In partnership with JAG
Helena Vestergaard is an open book. The model and mother is raw and transparent about her past struggles with mental health, and is now an advocate for honesty and awareness in this space.
A proud mum to two children, she says parenthood fulfils her in a way she never thought possible. She feels stronger, wiser and and has more respect for herself and her happiness. A self-confessed "nature enthusiast" who "looooves living by the beach", Vestergaard is at her most stable when she embraces the chaos that comes from parenthood.
Below, as she stands dressed in top-to-toe JAG, she talks about her own childhood and the advice on mental wellbeing she plans to share with her kids as they grow up.
What’s the first thing we should know about you?
I’m a busy bee. I find it hard to sit still I’m constantly moving around trying to do all the things.
Tell us about your life growing up?
I grew up in Australia but we travelled to South Africa and Denmark a lot as kids as that’s where our parents are from. My sister and I became very good at using our imaginations (this is before phones and iPads) we would make up songs and games to get us through all the long hours in cars and planes.
Tell us about your life living by the beach. What do you do for fun?
I loooove living by the beach. We surf and swim, play in the sand and collect drift wood to make things out of. A huge log washed up on the beach the other day and I made my husband and mother carry it up the cliff with me so we can make it into bedside tables hehe.
How did parenthood change you as a person?
For me I just feel like I found a new purpose that completely fulfils me in a way I never thought was possible. I feel stronger, wiser, less vain, I have way more respect for myself and my values have shifted to more important things like health and happiness!
Is parenthood something that empowers you?
I think it can for sure. But being a parent is really hard though, I think people see this trend of models/celebs having babies at the moment and think they are a cool accessory or feel the need to do the same but they don’t actually realise that having a child is a HUGE DEAL and unless you have enough money for three nannies and a house keeper it’s a full time thing that completely takes over your life as you know it. But if you embrace the chaos and know you are in a stable time on your life it’s the best thing you’ll ever do. It empowers you in a way that you feel comfortable in being selfless.
Is parenthood something that has enhanced your creativity? Do you feel you feel more creative?
Again I think it depends, when you have a newborn all your attention and time is taken by the baby, most of the time you are so tired from not sleeping that there is little brain activity or energy left for being creative. I think when they get a bit older though it shifts again and I found I wanted to do all sorts of new things like get crafty and paint and make music I even started sewing clothes and bed sheets for them and trying to make toys out of wood lol! I definitely felt new inspiration new energy.
How do you find balance and wellness for yourself as a parent? Is this possible?
It’s a tough one because you have to really set aside time for yourself to do this but I think it’s really important. Sometimes I get the parent guilt or I feel like I’m being selfish but I have to remind myself that taking a moment will make me more patient and a better Mother, For instance I try to do yoga or Pilates every second day just so I have that hour to myself. I love a good skincare routine too so I try to do a little something in the beauty realm after I put them to bed.
JAG top; SARAH & SEBASTIAN ring (worn throughout).
When your children are grown, what advice will you give them on wellness, balance and mental health?
I expose them to environmental issues, yoga and mindfulness all the time, I think it’s nice to plant the seed early but not force anything on them as we all know we tried to do the opposite of what our parents were doing.
So for me I’m going to gently teach and guide them with the best of my knowledge and experiences and hope that they can be wise enough to make some good decisions for themselves.
I think as parents it’s up to us to educate them on all the things that matter and hope they have some thick skin too!
How has your relationship with health and the world around you changed since becoming a parent?
My relationship with health has changed so much, I use to smoke and drink everyday, I had a pretty bad eating disorder as well that led me to really bad depression at times. I’m far more conscious of things that trigger me now as I have to care for two little humans that need me pretty much every second of the day, I had to really pull my socks up and clean myself up. I feel the best I’ve ever felt in my life mentally and physically. The world around is a pretty fucked up place so it’s hard to not get anxious about them growing up in it but again I think as parents it’s up to us to educate them on all the things that matter and hope they have some thick skin too!
When you need time and space for yourself, how do you wind down?
I love reading. My favourite wind down is to snuggle on the couch and read a good crime novel. Or my partner and I love a good documentary after we put the kids to bed if we are not too exhausted (we both usually end up falling asleep on the couch)
What do you wish more people knew about mental health and wellness?
I wish more people knew how consuming it can be. I found it really hard to find balance with my mental health and wellness, you can go too far both ways. I wish people new how bad social media can be for mental health. That’s a big topic that we all need to keep addressing. But I do feel like slowly people are becoming much more aware and alert to their triggers. Instagram can be the worst kind of worm hole that sucks you in then leaves you feeling deflated and depressed. And wellness can become obsessive and also lead to anxiety so everything needs to be used in moderation.. “wellness” is thrown around so much these days I think people get put off by it or are not sure how to use it. For me it’s balance, it’s filtering out things and using the things that you can relate with personally, taking care of yourself in a way that’s healthy for you.
PHOTOGRAPHY Ellen Virgona
FASHION & DIRECTION Charlotte Agnew
HAIR & MAKEUP Isabella Schimid @ Assembly Agency
FASHION ASSIST India Stibilj
ALL CLOTHING Jag
JEWELLERY Sarah & Sebastian
UNDERWEAR Bonds & Arc