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Mindful : June 2018
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Kelle Walsh is a contributing editor to Mindful and is based in Colorado. Mindful: It may surprise people that even though you’ve had a successful career as a model, you’ve struggled with self-confidence. How is that pos- sible? Alison Canavan: I never, ever looked after myself. I never valued myself enough. It’s interesting that you go into an industry to be seen—that’s one thing we all have in common: We all want to be seen, to be validated. However, as a model, you don’t have a voice. You’re “just a model.” In Minding Mum you write, “I have finally learned to like myself, hell, even love myself... Giving myself permis- sion to do this has made a remarkable difference in my recovery from depres- sion and anxiety.” Can you speak a bit about self-compassion and the role it’s played in helping you get to where you are today? “Self-compassion” is something I really struggled with. When you start being kind to yourself, it can be uncomfortable. I had never really lis- “Until we start being truthful with ourselves and with everyone around us, we’re not going to heal.” “James was the catalyst, because Iwantedtobea better mom.” As the years wore on, her “lows got lower,” she recalls. She began relying on Xanax “just to leave the house and get on the subway,” and took Valium to sleep. “Whenever I felt an emo- tion, I swallowed it with a pill,” she says. A few months after a painful breakup— one that found her returning to Dublin and the comfort of family—she learned she was pregnant. The news finally motivated her to get sober. Soon after she gave birth to James in 2010, though, she fell into a deep postpar- tum depression. At one point, she was in such a bad state she wasn’t allowed to be alone with the baby. Her doctors wanted to pre- scribe more drugs, she says, but she resisted because she was breastfeeding. “It wasn’t just about me anymore,” she says. “I had James to think about.” Over the next few years, she committed to her physical, mental, and emotional health, studied nutrition, and made meditation a daily habit. Her best-selling book, Minding Mum, is the result: In it, she explores what self-care really means when you’re a mother, and what she’s discovered about finding health—of both body and mind. Mindful spoke with Alison about her jour- ney and what it took to get where she is today. MINDING MUM It’s Time to Take Care of You By Alison Canavan In this “new mum’s guide to feeling great inside and out,” Ali- son shares what early motherhood is really like: being home with baby, postpartum depression, nutri- tional needs, body image, exercise post-pregnancy—and how to feel great in this new reality. alisoncanavan.com 38 mindful June 2018 the mindful interview