“5 Things Anyone Can Do To Optimize Their Mental Wellness”, with Lorie Solay and Beau Henderson
Self-Care Wheel. Awareness is the precursor to change and when my clients understand the self-care wheel, they feel more in control. The self-care wheel includes 6 quadrants that when in balance, can bring contentment, joy and ease. When my clients begin paying attention to and cultivating all the quadrants, they feel mentally, physically and emotionally strong and resilient.
As a part of my series about the “5 Things Anyone Can Do To Optimize Their Mental Wellness” I had the pleasure of interviewing Lorie Sola. Lorie Solay is an award-winning hypnotherapist. Her Bay Area coaching practice focuses on helping people with their mindset & spiritual growth. Outside of her practice, she loves to explore new places and spend time in nature with her family.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
First, thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to share my passion for helping people feel more liberated in their personal and professional life.
I think it would be very helpful to your readers for me to be candid about my backstory. I grew up in a family plagued by alcoholism. Growing up in this situation felt very unpredictable and scary at times. There was so much stress and volatility, that I became an anxious child. I remember going to school and spending a lot of time in the restroom, because my stomach was knotted up with worry. I had to pay close attention to adult behavior, motivation and perception in order to read the room, so to speak, in order to create a perception of safety.
Most of us face challenges early in life. The skills I had to develop to overcome the fear, loneliness and uncertainty, have become my greatest strengths. In psychology, it’s called Post Traumatic Growth. We don’t really hear that term much, but it’s a fairly common phenomenon. As I continued to find ways to heal, I realized that I really wanted to help others on their healing journey. And beyond the healing, I really wanted to help them find themselves. I wanted to help liberate them from their old narrative that kept them suffering and stuck.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
The interesting stories come from my clients as they share the transformation that happens when they find the courage to do this work. For many it feels sort of magical. They almost can’t believe how quickly their perspective and reality shifts for the better in areas like health, wealth or relationships.
One particular story sticks out. I had a client that was struggling to succeed in his business. He felt horribly stuck. This is the metaphor he used to describe how he felt. He said it felt like flying in a plane reaching newer and greater heights and then, all of a sudden, the plane would hit turbulence and plunge back down. It was a very visceral feeling, and he just couldn’t figure out why it was happening.
As he began working with me, we used processes that tapped into his deeper, subconscious mind. We found a subconscious memory that was tied to his block to success. He was quite young when his family experienced a traumatic event. He vividly remembered his family retelling and reliving the event, over and over. This memory had never come to his conscious mind, so he was surprised to remember it.
We reimagined new resources and rehearsed a new outcome. It changed him somatically and brought congruence to his emotional and physical system. Now he feels like his brain and body are in sync with his goals and desires. He was pleasantly surprised and so grateful for how much more liberated he felt. I still hear from him from time to time, and he’s incredibly happy. He’s surpassed his personal and professional goals and he feels fulfilled and at peace with his life. I feel so honored to be of service in this way.
Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?
Wow, do I have a story for you. I was invited to a workshop at the local chamber of commerce. The name of my presentation was Conscious Creativity is the New Currency.
Because I’m a science geek, I was overly exuberant to share fun and interesting facts about the brain, nervous system and the power of visualization. I crammed in so much information. I even had Alberta Einstein make an appearance. Alberta Einstein is my alter-ego that shows up to add some fun and levity to the topics I teach. My presentation was like a full theatrical presentation with props and costume changes. By the end, I was exhausted. My audience was thoroughly entertained, but definitely overwhelmed. Now, I’m much more measured in how I teach. I allow lots of time for contemplation and integration.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I’m truly grateful to my family, and especially my husband. My husband and I have certainly had our ups and downs and through everything, he’s been my biggest fan. I’m a big vision thinker, problem solver and creative, and he’s a pragmatic, realist, likes running the day-to-day operations kind of guy. We’ve had to find our groove together. They say in business that it’s good to have opposites to balance each other out. I would say that’s been so true for us.
Early in our marriage, we we’re both at cross-roads in our careers, so I started researching business ideas. We both knew we wanted to work for ourselves. We had recently adopted two, sweet shelter puppies. One day in the fall, I was out walking the pups at one of our favorite, local dog park that has a stellar view of the San Francisco Bay. The fog was beginning to thread through the Golden Gate Bridge and ooze into the Bay. A woman walked up and asked me if I was a dog walker, and I laughed. I certainly resembled a walker. I had the multi-pocket vest for treats and a ton of poopie bags. I had the REI hiking boots, and I had the leashes slung over my shoulder like a cross-bow. I answered, “No, but I should be, I’m out here every day walking my own dogs.” Just then, she came close, almost as if to disclose a secret. My eyes got a little wide, because I wasn’t sure what was coming. She shared that she owned a very lucrative dog walking business in Sausalito. She whole-heartedly encouraged me to consider doing the same in Oakland. I felt like I had been struck by lightning! You know the feeling when something just feels right, like you’re getting a serious tap on the shoulder?
Back then, dog walking was still a cottage industry. Well, my curiosity took hold like a dog firmly holding a chew toy and I started the discovery phase of this wonderful, new possibility. I went to local pet stores. I went to local vets. Then serendipitously, I was referred to a woman who turned into a mentor. Finally, I had enough information to propose this new business idea to my husband. His exact words were… “Are you daft?” Luckily, he trusted my instincts and decades later, we’re proud of the award-winning pet care business we’ve built together. “Thank you, sweetheart, for trusting me!”
This incredible experience was what lead me to want to continue chasing my dreams of helping people discover their own unlimited potential.
What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?
I would highly encourage them to practice what they teach. Devote time to self-care and spiritual practices every day. As coaches, or any other therapist, teacher, or trainer, our nervous system impacts our clients. It’s called entrainment. It’s natural for us to sync to the rhythms all around us, and most of the time we’re unaware of it. When coaches embody what they teach, I believe this is one of the greatest ways they can support their client’s transformation. Practicing self-care is the one way to ensure successful, effective coaching.
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
I believe a fantastic work culture is first created by companies that understand that the people who have chosen to support/work for the company ARE the company’s most valuable assets.
Other ingredients that would make an amazing work culture would be an environment that fosters and encourages creativity. Leaders would be emotionally intelligent. Emotional intelligence is one of the most important job skills for the future. There are many studies and statistics showing how emotionally unstable leaders cause stress, burnout and loss of productivity. There would be diversity and inclusion AND there would be women and minorities in management and upper management positions and on company boards. The company would provide resources to help relieve stress and burnout. The company and its leadership would know their mission, vision and values, which could also align with a Corporate Social Responsibility campaign.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Mental health is often looked at in binary terms; those who are healthy and those who have mental illness. The truth, however, is that mental wellness is a huge spectrum. Even those who are “mentally healthy” can still improve their mental wellness. From your experience or research, what are five steps that each of us can take to improve or optimize our mental wellness. Can you please share a story or example for each?
As a mindset and spiritual growth coach, I help my clients understand all aspects of mental wellness. I share that their mind/body/spirit is intimately connected to their over-all satisfaction in life. Here are some of my favorite methods and philosophies we begin to explore together:
1. The Compound Effect: This simple formula (based on Darren Hardy’s book) helps my clients understand the power of repetition and consistency. The formula is: small, smart steps, consistently over time, equals major life transformation. I help my clients understand that their true power lies in their day to day decisions, and that they have the power to choose. Knowing and declaring their free-will to choose is very empowering.
2. Self-Care Wheel. Awareness is the precursor to change and when my clients understand the self-care wheel, they feel more in control. The self-care wheel includes 6 quadrants that when in balance, can bring contentment, joy and ease. When my clients begin paying attention to and cultivating all the quadrants, they feel mentally, physically and emotionally strong and resilient.
The 6 quadrants are:
3. Breathwork. The mind follows the breath and the breath follows the mind. Many people don’t know how to breathe. That sounds a bit funny, because we’ve all been breathing since we were born. However, many people are shallow breathers and don’t know how to engage the diaphragm and the Vagus nerve. My clients learn how to properly breathe, so they can quickly reset their nervous system. Managing the breath is a simple, yet powerful strategy that’s considered a part of “best practices” for optimum metal hygiene.
4. Come to Your Senses: The body is always in the present moment. When my clients are learning how to unhook from obsessive thoughts or rumination, for example, they learn how to use their senses to come back to the present moment. I especially like using the sense of smell, because the Olfactory Bulb is connected to the Amygdala. The Amygdala is the alert system in the brain. It helps us to detect threat. However, if it’s hyper-active, it can cause anxiousness. This puts our bodies in a stressed state (sympathetic). My clients learn to associate and identify essential oils/fragrances that help to activate the rest, digest and restore state (parasympathetic) to feel more at ease and in control.
5. Power of Words. Language is the programming code for the deeper subconscious mind. Language is how we view the world. Our mentality creates our reality and the words we use can make us feel more abundant or in lack, healthy or sick, lonely or connected. Our mind doesn’t know the difference between real or imagined. A word will literally create and image in our mind, and a feeling in our body. Now, here’s the question: Are the images and feelings resourceful or un-resourceful? My clients learn to create a powerful, supportive vocabulary, so they can imagine, and feel, what they want, rather than what they don’t want. This is a game-changer.
Much of my expertise focuses on helping people to plan for after retirement. Retirement is a dramatic ‘life course transition’ that can impact one’s health. In addition to the ideas you mentioned earlier, are there things that one should do to optimize mental wellness after retirement? Please share a story or an example for each.
Mindset will play a huge roll in someone’s ability create a healthy transition into retirement and being aware of how changes can affect us is key. There are two processes I share with clients who are going through a life transition.
The first process is the Four Stages of Human Metamorphosis. A great metaphor for these stages is the development of a butterfly. The first stage of human metamorphosis is Dissolving. This stage can be scary and unsettling, because in this stage a person’s identity begins to dissolve. The second stage is Imagining. In this stage, a person can feel some relief and begin to imagine and create a plan for something new. Stage three is Reforming. In this stage, a person begins to get into action to build their new vision. Stage four is Taking Flight. A person’s new identity is fully formed and begins soaring.
The second process is the Kubler-Ross Grief Cycle. I find that even changes that are considered positive and exciting can come with some emotions of grief. The stages of grief are: shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, testing and acceptance.
A positive, optimistic mindset and perception about of our life and our identity make all the difference for mental wellness and resiliency.
My last piece of inspiration for retired folks would be to seek out positive narratives about how people navigated retirement. I just heard a wonderful interview on NPR about an organization called Senior Planet, where they help seniors and retired folks stay engaged and active. I would love for them to also read the NYT article called “What If Age Is Nothing But A Mindset?” by psychologist Ellen Langer.
I’m hearing so many wonderful stories these days about folks who are even more active and involved in their communities now that they’re “retired.”
*A personal note: I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude for the wisdom, strength and contribution of folks that are considered our elders and are planning for retirement. I want to personally thank you for all the contributions you’ve made to your family and your community, in order to make the world a better place.
How about teens and pre-teens. Are there any specific new ideas you would suggest for teens and pre-teens to optimize their mental wellness?
“Know thyself,” says Socrates. This is kind of a running joke with my teenage sons! Yet unless we have a personal foundation, and really know who we are, we’re like an unanchored ship tossed on a stormy sea.
I would encourage pre-teens and teens to go on a journey to discover their strengths, personal values and priorities. For young adults, I like exploring Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero’s Journey” process or helping them identify with a movie character or a story that inspires them. Often times, it’s easier for them to find the strengths and values in others in order to identify these qualities in themselves.
Other more practical advice that’s relevant to our times would be to:
Learn how to disconnect from devices. Turn off notifications that distract them. There’s something called “attention residual” where the brain wants to complete the last task. A distracted brain is a stressed brain. Distraction contributes to the feeling of overwhelm, confusion and irritability. Get unplugged and get moving!
Get back into your body and exercise. Exercise helps improve your mental state by releasing endorphins.
Come back to their senses, their actual 5 Senses, and connect with the earth. Nature is healing and the earth’s heartbeat, called the Schumann Resonance, will help to calm their nerves and reset their nervous system. Forrest bathing, earthing or grounding are other trendy terms for connecting with nature.
Find organizations and causes you can join in order to contribute to the greater good. Contribution is one of our basic human needs and helps grow self-esteem.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
Oh goodness, I’m such a voracious reader that this is a really tough question. I would say that “The Road Less Traveled” by Scott Peck, was impactful in my formative years. Here’s a funny story to share why. When I was a teenager, my boyfriend at the time said “Why are you always reading those self-help books?” Imagine a snarky voice and an eye-roll. Looking back, I’m so grateful for his pointed question, because it helped me realize that I’m a seeker, I’m an explorer, all the way down to my DNA. My deep curiosity to understand myself and others has consistently held my undivided attention to this very day.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I believe so deeply in being the change I wish to see in the world, so for me, it’s important that any movement must first start with oneself. I’m committed to love, unity and working to build people up. Through my own struggles, I hope to inspire people to find the courage to face their own fear and pain and transform it through self-compassion, forgiveness and a sense of awe with the incredible gift of life we’ve all been given. My magnificent obsession is to help them discover their unlimited potential that’s latent within them, waiting to be ignited.
From my perspective, there are only two emotions — Love and Fear. Everything in between is on a spectrum that’s either moving towards love or towards fear. More than ever, the world needs courageous, open-hearted people who are committed to love. People that can be open and vulnerable to the pain and suffering we humans inflict on each other, and still feel love. The truth is, simple acts of love and kindness happen all around us every day, and it can be more easily seen through loving eyes.
I’m going to come back to the quote again of “Know thyself” by Socrates. When you commit to your own personal and spiritual development and heal personal trauma, you’ll feel liberated. That is the movement that creates global healing. Science is proving that we’re all connected, and we entrain each other, whether we know it or not. I feel that purpose to my core.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!” from Goethe. This quote always sets me on fire. I believe we no longer have the luxury of being mediocre. I’m constantly negotiating with that part of me that feels like an imposter. You know the voice that says “Who do you think you are to… (fill in the blank)? Our super-power is our imagination and our most precious asset is time. Fortunately, I’m listening to the part of me that says “ready or not, here I come!”
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
Lorie L Solay | SOLAY CREATIVE on Youtube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClcCrGDdRMR_jqiTPB9IZkg
Lorie Solay on Instagram — https://www.instagram.com/lorie.solay/
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!
Again, thank you so much for the opportunity. Carpe Diem!
About the author:
Beau Henderson, editor of Rich Retirement Letter and CEO of RichLife Advisors LLC, is a best-selling author, national tv/radio resource, and retirement coach/advisor, with over 17 years’ experience. Beau is a pioneer in the strategy based new model of holistic retirement planning. He can be followed on Facebook here or on Instagram here