Mental Wellness Mastery: Mental Health Expert Meredith Siller of Relational Associates On Everyday Life Hacks For Optimal Mental Wellness

An Interview With Eden Gold

Eden Gold
Authority Magazine
9 min readMar 13, 2024

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Go for a walk — ideally, outside. It doesn’t matter how long, or how many steps you get. Walking stimulates both sides of our brain, which can reduce anxiety and help regulate our nervous systems. Taking in a new environment can give us energy and alertness. And moving our bodies can release endorphins and help us process emotions.

In our modern, fast-paced society, mental wellness is a crucial aspect of leading a fulfilling life. However, for many people, achieving and maintaining good mental health can be a challenging task, with obstacles such as stress, anxiety, depression, and more. That’s why it’s essential to have practical and accessible strategies for mental wellness that can help build resilience, emotional intelligence, and overall well-being. As part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Meredith Siller.

Meredith is a licensed marriage and family therapist and an attorney. A rising star at her law firm, Meredith boldly chose to return to school and pursue a psychotherapy license in order to live a life more aligned with her values. Meredith maintains a small legal practice in addition to her therapy practice. She recently co-founded Relational Associates, a small psychotherapy corporation based in Los Angeles, California, where she lives with her dog Wolfie.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive into our discussion about cultural sensitivity, 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?

I’ve been fascinated by law and psychology for as long as I can remember. I have vivid memories as a kid arguing with any parents and teachers who would listen to me, and I relished my tenure on my high school’s mock trial team. I studied Cognitive Science in undergrad, and was absolutely enthralled with my neuroscience and psychology classes — I loved learning how our brains worked, and more importantly, how much of our brains and body remain a mystery.

After college, I went to law school and straight to a law firm, where I had a truly amazing career with incredible opportunities and experiences. But I was on autopilot, always reaching for the next big case or advancement, on track to make partner, not because it was what I wanted, but because it was all I knew. I was also completely overextended, my health was suffering, and I needed to take a major pause and reflect on what I wanted. At the time, I told myself my desire to become a therapist was rooted in my value of supporting others, but in truth I became a therapist to better support myself. Through my therapy training and deep personal work, I have built and stepped into a life that is deeply fulfilling and supports my growth and wellbeing.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

When I was working at the law firm, one of my cases went to the U.S. Supreme Court — a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most lawyers. My biggest takeway, though, wasn’t about the experience of preparing the case, or attending oral arguments in the highest court in our country. It was when the opinion came out, authored by the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who outlined why we lost. Justice Ginsburg was an idol of mine, and seeing that we were on opposing sides, in stark black and white writing, was a huge wakeup call — it was a tangible sign that the work I was doing in the world was not aligned with my values.

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

Resilience. I have experienced some immense losses in my life, and I have been able to move through my pain and grief and come out the other side.

Comfort with change. I used to fight change with everything I had, but now it feels like I am able to surf the waves and not let them rattle me too much.

Kindness. Growing up, I was surrounded by narratives that paint successful people — especially successful women — as cold, competitive, and robotic. That has never been my way. Leaning into my kindness and building authentic relationships with others has paved the way for my success.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview about mental wellness mastery. What is one often overlooked daily habit that can significantly improve one’s mental wellness?

Reaching out for connection. We are meant to thrive in connection with others. But relationships take work, which can feel at odds with a culture that emphasizes busyness and productivity. Reaching out doesn’t have to take long — it can look like texting a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while just to say hi, or sharing something silly with a loved one, or telling a family member that you’re thinking of them. Taking a few moments each day to do this can help bolster these connections, which can improve our individual and collective wellbeing. And, letting people know what’s going on in your life can make it easier to reach for and receive support.

How do you recommend individuals recalibrate their mental wellness after experiencing a significant setback or failure?

I practice a type of therapy called Gestalt, which is focused on the here-and-now. When clients experience a significant setback or failure, I encourage them to feel what is real for them in this moment — likely some combination of disappointment, grief, and shame. These feelings are really uncomfortable, and sometimes we are so afraid to feel them that we come up with stories to “protect” ourselves — stories that often blame ourselves and others. But by feeling these feelings, we can move through them faster and more painlessly than having to wrestle with these stories.

I’ll also encourage clients to hold multiple things at once, so the setback or failure is not all they are focusing on. We can feel disappointment *and* excitement for a new opportunity. We can feel shame *and* be proud of ourselves for trying.

In your experience, what is a common misconception about mental health that hinders people from seeking help or improving their wellness?

People can be reluctant to reach for support from others (friends, loved ones, therapists) because they don’t want to burden that person. Often, this comes from a combination of childhood experiences (if the person’s caregivers were overwhelmed by difficult emotions, kids can feel like they are “too much”) and lack of socioemotional education in society. But this “burden” idea is a misconception — it is easy to check in with a loved one and see if they have space to support. And I (and most other therapists I know) chose this career because we want to connect with others, especially when things feel hard.

Can you share a transformative moment or client story that highlights the power of a specific mental wellness strategy?

I’ve worked with many clients about setting boundaries. Often, boundaries are considered big, scary, and harsh — like putting up a giant immovable stop sign. But I’ve found that as my clients practice awareness of their experience (one of the mental wellness strategies I discuss below), they become more in touch with what they need to support being in connection. The goal of setting boundaries shifts from being a stop sign to a desire to collaborate with others about how to be in mutually supportive connection.

Based on your experience and research, can you please share “5 Everyday Life Hacks For Optimal Mental Wellness?”

1 . Go for a walk — ideally, outside. It doesn’t matter how long, or how many steps you get. Walking stimulates both sides of our brain, which can reduce anxiety and help regulate our nervous systems. Taking in a new environment can give us energy and alertness. And moving our bodies can release endorphins and help us process emotions.

2 . Make a to-do list and a to-done list. So many of us have an endless number of things to do, and setting aside measurable goals can help us feel accomplished at the end of each day. I also recommend adding in a to-done list, to account for the inevitable unexpected things that popped up that we handled each day.

3 . Actively notice joy and pleasure. There’s a part of our brain called the reticular activating system, and its function is to filter through the infinite information we are constantly taking in and tell us what we should pay attention to. By recognizing joy and pleasure when we experience it throughout the day — maybe it’s a delicious food, or a connection with another person, or a victory at work– we can actually train our brains to realize that these are important, which makes it easier to notice them in the future.

4 . Cultivate curiosity. When we’re kids, newness and uncertainty is often paired with wonder and awe. But as we grow up, due to societal narratives, trauma, and added responsibility, uncertainty becomes very scary, and we will do almost anything to avoid it. Try to take a moment each day to wonder about something (What might be going on for the person across the street? Why am I walking or driving this specific route? What might cause that plant to grow in that direction?) Being curious opens our minds, releases judgment, and helps us re-learn that the unknown is not necessarily something to fear.

5 . Practice awareness. Spend a minute checking in on your experience, without judging it or trying to “fix” it. What thoughts are filling your mind? What emotions are in your awareness? What sensations are you noticing in your body? What are each of your senses taking in? This type of awareness can help us be more present, validate our lived experiences, and get more in touch with ourselves. It can be a building block for bigger steps, like understanding our needs and values, and setting boundaries.

What role does technology play in mental wellness today, and how can individuals leverage it positively without exacerbating mental health issues?

Technology is truly a double edge sword, but it can be leveraged supportively if we are intentional about how we use it. This means building awareness of how using technology helps us and hurts us, and empowering ourselves to use it supportively. For example, scrolling on Instagram can help me decompress and feel connected to people in my community, but it can also make me feel like I’m not doing enough, and it can be challenging for me to stop scrolling. I can be intentional by setting time limits (like checking Instagram within a limited time window) and by being selective about the accounts I follow (fewer people that make me feel competitive, more dogs). Social Media profits off of mindless scrolling, but if we are empowered to take charge of our experience, we can leverage it in a way that supports us.

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 completed my clinical psychotherapy training at a community mental health nonprofit in Los Angeles called The Relational Center, whose goal is to create a culture shift that emphasizes empathy, diversity, and interdependence. Having experienced the transformative power of these values firsthand, I know that a movement embodying empathy, diversity, and interdependence would change the world.

How can our readers further follow you online?

For news, updates, offerings, or ways to get in touch, you can turn to my website at http://www.relationalassociates.com/

Thank you for the time you spent sharing these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

About The Interviewer: Eden Gold, is a youth speaker, keynote speaker, founder of the online program Life After High School, and host of the Real Life Adulting Podcast. Being America’s rising force for positive change, Eden is a catalyst for change in shaping the future of education. With a lifelong mission of impacting the lives of 1 billion young adults, Eden serves as a practical guide, aiding young adults in honing their self-confidence, challenging societal conventions, and crafting a strategic roadmap towards the fulfilling lives they envision.

Do you need a dynamic speaker, or want to learn more about Eden’s programs? Click here: https://bit.ly/EdenGold

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Eden Gold
Authority Magazine

Youth speaker, keynote speaker, founder of Life After High School, and host of the Real Life Adulting Podcast