbeing resource.
Married for the second time (to journalist Andrew Anthony), Louise has three children aged 17-31, who better to ask how she 'keeps it all together'? We all need role models, for that – and as far as we're concerned, Louise's is a true blueprint for balance.
1. I start most mornings walking our terrier cross, Romy. We got her about four years ago and - rather like a baby - she has changed my life. The best thing is the way she requires me to get out of my chair and walk her. I don’t always love it, but it’s definitely a boon or I’d be sitting all day. Sometimes I meet friends on my dog walking WhatsApp group, other times I relish the peace as I walk in the park, quite often I listen to podcasts.
2. I am a big Pilates fan. I do other things – such as play a weekly tennis game in the local park with (former Vogue editor) Alexandra Shulman — but in the last year I’ve really noticed the benefits of Pilates. I go to NY Pilates in Queen’s Park. So far, I’m doing mat classes only, but I am building up to using the equipment.
3. I am very aware of avoiding stress. It’s often pretty tough to cover all the bases that I might want to — I still have one child at school, my mother is in her late 80s and living in New Zealand, my eldest daughter is getting married, I want my marriage to be robust and connected, I want to go to the movies, read books, visit art galleries, travel the world – at the same time as heading a startup and now editing a magazine. I do believe you have a prioritise your own mental health. I’m not saying I’d break down if I tried to do everything, but I think the better way is to move at the pace that works for you, and not try to cross every last thing off your to-do list every day. And anyway, some problems look very different once you’ve studied them for a while; taking time can be an advantage.
4. Talking about your troubles to someone you trust can really help keep you sane. Sometimes this has meant seeing a therapist — it’s where the original idea of welldoing.org came from, my own difficulty in finding the right therapist for me. I don’t see anyone right now, but I do still talk, but these days it’s to my partner and my friends, mostly women. Some are very long-standing — we were at school together, so we’ve known each other nearly 50 years — but others are freshly-minted and come from my new life as a tech entrepreneur, or the recently started book group in my area.
5. I love a pedicure. It looks good, and it feels even better — I adore all massage, but particularly enjoy having my feet massaged. If I had all the time and money in the world, Number 5 would actually say, I love going to a spa, where I love almost everything that can be done for and to you — the nutritional regime, the facials, body scrubs, weight analysis. Wonderful! My last two such experiences were both in Italy — Lefay and L’Albereta. Take me back there any time.
6. Daily showers are great, but when I need to look after myself I do crave the deep relaxation of a bath. I will have it in the evening, rather than late at night, and the ritual involves candles and various ingredients; at the moment I am using Mauli Himalayan Healing Salts and anything Aesop. I tend to read a book when in the bath, but nothing to do with work or self-improvement. I range pretty widely in fiction. The last two baths’ books were Force of Nature, an Australian-set thriller by Jane Harper and The Song of Achilles by Madeleine Miller. I loved them both.
7. Mindfulness can be very useful. I am not an expert, but I do have the Calm app and I use it pretty frequently. It tends to be a 10 minute session, though I’ve also listened to some of the masterclasses, which I thought were excellent. I am thrilled that Michael Acton Smith, one of the founders of Calm, offered all the welldoing.org therapist members a year’s free premium subscription to the app, plus anyone who books to see a client on our site is offered a two month trial. The more people who try mindfulness, the better, I believe. It helps break people out of endless anxiety about their past and their future, and live just where they should be — in the present.