Ashley Tisdale on sharing her 'struggle' with anxiety and depression and practicing self-care as a new mom

Ashley Tisdale opens up about her approach to mental health. (Photo: Getty; designed by Quinn Lemmers)
Ashley Tisdale opens up about her approach to mental health. (Photo: Getty; designed by Quinn Lemmers)

The Unwind is Yahoo Life’s well-being series in which experts, influencers and celebrities share their approaches to wellness and mental health, from self-care rituals to setting healthy boundaries to the mantras that keep them afloat.

"I believe wellness starts with self-love; you have to love yourself to take the steps to feel better," actress, singer and mental health advocate Ashley Tisdale tells Yahoo Life. "Everyone struggles with something and to me, I’m always trying to tell people it’s good to be interested in yourself. You may find out things you may not like — but you’ll find out a lot of things you’ll love. And you’ll learn how to manage the things you don't like!"

Working with a therapist is also important, but remains inaccessible to many. This winter, Tisdale is doing her part to remedy that problem by partnering with Amwell to launch "Mind Your Mind," a new mental health initiative designed to raise awareness and help people schedule their first virtual therapy session for only $10. (Use coupon code ASHLEY10 from December 2021 to February 2022 to get the discount).

Ahead, Tisdale opens up about speaking out about her own mental health, practicing meditation and learning to juggle self-care with a new baby at home.

What’s your approach to mental health?

My approach is meditation — anything that helps me feel good and sets my day up really well.

Because you meditate, do you have a mantra?

I actually don't have a mantra; I totally relate to people who don't think they can't meditate. It’s really just about trying and for me, specifically, I use apps for guided meditation to get into a deeper meditation. I’m a huge fan of 5- or 10-minute guided meditations, or even 20 minutes — which is rare these days with a new baby [laughs].

Tisdale's partnership with Mind Your Mind offers $10 therapy sessions. (Photo: Courtesy of Amwell/Mind Your Mind)
Tisdale's partnership with Mind Your Mind offers $10 therapy sessions. (Photo: Courtesy of Amwell/Mind Your Mind)

Congratulations on becoming a new mom. How are you taking care of yourself these days, and do you have any small self-care rituals that help you reset?

Yes! All the rituals [laughs]! I ground myself by creating rituals that make me feel good every day; I share these mood-changing tips on my blog, Frenshe. Some of it is opening the windows and doors or lighting candles — just letting the energy in the room change.

I think as a mom, it’s important to still take those moments. After the baby goes to sleep, I’ll take a bath and put on my favorite show. You definitely have to take care of yourself in order to take care of others.

What brings you joy?

So many things! Once you become present, really small things bring you joy, versus the big things, so just sitting outside, being surrounded by trees, going for a walk, being with my baby, my dogs, my family — all of that brings me joy.

Video: Ashley Tisdale opens up about breastfeeding struggles

What stresses you out?

I try not to get stressed but work can get stressful. I’m in a moment where I’m trying to figure out the balance of it all. This is so new, being a new mom. Even though I’m working from home, finding the balance of work and still being with her and figuring out schedules... I’ve never had to think about [another person's schedule], so sometimes I get stressed out managing it all, juggling it all.

I’m sure you work around the clock too, which people don’t tend to realize.

With brand deals and blogging, you’re never not doing something [laughs].

Who do you look to for wellness inspiration?

I don't follow a lot of people; that’s part of why I created Frenshe. A couple of years ago, I was facing my anxiety and depression and recorded an album based on my issues [Symptoms]. I felt like no one was talking about [depression] at the time, but I’d lost someone to depression and I felt like it was super-important to start [the conversation]. People speak openly about anxiety, but there’s a stigma around that word [depression]; I think they go hand in hand. ... It’s been my mission to be open about my struggle and what helped me. Growing up in the public eye, I was always setting boundaries but I really do like to [speak up on] my mental health journey. That’s why I was excited to partner with Amwell to offer a $10 online therapy session. A lot of people say they can't afford therapy — and it’s helped me a lot — so I was SO excited when I was asked to do this, especially at this time; so many people are going through so many different things.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

It’s not advice but I’ve always loved it: "You should talk to yourself like you would your best friend." It’s hard to learn; people who have mental health issues often have negative thoughts. Any time we feel we have failed, we tend to beat ourselves up, but if your best friend came to you, you wouldn't say negative things to them. You’d want to cheer them on and be positive. We should cheer ourselves on, too!

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

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