This week I have the pleasure of sharing with you a little bit more about one of our amazing ambassadors, Alicia Van Schoonhoven. Alicia is a beautiful soul and the current Miss Galaxy Oceania. She is a Rehabilitation Coordinator, working to improve the overall health and well-being of individuals in her community and is also a model, presenter and avid volunteer. I caught up with Alicia to find out more about her, how she got into pageants, her struggles with anxiety and the tools she uses to manage it.
- Why did you want to be a Real Active Ambassador?
I started following Real Active on social media a couple of years ago and I was drawn to the positive and uplifting posts. I’ve had my own mental health struggles over the years and after a series of events, I hit rock bottom in 2016. During this time, I felt incredibly alone and thought that no-one else had experienced or understood what I was going through however when I reached out for professional support and later found the courage to share my story publicly, I realised that I wasn’t alone at all.
I see opportunity in sharing personal experiences and pain in order to help others and for me, the Real Active Movement is an incredible platform to be able to do just that.
- What is your favourite Real Active product?
Obviously all of them (hehe)!! I use my Real Active water bottles every single day as I’m quite an active person and the large water bottles keep me hydrated. I wear my singlets all the time and use my sweat towels in the gym as they are super absorbent and so convenient with the little zip pocket! However, If I had to pick just ONE product it would probably be the beach towel. Aside from the fact that I’m obsessed with the beautiful designs, what I love most about these is that they are sand resistant and they dry so quickly! AND they also have that fab little zip pocket for your belongings!
- Tell us a little bit about you.
I’m an Adelaide Hills girl but I’ve been living in Perth since 2004. I love travelling and immersing myself in other cultures. I’m currently Miss Galaxy Oceania and I have been competing in pageants for about 8 years. I’m passionate about helping people and I love volunteering my time for causes close to my heart. I have volunteered with 40 different not-for-profit organisations since 2013 and I love using my title of Miss Galaxy Oceania to make a difference in the lives of others. One of my favourite organisations to volunteer for is the Ronald McDonald House, where I go into the house with my crown and sash to spend time with the children and families staying there.
- What made you first want to compete in pageants?
I was always mesmerised by Miss Universe as a child and I remember watching Jennifer Hawkins win the international Miss Universe title in 2004. I always loved the elegance of the pageant and the confidence that the women portrayed. As a very shy little girl, I aspired to be like them. I started modelling classes at the age of 11 and it was a hobby that helped me slowly break out of my shell and help me find more confidence.
As soon as I turned 18 I took the opportunity to enter my first pageant and I was selected as a WA State Finalist for Miss World Australia and I was then later selected as 1 of 30 National Finalists. At the time, I entered because I loved modelling and I thought it would be an amazing opportunity and an experience that would help boost my confidence even more. What I didn’t realise is how much I would love the volunteering and fundraising side of the pageant. From this experience I started immersing myself in different volunteering opportunities and it made me realise how much I loved helping people and giving back to the community.
- What did winning your current title mean to you?
Winning my title was absolutely INCREDIBLE!!!! After 6 years in the pageant world and 4 attempts at the Miss Galaxy Australia title, it was the most proud moment of my life. There were so many times over the years that I felt like giving up because I didn’t feel like I was good enough and I doubted my abilities. However I had a dream, a strong fire in my belly and a desire to push forward despite my set-backs. I was determined to reach my goal of representing Australia on the international stage, no matter what. It was an overwhelming, exciting and rewarding moment when my name was called as Miss Galaxy Australia 2019 and I still pinch myself when I think about that exact moment.
My one piece of advice - NEVER give up on your dreams!! No matter how difficult it gets or how out of reach they may seem - keep pushing past your insecurities, anxieties and self-doubt. If you really want something in life, you have the power to make it happen. You just need to find that determination and motivation from within and continue to remind yourself of your ‘why’.
- Tell us more about your battle with anxiety.
I was always shy as a little girl and I think as I grew up this shyness turned into anxiety. When I went through the most difficult time in my life, my anxiety heightened to unbearable levels to the point where I withdrew from my family and friends completely and I struggled to find the motivation to get up everyday. My anxiety made me believe that hiding from everything and everyone was easier than facing life and admitting to others that I wasn’t okay.
I’ve been really focused on my mental health over the last 3-4 years and while I still experience anxiety from time to time, I have discovered a number of tools and resources that help me to manage it on a day to day basis and in times of stress.
- What are the main things that have helped you manage your anxiety?
- Exercise / Nutrition - I always find that if I start my day off exercising and eating well, I am in a better mood, my anxiety levels are low or non-existent and I am able to concentrate better. I also find that exercising after a stressful day significantly reduces any negative feelings I am experiencing too.
Taking time out for myself - this is something that took me a LONG time to learn. I never used to give myself time to just ‘be’ and to just relax. I am someone that finds it extremely difficult to stay still and to not be ‘productive,’ however I learnt in recent years that if I don’t take time out for myself, I will end up burning myself out completely, make myself very sick and completely useless!
Social media detox - this is not something I had really tried until recently. It is proven through research that spending a lot of time on social media can be bad for your mental health. I started to make myself more aware of this last year and I started to pay more attention to how social media was making me feel and how I’d react to certain things. I felt exhausted at the end of last year and I found myself very overwhelmed by social media. Over the Christmas period I made a conscious effort not to use my phone. I took a good 6 weeks where I rarely posted anything on my stories and I didn’t post anything on my Instagram feed. It was the break that I REALLY needed and I feel so much better for it.
- The Brain Wellness Spa - I first visited the Brain Wellness Spa in 2018. This is an alternative mental health treatment in which is described as “a spa for your brain that specialises in helping people with mental health issues.” I love their drug-free approach to mental health. It is something that has helped me a lot and I have now undertaken a range of their programs including the Emotional Empowerment, Self-Esteem and Confidence, and the Prosperity and Abundance programs. They also have an app available for your phone which has a range of programs that I listen to most days and either meditate to or listen to on a very low volume when I sleep. This has made a HUGE difference to my anxiety and overall mental health!
- What is one of your favourite quotes or mottos?
“You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore”. This has always been one of my favourite quotes and it’s actually on the back of my business card as it always reminds me to take a risk or to leap towards something I aspire to achieve. Sometimes you need to be willing to take a risk and leap over the challenges in order to get to where you want to be.
A big thank you to Alicia for taking the time to share her story. What I love most about it is that she shared it all, all the parts, even the bumps in the road. Thanks so much for being so honest Alicia and reminding us all to never give up on our dreams.
You can follow Alicia's journey via her Instagram page @missgalaxyoceania.