Self-Care & Mental Wellness: Author Reba Buhr On The Top Five Selfcare Practices That Improve Mental Wellness

An Interview With Maria Angelova


Your brain is a part of your body, and your body is a system. So if you’re not taking care of your body via nutrition, exercise, and quality sleep, then you’re not taking care of your brain. You need these things for a well-functioning brain. You need to balance your hormones and neurotransmitters, and you need to reduce chemicals and toxins in your body.

Let’s face it. It seems that everyone is under a great deal of stress these days. This takes a toll on our mental wellness. What are some of the best self-care practices that we can use to help improve our mental wellness and mental well-being? In this interview series, we are talking to medical doctors, mental health professionals, health and wellness professionals, and experts about self-care or mental health who can share insights from their experience about How Each Of Us Can Use Self Care To Improve Our Mental Wellness. As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Reba Buhr.

Reba Buhr, author of Get Thee to a Therapist is an actress, host, and voiceover artist based in Los Angeles, CA. Reba is also an outspoken mental health advocate. She uses her instagram to educate people about accessing mental health services and how to overcome the stigma, fear, and other barriers to care that keep people from finding the healing they deserve.

Thank you so much for doing this interview with us. It is a great honor. Our readers would love to learn more about you and your personal background. Can you please share your personal story? What has brought you to this point in your life?

In my day to day life, I’m an actor, working primarily in voiceover — lots of animation, video games and audiobooks. I love what I do and I feel so lucky. I’ve known I wanted to be an actor since I was a teen.

When I moved from Washington to Los Angeles to go to college to study theater and music, I was so excited to be there. I thought “this is where I become a real performer and then I’ll be fully cooked and it’s off to Broadway to become the next Kristen Chenoweth!” I was passionate and focused, but I also put so much pressure on myself to sign up for everything, to always be included, and to be my best all the time. Now, I recognize this as “High Functioning Anxiety.” I just didn’t know it at the time. Lucky me!

It couldn’t last forever and the bottom dropped out for me in my junior year of college when I started having panic attacks. I had never heard of anxiety or panic and so I kept going to the emergency room convinced I was having a heart attack. The doctors and nurses would check me out, determine I was healthy and send me home. But the problem was that the panic didn’t go away.

After a few agonizing weeks of this I finally figured out what was wrong. This led me to drop out of school for a semester to start medication and therapy and learn how to manage my panic disorder. My entire life shifted at that point. I still finished my degree and became a working actor, but I had a new lens. My focus had to be on holding onto balance in my life and maintaining my wellness. When I lost those things, the panic came roaring back and I was out of commission.

I still deal with panic to this day, but the more I work with my therapist and learn about myself, the less power it has over me. It has been the scariest, hardest, most painful part of my life. But it has also fueled more growth than I could have ever imagined. That’s why I decided to add “mental health advocate” and “author” to my list of hyphenates. Helping support others and bringing levity and humor to the situation via my Instagram channel, Get Thee To a Therapist, has become an important part of my life.

What is your “WHY” behind what you do? What fuels you?

I know what it’s like to suffer and to feel like you’re the only person in the world who is broken. That feeling of isolation is the hardest part of mental illness. And the reason I felt so alone was not because no one else was suffering. In reality, one in five people suffers from an anxiety disorder. My isolation was because no one else was talking about it. I decided that if by sharing my story I could make someone feel less alone, then I had to do it. That’s how we end the stigma around mental health in this country. We just need to start talking about it.

You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

  1. My Empathy: When someone is in pain, I know what they’re going through. I’ve been there. I’m able to connect with people about deep stuff pretty easily, because I can let them know that I can relate to their struggles. No one wants to be judged. We worry about that more than we realize. It’s so refreshing to find someone you can be real with and trust they aren’t going to judge you.
  2. My Confidence: I had someone say to me once “You’re anxious? But you’re so confident!” I was taken aback for a moment, but then I realized the confusion. I’m anxious about very specific things, like fainting and being too hot and too far away from emergency assistance (it’s related to trauma, you can read about it in the book). If I was anxious about being judged or embarrassing myself in a crowd, I would probably be pretty shy and reserved. But I don’t care about those things. Put me on a stage tomorrow in front of 5,000 people and have me sing the Star Spangled Banner backwards. I love being the center of attention so getting out there and speaking my truth and making content comes naturally.
  3. My Type A Personality. I am SO Type A. I’ve got lists and spreadsheets and rules for myself. It’s not all healthy. Sometimes I catch myself thinking “Reba, you’re not allowed to relax, you haven’t checked everything off your to-do list for the day.” Then I have to intervene and tell myself my worth is not measured by my productivity. It’s a constant battle. BUT, I sure do get a lot done.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting new projects you are working on now? How do you think that will help people?

My new book, Get Thee to a Therapist: A Survival Guide for Managing Anxiety and Panic Attacks from a Girl Who’s Been There, is basically the book 20-year-old Reba desperately needed. When I experienced my first panic attacks, I had no idea where to turn.

I find that every resource out there assumes readers already know how mental health and the American Medical System works, but I can tell you from experience — young adults do not know. Many full adults don’t know. And why would they? There wasn’t some class in school where they sat you down and explained “Ok, here’s how you use your health insurance and here’s the difference between a therapist and a psychiatrist.”

My book is a great resource to help people hit the ground running when they’re new to mental illness and need solutions right away.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview, about the interface between self-care and mental health. From where you stand personally or professionally, why are you so passionate about mental well-being?

The thing about mental health is that literally everyone has it. It’s not like you’re “crazy” or you’re “sane”. Some people struggle with disorders in a way others don’t, but there isn’t a single person out there who can afford to neglect their mental wellness any more than they can afford to neglect their physical wellness.

Based on your research or experience, how exactly does self-care impact our mental wellness?

“Self-care” means different things to different people these days. For some it’s massages and bubble baths. But that’s a commercialized view of things. True self-care is the many things you do to honor the health of your mind, body, and spirit everyday. Saying no to a commitment that will overtax you is self-care. Getting an annual physical is self-care. Being gentle with yourself when you mess up is self-care. Self-care and mental wellness are pretty synonymous.

Here is our primary question. Can you please share your “Top Five Self Care Practices That Each Of Us Can Use To Improve Our Mental Wellness”?

  1. Be kinder to yourself.

Have you ever checked in on how you speak to yourself and compared that to how you might speak to a friend? For example, if you got passed over for a job, you might tell yourself, “I’m never going to get work. I blew that interview and I’m hopeless.” But if your friend was in the same situation you’d probably say, “I’m sure you did great, but you never know what other factors are at play. This just means your perfect job is still out there.” You deserve to be as kind to yourself as you would be to anyone else you love.

2. Understand that your physical health and your mental health are the same thing.

Your brain is a part of your body, and your body is a system. So if you’re not taking care of your body via nutrition, exercise, and quality sleep, then you’re not taking care of your brain. You need these things for a well-functioning brain. You need to balance your hormones and neurotransmitters, and you need to reduce chemicals and toxins in your body.

3. Learn to allow space for your emotions, even the unpleasant ones.

If you’re like me, you may have learned as a child that emotions like anger are not nice and should be avoided and tamped down at all costs. But here’s the thing. Those bottled up emotions can build up and come out in other ways (anxiety, depression, etc.)

Every emotion is valid and should be allowed a seat at the table. You’ll find when you allow them to be there, they actually flow through you and leave more easily. Find constructive ways to express all your emotions.

4. Take care of yourself before helping others.

It’s just like you’re asked to do on the airplane, right? Put your own mask on first before assisting a child? It can feel virtuous and like “the right thing to do” to put others’ needs before your own whenever possible. But you’re no good to anyone when you’re pouring from an empty cup. And a real friend wants you to take care of yourself first too.

5. Get thee to therapy.

No matter who you are, you can benefit from therapy. You don’t have to do it forever, but check it out. Whether you’d like to improve your work/life balance, your relationships, your communication/confrontation skills, address painful memories or fears about the future, or treat a lingering mental health concern, it’s 100% going to be worthwhile. The revelations you get in therapy last forever and when you find a therapist who is a good fit you can do some amazing work.

Can you please share a few of the main roadblocks that prevent people from making better self-care choices? What would you suggest can be done to overcome those roadblocks?

The biggest roadblock for self-care is absolutely the fast-paced, competitive, productivity-driven world we live in. When you’re working so hard to stay competitive in your career and keep a roof over your head, you’re not going to have a lot of time to take care of yourself. Eating well, exercising, and resting go out the window. Constantly comparing yourself to others on the internet is a huge blow to self-esteem and can make it feel like you’ll never be enough. I know this feeling well. I have a huge social media addiction.

It helps me to take a step back and think about who I am living my life for. Am I working harder than I need to because I’m so caught up in the rat race? Could I be happier and have more time for myself with less? If anyone has any suggestions for how to run a business on social media while not also getting caught up in its bullshit, I’m all ears. It’s hard to abstain from it when your industry is on it.

In one sentence, what would you say to someone who doesn’t prioritize their mental well-being?

You deserve to put yourself first. You are worth it. Simple as that.

Thank you for all that great insight! Let’s start wrapping up. Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does this quote resonate with you so much?

Here’s my favorite quote: “Listen to your body when it whispers, so you don’t have to hear it scream.”

I’ve learned time and time again that when I stop listening to my body and start letting my mind run the show, that’s when I fall out of balance. I start letting the small things matter as much as the big things, I put too much on my plate, and eventually my body has to cry out for rest. For me, those cries come in the form of panic attacks. They’re signals from my body that something isn’t being given enough care in my life.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? They might just see this, especially if we both tag them :-)

My mental health/entertainment hero is Rachel Bloom (the creator and star of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend). She created something that was super funny, full of musical theater nerdiness, and totally honest about mental illness all at the same time. It made mental health a comfortable part of culture and entertainment rather than some dark secret we hide. I would love to make something like that someday.

I truly appreciate your time and valuable contribution. One last question. How can our readers best reach or follow you?

Find me on Instagram, If you’d like to follow the actor/regular person version of me as well I’m on there as @reba.buhr. You can also find information on the book and my contact info at

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.

About The Interviewer: Maria Angelova, MBA is a disruptor, author, motivational speaker, body-mind expert, Pilates teacher and founder and CEO of Rebellious Intl. As a disruptor, Maria is on a mission to change the face of the wellness industry by shifting the self-care mindset for consumers and providers alike. As a mind-body coach, Maria’s superpower is alignment which helps clients create a strong body and a calm mind so they can live a life of freedom, happiness and fulfillment. Prior to founding Rebellious Intl, Maria was a Finance Director and a professional with 17+ years of progressive corporate experience in the Telecommunications, Finance, and Insurance industries. Born in Bulgaria, Maria moved to the United States in 1992. She graduated summa cum laude from both Georgia State University (MBA, Finance) and the University of Georgia (BBA, Finance). Maria’s favorite job is being a mom. Maria enjoys learning, coaching, creating authentic connections, working out, Latin dancing, traveling, and spending time with her tribe. To contact Maria, email her at To schedule a free consultation, click here.



Maria Angelova, CEO of Rebellious Intl.
Authority Magazine

Maria Angelova, MBA is a disruptor, author, motivational speaker, body-mind expert, Pilates teacher and founder and CEO of Rebellious Intl.