Ausnew Home Care | Writer and advocate Hannah Diviney is romanticising life and letting go of comparison

Writer and advocate Hannah Diviney is romanticising life and letting go of comparison

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In the busyness of everyday life, Hannah Diviney, a writer and disability advocate, is prioritising fun.

"I never want to be the person who gets to the end of their life and says maybe I should have had more fun. I'd prefer to just live and do the things that make me happy," she says.

Part of what makes life enjoyable for Hannah is wearing various hats, including that of editor-in-chief at Missing Perspectives, a publication platform dedicated to addressing the marginalisation of women in news, media, and democracy.

The Gadigal/Sydney-based author and occasional actress shares the exercise that helps her hit pause, and why she's stopped comparing herself with others. 

Unwind with… is a weekly column that explores the simple ways people take care of themselves.

To unwind from a busy day…

I journal a lot and listen to music. If I need my brain to completely switch off, I sometimes force myself to do mindless things like scroll on my phone.

It won't be scrolling through the news, it will be more like watching moments from Friends on YouTube or reading social commentary about Taylor Swift because she's one of my favourite musicians. It has specific parameters.

Something I do each day that makes me feel grounded is…

If I'm feeling super overwhelmed by the day, I will close my eyes in a quiet space and focus on five things I can see, four things I can hear, three things I can touch, two things I can feel, and one thing I can taste or smell. This exercise forces my brain to pause and actively think about my surroundings.

Hannah Diviney in a bookshop smiling as she holds a copy of her book 'I'll Let Myself In'. She is sitting in a wheelchair.
Hannah Diviney published her first book, I'll Let Myself In, in September 2023.()

Something I'm trying to work on is…

Not comparing myself to other people as much. Because of the fatigue that I experience as a result of my disability, it becomes more necessary for me to rest. I will often feel guilty about that because it's just so ingrained in our culture that taking a break means we're flawed, or not working hard enough.

But if I keep comparing myself, or measuring my productivity on scales that aren't built for people like me, then I'm setting myself up for failure. 

If you can manage to tune out the little voice in your brain that worries about what other people think or social expectations, your body will tell you exactly what you need.

Something I do for pleasure…

I feel very strongly that pleasure is much more necessary than we generally think. It's a cliché [but] I'm very aware of the fact that life is short.

We can actively work to romanticise our life a little bit. The world can be big and scary, but we can find the pleasure in things. When I'm in the car and a certain song comes on the radio I love, I'm going to sing to that song. Or if I don't go out on a Saturday night, I can find joy in the fact that I'm at home in my pyjamas. 

My advice on how to unwind…

Hannah Diviney smiling while sitting outside a house in her wheelchair, patting a dog. Wearing a graphic t shirt and leggings.
Hannah says she's taking pleasure in little things, which helps when the world feels "big and scary".

Don't be afraid to be whimsical and use your imagination.

The other day when I was on the train and there was a little boy who was really excited he was on the train and that he could hold himself up on the railing. He was looking at his dad like, 'I'm so strong and so tall.' Of course it would be strange to do that as an adult, but it's just about reminding yourself of the things that make you happy.

Just do what works for you and build a life that is solid enough so that if other people want to be part of it they can, but if they don't you've still got something that's full and fun and sustaining.

Unwind with… is produced by Madeleine Dore, a writer, interviewer and author of I Didn't Do The Thing Today.

Source: ABC

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