Whitney Port talks mental health, motherhood and dealing with miscarriage: 'It is such an isolating thing'

Whitney Port talks giving back, mental health and being a mom. (Photo: Getty Images; designed by Quinn Lemmers)
Whitney Port talks giving back, mental health and being a mom. (Photo: Getty Images; designed by Quinn Lemmers)

The Unwind is Yahoo Life’s well-being series in which experts, influencers and celebrities share their approaches to wellness and mental health, from self-care rituals to setting healthy boundaries to the mantras that keep them afloat.

As a reality star during the early 2000s, The Hills alum Whitney Port has been through her fair share of drama. Now, as an entrepreneur, fashion designer and influencer, author and mom to a 3-year-old son, Port is finding herself on steadier ground by putting her and her family's well-being at the forefront.

“As basic as it sounds, to me, wellness is feeling mentally, emotionally and physically peaceful,” the former reality star tells Yahoo Life. “It's making sure that you have some sort of balance between what you do for a living, your family and yourself. Don’t get me wrong, it's very hard to find that perfect balance. There really isn't a set way to find it."

Here, she shares other ways she manages her mental health and parenting during this stressful time.

What does wellness mean to you, and how do you practice it?

Wellness is about serving your soul, being who you are and making sure that you're protecting your emotional and physical needs. I try to do so many different things and I feel like I'll be on a lifelong journey to figure out all the things that make me feel whole and well. But, right now I'm actively trying to work on myself and get outside of my own head. I think that a lot of us right now are feeling like our perception has become our reality. And it's not really the case. I think we're just so in our own heads, thinking about what's going on because we don't have those outside interactions. So I'm trying to not always trust my thoughts — like, not always trust the negative things that I say to myself.

I lean on friends and people who will help me and will tell me the truth, tell me what's actually happening as opposed to what I think is happening. To help with this I do traditional things like therapy and meditation, and right now I'm doing Melissa Wood Health for yoga and Pilates.

Are there any small self-care rituals that you find really help you get out of your head when you are having a particularly anxious day?

The biggest thing is positive thinking, which is really hard to do because fear can take over. But what I try to tell myself is, figure out what's actually happening versus like, what am I thinking is going to happen? I have really bad anticipation anxiety. Like, I worry about things before they even happen and then most of the time, they never even happen. So it's all this time spent worrying about stuff. So what I have to do is bring myself back into the present moment. One way I do this is through meditation. I've been doing the Calm app and they said something about breathing in blue and breathing out red and actually visualizing that, which I think is really helpful. Just taking deep breaths and going back to the root of all those things that are very simple to do.

How has motherhood changed your approach to mental health?

I think it's played a huge part. I really want to be a present, loving, positive source of light for my son. And I can't do that if I'm not taking care of myself. If I'm not in a positive mindset it has to be a priority for me to take care of myself so that I can actually show up and be there for him. Kids can feel everything, you know, even if you don't think they can. They just have such strong intuition. So for me, it’s important I put myself and my mental health first in order to be the best mom I can.

Has it been stressful being a mom right now?

Yeah absolutely, there have been moments of large amounts of stress where I'm like, “Oh my God, I don't think I can handle this, I don't think I'm cut out for this, I don't know how I'm gonna get through this.” And then there are more often the moments where you're just seeing the world through new eyes again, which is so refreshing, and it makes you look at the world in such a new way. It makes you want to be a better person. And those moments are what then get you through those other hard ones.

Speaking of hard moments, you've been so candid about your miscarriages. With the likes of Chrissy Teigen and Megan Markle speaking out about their miscarriages, what do you want to tell others who are going through the same thing and are worried about sharing their experience?

It feels so scary to talk about because there's so many loaded emotions that come with miscarriage. But the relief you feel when you get it off your chest makes it so worth it. The validation and the support that you get from women who have gone through it takes the weight off. It is such an isolating thing when it happens to your body, you think something's wrong with you and you immediately start talking negatively to yourself. Like, “What could I have done differently? Is it my fault?”

It's so important that we don't keep those emotions inside because it's just not true. There's no control we had over the situation. So just talking, learning about it and knowing that it's so prevalent, really helps make it not such a stigmatized thing.

For Women’s History Month, you're teaming up with Chloe Wine Collection and Dress for Success in support of their annual "Your Hour Her Power" campaign to raise awareness for the services Dress for Success provides to help women look and feel their best professionally. Can you talk about that partnership? What is the significance of the outfits that you are donating?

I think it is so important that women come together as a community and help lift each other up. For me, so much of my life has been about dressing up for the occasion, like dressing up for work, a TV show or an event. When I was thinking about what I wanted to donate, it was not only stuff that I thought women were going to feel like was work-appropriate, but pieces that were going to make them feel different, unique and confident, and something that I felt like was going to be a reflection of their personality. For example, fun printed floral dresses, bold trousers and bold blazers.

For the second year in a row, Port is supporting the
For the second year in a row, Port is supporting the "Your Hour Her Power" campaign to help women "dress for success." (Photo: Courtesy of Chloe Wine/Dress for Success)

Do you have a go-to outfit when you are having a bad day, that you think has the power to transform your mood?

Absolutely. For me, it's usually a blazer. Honestly, I don't really love the connotation of how blazers are typically menswear and that women wear them to make themselves feel powerful or like a man. I really don’t think it’s even about that. There's something about the form of a blazer and how it looks on every form that just looks put together. It's also such an easy piece to style around, even if you are just wearing it with a cute button-down, a cool pair of jeans and flats. You still feel put together and ready to take on whatever comes your way.

Given how good it makes you feel, are you still dressing up every day, even when you are at home in quarantine?

Oh, not at all! Most days I don't even shower until like 2 o'clock in the afternoon. To be totally honest I'm very much a sweatpants person. But if I have something, like if I am going to work or an interview, I take a lot of pride in dressing up.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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