"The biggest thing you can do for your own health and wellbeing is to practice a real deep sense of kindness." – Helen Duyvestyn
Meet Helen Duyvestyn. With an advanced diploma in nursing, a master's degree in health science and an impressive array of certifications, Helen joined the BePure team with over 20 years of nursing experience. 15 of these years were spent in the mental health and psychiatry arena.
With an incredibly warm and positive outlook on life, Helen is our expert when it comes to mental health and mindful wellness and her passion is the physiological aspect of health.
Thanks to the constant stress and hustle of everyday life, too often we rush through the things that bring us joy, white-knuckling our way through strict diets and exercise regimes thinking this will bring us 'happiness' or success.
In this blog, Helen shares why she left the world of medicine to pursue the BePure science and holistic approach to health, what each and every one of us can do to make ourselves happier and walks us through her daily mindfulness practice.
After over 20 years of working as a nurse what brought you to BePure?
After working in mainstream mental health for such a long time I was becoming incredibly frustrated with the lack of the attention paid to nutrition, lifestyle and dietary components in the treatment of mental illnesses. As time went on I wanted to do more and help people improve their mental health - not just overcome an illness.
"As time went on I wanted to do more and help people improve their mental health - not just overcome an illness."
I started studying everything I could get my hands on and opened my own practice. Several months ago I contacted BePure to find out more about their philosophy. After a (very long) conversation with Ben, I am now part of the incredible team here at the Auckland BePure Clinic.
What's your favourite part of working at the BePure Clinic?
At the Clinic our day starts with a morning meeting and this is my favourite part of the BePure Clinic model. During this time all of our consultants have an open discussion session to share ideas, research and any concerns our clients are facing.
"For our clients this means that even if they’re seeing one of our consultants they have access to the knowledge of our collective team."
For our clients this means that even if they’re seeing one of our consultants they have access to the knowledge of our collective team.
What has been a standout moment for you at the Auckland Clinic?
Having the opportunity to work with so many amazing people and help improve their energy and general outlook on life is always very rewarding.
As a standout moment, I've recently had two clients with chronic anxiety. Over the past month we've changed their diets and started them on our BePure nutritional support. Within this small span of time, both of them have found that their anxiety has dissipated.
"Nutritional balance within the body is so important – whether this means removing the wrong foods or giving your body the adequate levels of essential vitamins and minerals needed for optimal health."
This has changed their quality of their life and it continues to reinforce for me the importance of nutritional balance within your body – whether this means removing the wrong foods or giving your body the adequate levels of essential vitamins and minerals needed for optimal health.
When it comes to mental wellbeing what is your best advice?
The biggest thing you can do for your own health and wellbeing is to practice a real deep sense of kindness – toward yourself. This has the power to shape your thoughts and attitudes and can alter the way you see and value yourself.
"The biggest thing you can do for your own health and wellbeing is to practice a real deep sense of kindness – toward yourself."
Some of the changes we ask clients can initially seem like massive sacrifices. Rather than forcing yourself to make these lifestyle changes right away and telling yourself you "I have to do it," try viewing it as an act of kindness to yourself instead. Each day try replacing "I should" or "I must," with "I choose to." Doing this completely changes your mindset and approach and my clients that do this has the great success.
What has been the best piece of advice someone has given you?
"What is stopping you from doing what you want to do?” This advice was given to me by Ellis Emmett at his TEDxChristchurch talk and as you can imagine, there usually isn't a very good answer to this!
What is your daily mindfulness practice?
Each morning I have a 35-minute commute on the ferry. This is a fantastic time to relax and mindfully reflecting on my upcoming day. My favourite mindfulness technique is focusing on my breath. It’s just a simple practice that can be done anywhere.
"The essence of mindfulness or meditation is to consciously bring your mind back to the breath and to the present moment."
Try sitting still, eyes open or shut, and observe your breath. You don't need to change it but rather pay attention to it. You'll find that your thoughts will wander, but the essence of mindfulness or meditation is to consciously bring your mind back to the breath and to the present moment.
What's your favourite BePure Principle?
"Cook once, eat twice."
Cook once, eat twice. Lunches are something that I’ve struggled with in the past and many of my clients struggle with too. They can be especially tricky when you are adjusting to a new lifestyle change.
I recommend that when you cook your dinner, make an extra portion. You can either freeze this or take it for lunch the next day. This is especially easy in the winter as you can pop stews or soups in a thermos or heat them up at work.
What is something that anyone looking to improve their mental wellbeing can do?
Practicing gratitude. For this you’ll need a notepad and pen and each day simply jot down three things that you’re grateful for. This technique is particularly good if you catch yourself in a negative frame of mind or you’re just having a bad day.
These moments of gratitude can be as small as you like, such as, “I got a chance to spend 5 minutes outside in the sun today” or “I’m grateful that the traffic wasn’t quite as bad coming home this evening.” It can even be a positive hidden inside a negative, for example, “Even though my car broke down today I’m grateful for the lovely person that pulled over to help me.”
Reflecting on these moments can help you re-frame what you'd otherwise view as a typical day. I recommend doing this at night before bed, however you can do it at any time of the day that works for you.
What's your go-to treat?
Growing up we always had homemade toasted muesli and I've been making it for myself ever since.
It’s easy and a great way to combine all my favourite nutrient dense foods: nuts, raw honey, seeds, coconut, cacao nibs and dehydrated fruit. The
cacao nibs give the muesli a delicious, crunchy taste.
In the winter I like to serve this with warm milk (of your choice), yoghurt and fruit. It's a lovely warm way to start the day.
Helen's Superfood Toasted Muesli
- 750gms whole organic rolled oats
- 1 heaped tbsp coconut oil
- 1 heaped tbsp raw honey
- 2 cups of your favourite nuts and seeds roughly chopped (sunflower seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, almonds, walnuts, cashews, linseed etc).
- 1/2 cups coconut ribbon
- 1 cup of dried fruit such as apple, apricot, raisins, sultanas (organic or homemade dehydrated fruit if possible)
- 1/2 cups cacao nibs
- 1 - 2 tsp cinnamon
Note: portions can be adjusted to suit requirements or taste preference
- In an electric frying pan on the lowest possible heat, gently melt the coconut oil and honey.
- Add the oats and stir this very regularly so that the oats are coated in the oil and honey mixture. Let this 'toast' on a very low heat stirring regularly for about 10 minutes (be careful not to burn!)
- Add the nuts and seeds, once again allowing these to toast gently for another ten minutes or so, stirring regularly to prevent sticking or burning
- Add the coconut and toast for five minutes.
- Add the dried fruit and toast another five minutes.
- Turning off the heat, sprinkle in the cacao nibs and cinnamon to taste. The cacao nibs gives the muesli a wonderful extra chocolate tasting crunch.
- Cool and store in a glass jar.
If you'd like to make an in-person or Skype appointment with Helen Duyvestyn, or if you have any questions about the BePure Clinic and our Programmes, please feel free to give our support team a call on 0800 52 54 52 or email email@example.com.