In this podcast (episode # 441) and blog, I talk to former Miss Universe and former Miss South Africa Demi Leigh Tebow about managing mental health as a public figure, how to develop sustainable self-confidence in the age of social media, the importance of teaching women to defend themselves, and so much more!
Demi-Leigh is originally from a small town in the Western Cape in South Africa. She won Miss South Africa in 2017 and Miss Universe later that same year. In 2018, she met her now-husband Tim Tebow, and together they run the Tim Tebow Foundation for vulnerable communities and human trafficking victims. Demi is also passionate about sharing her own journey with others, and has dedicated her life to encouraging people to live with unbreakable passion and purpose through her work as a speaker and entrepreneur.
Of course, being in the public eye for so long can put a strain on anyone’s mental health. Thankfully, Demi’s stepmom is a psychologist, and she taught Demi from youth about the importance of setting healthy boundaries, which has helped her manage her wellbeing despite being in the public eye.
Boundaries are especially important for women, who are often told from a young age that when they express how they feel,they are being “too emotional” or are “over-exaggerating”. Indeed, many women are taught to put other people’s feelings before their own and to “nurture” others, which can lead to emotional burnout and other mental health issues.
Healthy boundaries should be a part of every person’s self-care toolkit. They are not selfish or mean, and they do not make us less compassionate. In fact, they give us the capacity to truly connect with others on a deeper level by creating space around an issue, and not allowing it to get any bigger and take over our mental health. This allows us to gain perspective, which then enables us to get to the root cause of the issue and work on managing and reconceptualizing it through self-regulation and mind management.
Another important tool in Demi’s mental self-care toolkit is community. When we are isolated and alone, it is easy to feel emotionally vulnerable and distressed. Indeed, the more removed we become from human connection, the more potential there is for us to turn to the fantasy world as a replacement to reality, rather than using our imagination as a tool to create successful, and satisfying, lives. This often leads to long-term social isolation that can dramatically affect our mental and physical health, making us more vulnerable to disease and reducing our lifespan.
When we are surrounded by people that love and care for us, however, we can find healing and acceptance. Research shows that engaging positively with people in our social support network correlates with a number of desirable physical and mental health outcomes, including cognitive resilience, reduction of chronic pain, lower blood pressure, and improved cardiovascular health.
Community is truly powerful! When we are surrounded by family and friends who care enough to notice when we are struggling, listen to us, and encourage us to find solutions to the problems we face, we tend to have more hope and better mental and physical wellbeing. Serving others is also a wonderful way to become part of a meaningful community, improving both mental and physical health outcomes; studies show helping others can increase our own chance of healing!
For more on Demi’s story and work, listen to my podcast episode (episode #441). If you enjoy listening to my podcast, please consider leaving a 5-star review and subscribing. And keep sharing episodes with friends and family and on social media. (Don’t forget to tag me so I can see your posts!).
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4:27 Demi’s amazing story
9:25 Managing your mental health as a public figure
11:00 The importance of setting healthy boundaries
12:40, 15:22 The healing power of community
21:20 How helping others can improve our mental health
35:00 How Demi survived a violent attack & what that taught her about the important of teaching women self-defense
43:20 Demi’s amazing work helping vulnerable communities
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