Trigger warning – this page contains references to themes of anxiety, depression, and suicide which may trigger unexpected feelings. If you are concerned about your mental health, please reach out to your doctor or through one of the resources listed at the bottom of the article.
We are taught the importance of taking care of our bodies from an early age and living a healthy lifestyle to build a healthy you. But what about the inner you? How important is it to take care of your mental Health? You might even be thinking, “I know it’s important, but I don’t know how to start.” We know this conversation can be hard, particularly for men. Well, we’ve got you covered. We met up with Jordan Doropoulos to talk all things mental health. He dives into his wellness journey as he explains the importance of looking after your mind, being present in the moment, and the importance of igniting mental health conversations with mates. We thought what better time to have this talk than the beginning of Movember.
Firstly, what is Movember? Movember is a charity that aims to change the face of men’s health by funding a variety of men’s health projects and advocating in the community. One of their most popular initiatives is encouraging men to grow out their “stache” for November to raise money to tackle projects such as mental health, suicide and illness.
Now, let’s dive into Jordan’s story…
Tell us a bit about your wellness journey?
I love telling this story. So, my wellness journey started at the age of 15. I was living overseas, and I was playing a high-level sport, and I was struggling. I was struggling with anxiety, the pressure of trials, having to perform, and the coaches… it just was really having an effect on me.
So, my mum introduced me to Louise Hay affirmation tapes, and I’d listen to the affirmation tapes to help reframe my mindset overnight. Then, I started meditating first thing in the morning and this all started to help with my anxiety and the way I was feeling. From there it’s just something I started doing regularly and I’ve continued to do that regularly since the age of 15.
At about the age of 19, I got a soccer injury and then I was like, “OK, I’m going to start doing yoga.” Then I realised, this isn’t just movement but a meditative style of movement that connected my mind, body and breath. I was travelling the world working as an electrician, still doing yoga and meditation daily along with my own personal development and breath work. Arriving back to Perth, I found myself working fifo as an electrician. Being in this environment and realising how important it is to have a healthy mind and body, I continued diving deeper into my own personal development and started studying a range of wellness modalities. This made me really want to step into the wellness and wellbeing industry full-time. I made the transition out of being an electrician in the fifo and construction industry, to running my own wellness company. Teaching yoga, meditation, breathwork, mindfulness coaching and running corporate well-being programs full time.
You talk a bit on your Instagram about mindfulness. What is mindfulness and what does it mean to be mindful?
In general, mindfulness is the state of being present. When we go deeper, it’s how can we be mindful in our lives. How can we become present? Is it by actively listening to someone’s conversation and holding eye contact, not interrupting, and when they speak and allowing them to finish their sentences? Is it being able to be present in your life, your friends or your family? Am I distracting myself or am I being present and observing everything around me?
I had a beautiful experience a week ago where I was walking and I smelt beautiful flowers and, I just stood. Then I realised, wow, this is that saying stop and smell the roses. That is being present and that is the art of mindfulness. ￼
What do you think are the major roadblocks in getting more men to have these discussions?
I think the biggest roadblock is that old stigma of the male must show up and be strong in a sense of, they can’t show weakness. When we think about weakness, we think about vulnerability. So, if you become vulnerable and you’re going to become weak. But it’s actually the opposite. To show vulnerability takes courage. It takes more courage to show vulnerability and to put your hand up when you’re struggling, to be open, and speak about that then it does to remain quiet and be like, hey, I’m just going to hold this in and not let this affect me and still show that I’m OK to the outside world.
I think it’s also the fear of people’s reactions when we open up that is often what holds people back. But when you start to be open and have a more vulnerable conversation, whether it’s to your friends, to the family, or to a therapist, whoever it is, the response you actually get is a lot different than what you might think it’s going to be. More often than not, that person might turn around and be quite vulnerable themselves and open up to you. As humans we all crave connection whether it’s one on one or within a group community, having open and authentic conversations lead to deeper and more meaningful connections.
What can we do to start getting more men to prioritise their mental health and what resources are out there someone who is just beginning their journey?
Start by shifting from the idea “hey, let’s catch up with the mate for a beer” to “hey, let’s catch up for a walk or let’s catch up to do something a bit more active where we can have a conversation.” Mind you, if a beer is going to work for you, a beer is going to work for you. But are there other ways we can get together and start these conversations. Then when you are out try to avoid always having to turn to distractions such as alcohol, our phones, and social media. Ask, “Why am I turning to this distraction? Am I looking towards this to avoid some pain that I’m feeling.” Shift the perspective. When we feel a little bit of pain instead of turning to things that are just going to mask it for a while, ask yourself, can we work through that?
For resources, there are some great (and free) resources in Perth! There’s a new group page called a Men’s Hub WA where people who do men’s work around Perth post what they are doing and as well as spark conversations in the group chats. I have found Chilly Willys are doing incredible work in the way of helping find deeper connections with men, they have a WhatsApp group chat post their Sunday morning fortnightly men’s dip and sip with some connection exercises, as well as their quarterly men’s retreat that’s facilitated down in Bridgetown. Then there is a men’s circle on there as well where men can go to just go open up and talk. Men’s Talk AU are another group who do amazing work within Perth. Then there are great Apps out there such as Insight Timer, Calm and Headspace, where all you have to do is put your headphones in, select different meditations or breathwork sessions and just listen to them in the comfort of your choice.
Do you have any advice on how to support those around us struggling with mental health?
If someone’s struggling with anxiety, with depression, the biggest thing I believe you can do is to just be an active listener. Actively listening is a state of being able to make eye contact and hold space for someone while they speak and then being able to allow them to fully finish their sentence, fully finish what they have to say. Then, mindfully, you’re respond to what they’ve just said in a way that’s going to feel nurturing, supportive and safe for them.
When you’re going through it, sometimes the last thing you want to do is to be able to open up to someone and then just hear them try and tell you or you should just do this, or you should just do that when you’re in that situation for you to just tell me, oh, you should just be able to breathe and just get over the anxiety when it comes up.
I have found from my own personal experience it helps to respond in a way where instead to telling someone you should do this, or you should do that, ask, “Is there something that I can do to help you?” Or, “What can I do to support you?”
Will you be participating in Movember this year? And what does Movember mean to you?
I’ll be supporting through fundraising and donating money through “More than a Run” with lululemon. I had always known of “More than a Run”, but I didn’t know too much about it until I partnered with lululemon and read more about it. They’ve tailored it to represent the men struggling. They’ve got the 10-kilometre run, which is for the 10% of Australian males who experience anxiety disorder, 30-kilometres for the 30 people who attempt suicide every day in Australia, and 60-kilometres for the 60 men we lose to suicide each hour across the globe.