World Mental Health Day: Joe Weeks' advice to parents on how to take care of their mental health

World Mental Health Day: Joe Weeks’ advice to parents on how to take care of their mental health

Currently on paternity leave after the arrival of his young daughter Lenny last month, Joe Weeks is enjoying time with the newcomer (he’s happy to report, “really relaxed and cool”) as well as daughter Indy, four, and son Marley, two.

“I’ve always run school now and then, but I do it five days a week, and I do lunch and breakfast and everything,” he said on a video call from the house he shares with his wife, Rosie and their kids in Surrey.

“I loved being with them. I realized that the more I am around, the better our relationships are, and I notice their behavior improves, because we are more connected.”

The 37-year-old fitness trainer and author, who earned an MBE in March after his PE videos made the nation move during lockdown, is taking a quick break from daddy duties to talk about his latest passion project.

My Journey with Joe Wicks, in collaboration with Lululemon, sees coaching educator and mental health advocate interviewing four celebrities—documentary filmmaker Louis Theroux, boxer Nicola Adams, Dr. Alex George of Love Island and broadcaster Adele Roberts—about how they deal with life’s challenges.

“It took a lot from every conversation,” Weeks says of the series of videos launched in conjunction with World Mental Health Day (October 10), with some common themes emerging. “They all said exercise was one of the most important things for them to help overcome those feelings.”

Reuniting with Theroux (they previously worked on a documentary about Wicks’ childhood and did an exercise video together), learn more about the director’s struggle with anxiety. “You always picture him as a really confident and really amazing investigative journalist, but in fact, he said he also has self-doubt and anxiety and he has to get over that.”

After the pair have become strong friends, they agree in their approach to parenting and work-life balance.

“We both want to have successful careers, but we also really appreciate the importance of being home and being present for our kids and helping raise our kids,” Weeks says. “It was nice to hear from his perspective as a parent with young teenage sons.”

At the same time, the father of three understands the importance of parents taking care of themselves as well as their children, and he has plenty of advice for parents on how to maintain their mental health no matter what stage of parenting they are in…

“Sleep is everything,” Weeks says. “Because with poor sleep and interrupted sleep, it’s very hard to wake up and exercise, it’s very difficult to make good food choices, and you become irritable and fast.”

Although there isn’t much you can do to control your newborn’s waking hours, he says going to bed early has a positive effect: “The quickest way to get a calmer, easier morning is to go to bed early, so wake up fresh, wake up with little of energy.”

Even the fittest parents may not be able to maintain a regular exercise routine when a toddler arrives, but building some movement into your day can be a real stress reliever.

“You may not wake up with the energy to do a proper HIIT session,” Weeks says. “Even if you go for a short walk or do something for half an hour or 20 minutes at home, you relieve that stress and frustration from your body.”

Take as much paternity leave as possible

In addition to helping with all the practical aspects of parenting, be sure to use paternity leave as a time to bond with your child.

“If you can, try to take as much as you can,” Weeks says. “And enjoy that time, because it’s over so quickly, it’s really a nice time to be there in those first weeks.”

With prolonged fatigue, you may find yourself searching for sugary snacks that only lead to another slump after a short energy boost.

“It definitely happens to me too,” Weeks admits, which is why he recommends preparing some nutritious meals in advance so you don’t give in to cravings.

“Try group cooking on the weekend and get ahead of yourself until you get some breakfasts and a little lunch. I make things like overnight oats, bolognese, or chili, french fries and risotto—things you can freeze or keep in the fridge for a few days.” “.

Ask for help when you need it

If you have family or friends around, don’t be shy to ask if they don’t mind babysitting so you can take the time to recharge your batteries.

“Getting a little help now and then, even for just a few hours, is amazing,” Weeks says. “Because it means [Rosie and I] We can spend the afternoon to ourselves, and we can take a little nap if we want to, or we can go for a little lunch just to get some fresh air.”

Wicks has a WhatsApp group called Daddy Gang where he chats with his daddy friends and exchange parenting tips.

Ultimately, however, he realizes that everyone is on their own journey and that trusting your instincts is often the best option: “Every child is different, so there is no better advice than just dropping out and continuing to really do your best.”

Lululemon is teaming up with Ambassador Joe Wicks on World Mental Health Day to launch a 4-part series: My Journey With Joe Wicks. Find the series on The Body Coach TV YouTube channel.

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