Celebrity Health – Andrea McLean

Image of Andrea McLean by Nicky Johnston

Loose Women presenter Andrea McLean chats to Liz Parry about how she maintains a healthy body and mind

TV and radio broadcaster Andrea McLean can regularly be seen on our screens as one of the presenters of the ITV chat show Loose Women. Scottish-born Andrea has enjoyed a 26-year career in broadcasting and is also a best-selling author as well as the co-founder of the female empowerment site www.thisgirlisonfire.com. Her latest book, This Girl is on Fire, is a guide to overcoming past trauma and living the life you want.

Q In your new book you talk candidly about the breakdown you suffered and your battles with anxiety. You also include plenty of self-help exercises too. Are these based on the things that helped you through your own difficulties?

Andrea: Yes, it’s a mixture of lessons that I’ve learned through other people, through different kinds of therapy or books that I’ve read. We all go through hard times and hopefully I can pass on some tips about the things that have worked for me. I’m paying it forward. The way I see it is that the internet is awash with all kinds of information and it’s not so much ‘I don’t know where to go for information’, it’s ‘I don’t know where to start’. So, I decided to put everything together in a book using my personal experience as the key. Every time I write a book I write it for one person; I never think of lots and lots of people reading it. I always imagine that I’m having a conversation with one person sitting opposite me and I write as if I would talk. I like the idea of someone holding it in their hands, and it’s as if we’re having a conversation together.

Q You mention that in addition to therapy and CBT you also tried energy healing. Did this help alongside the conventional therapies?

Andrea: Yes, 100 per cent. I know that it sounds a bit ‘woo woo’ but, to me, it’s actually quite logical because your body is made up of energy. I believe that your physical health and your mental health can cause blockages in the body where you hold on to stress for such a long time. I was recommended this lovely woman called Marie Reynolds who is an energy healer and she really helped me.

Q Do you think that there is a link between emotional or mental stress and physical illness?

Andrea: Yes, I definitely think there is a link between the two. And what’s so great is that now more and more health practitioners are talking about mind–body wellness rather than seeing the two as separate things. For me, when I’ve gone through periods of intense stress or upset or trauma, it’s always manifested itself physically in some way. I’ve had three different bouts of what the doctors called ‘a shingles-like virus’, I’ve got Raynaud syndrome and I’ve got vasculitis which is inflammation of the blood vessels. I know it has come from suppressing stress and holding everything in. So, I need to learn to let things go because otherwise I’m making myself ill.

Q Do you like to take a holistic approach to your health?

Andrea: Yes, I think so. I try to make sure that I eat really well so that I’m giving my body what it needs. But at the same time, I had a full hysterectomy four years ago, so I take HRT. But my HRT is made from yams, so it’s coming from a natural source. I take it every day to boost my oestrogen. If I needed medical intervention I would take it, but I also think that we need to look after ourselves in every possible way.

Q What kinds of foods do you eat on a regular basis?

Andrea: I start every day with a smoothie that I make myself. I throw in a green apple, a handful of almonds, some frozen spinach, some blueberries, a bit of apple juice and a little bit of almond milk. I also put in some flax seeds with some super greens powder and a bit of cinnamon. I have that pretty much most days and it fills me up so I don’t need anything until late morning. I have sourdough rather than normal bread as it just works better for me. I eat a lot of eggs so I might have poached eggs or an omelette for lunch. I also have a lot of chicken or fish and steamed veg or stir fries. I eat a lot of nuts as snacks and I drink lots of water. I only have one cup of coffee a day. I used to like a lot of it but I think that if you have too much it can make you a little bit jittery. I think with everything the world is going through right now, the last thing you need is something that makes you jittery!

Q Do you take any particular vitamins or supplements?

Andrea: Yes, I use a vitamin D oral spray and have been using it for about a year. I just believe that most of us are vitamin D deficient. I’ve given it to the whole family so everybody’s got these little sprays in the bathroom now and I keep pestering the kids to use them.

You have a few sprays under the tongue, and just let it sit there for a bit. I also take vitamin C capsules, fish oil capsules and a supplement that supports brain health and mood. It helps me to feel more energised. I’ve just got to know myself over the years and I know that I am a highly sensitive person. I’ve accepted it now rather than thinking that there’s something wrong with me. I almost feel like I operate on a different frequency to everyone else. I feel things really deeply and I think deeply and take things to heart. So I know that I need to keep a healthy mindset and I take things to boost my brain and my mood.

Q What do you do to relax and chill out?

Andrea: I really enjoy meditating. I bought a Do Not Disturb sign before lockdown that says, “Quiet please. I’m meditating,” and told the whole family that if it’s on the door to not come in. I also find gardening really relaxing.

I can put an audio book on, get to work tending to the plants, and totally lose myself.

Q Do you enjoy exercise?

Andrea: Yes I do, although I’m not as good as I used to be. I’ve fallen off the fitness wagon a little bit. I enjoy being fit and I enjoy being well. I tried all sorts of different things during the lockdown and in the end I went back to what I enjoy, which is weights and yoga. I really tried during lockdown to do what everyone else was doing, like joining in on the aerobics videos. But I just can’t do it because my brain doesn’t work that way and I’d go left when everyone else was going right. I ended up getting so stressed! So, I’ve gone back to what I enjoy.

Q Did you use any particular techniques for managing your anxiety during the lockdown period?

Andrea: I think I went through the same sort of emotions that the whole planet went through. When it first happened there was panic and fear. Then, as a mum, I went into protection mode. Then you get into a routine and you find what works and it seems to tick along all right. But then there’s this dawning realisation of when will this actually be finished? We are absolutely underestimating the mental toll this is taking on us, going through this experience. If some days it all feels a bit much, just stop and go for a walk, listen to some music or just do something else. You can’t be expected to behave in a ‘normal’ way when life is not ‘normal’. Be kind to yourself and do what you need to get through it.

This Girl is on Fire by Andrea McLean is published by Hay House Publishers and priced at £12.99. To find out more, visit www.thisgirlisonfire.com.

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