Igniting Togetherness. As harsh as this year’s been, it has also been heartwarming to see people come together in unexpected ways and numbers. To support neighbors, friends, family and strangers who have lost their securities following the pandemic. It is the sort of humanness we need more of to heal.
As a part of my series about the things we can do to remain hopeful and support each other during anxious times, I had the pleasure of interviewing Nerissa Janetta Persaud.
Nerissa Janetta Persaud is a Learning and Development Strategist, Writer and Motivational Speaker dedicated to unlocking and aligning potential. She’s a leading voice on breaking mental barriers as the host on the self-development podcast Mindset Bootcamp and thought architect behind the initiative Ignite the Human Spark –birthed in the middle of the pandemic with the specific purpose of helping people get unstuck to see beyond crisis.
Described as “a challenger to how we ordinarily think,” Nerissa has dedicated her professional life with the firm belief we all have something meaningful to contribute; further supporting the ideas and conversations to bridge the gaps.
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?
Thank you for having me as part of this series. I have always considered the path I lead one of a natural progression. Although, it wasn’t one I had planned for or told myself insistently ‘yes, a career in learning and development would be my forte.’ It became a natural progression because of my personality, ignited through webs of conversations, human sparks and experiences which I paid close attention.
I had also never been afraid of trying different things or messing up the path. I worked as a Marine Turtle Tour Operator, an Accounts Receivable Clerk and even in Management Information System for a huge manufacturing company before landing in the hospitality industry — this is where it really started.
The hospitality industry complimented my interests and became a window to roam that expanded into a new adventure living and working in the Maldives for the Four Seasons Resorts, an ultra-luxurious product and place.
The moment of listening to what was happening around me, what moved me and how inclined I felt to respond and in what way became transparent after a conversation with a friend who was also working in the Maldives at the time. She was in tears, defeated by the way her boss had treated her. In the moments after listening to her story, I felt an immediate need to do something, anything. I started reaching out to friends and alliances who could be of help to her situation. I then decided to look inward at the company I worked and found a seemingly perfect fit. It panned out, she was the ideal fit and leaving behind a disgruntled boss, she started fresh and continues to this day to lead a strong career.
Here is what I realized from that moment: I felt closer to myself, to my worth and spark after she felt closer to hers. This was also someone I had not known for years or carried strong bonds. To me, it was the human thing to do. It was the moment I realized that whatever I did next needed to serve that purpose — staying true to connecting human purpose. Now, more than a decade later of making my home in several countries across continents, I’ve found myself at the boundary of igniting the human spark through all that I do.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
Of the great books, Michelle Obama’s memoir Becoming spoke volumes. It’s on my nightstand and a go-to anytime I need a bit of pick-me-up. For me, I see a woman who sacrificed, shouldered and struggled to find her voice but through her journey, discovered her presence. I was able to connect through her story on many levels from motherhood to business to sometimes answering ‘what now?’. It served as a powerful reminder that we are all in discovery and rediscovery of ourselves — a constant becoming.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
These are some of the things I’ve thought of heavily over this year. We have been stopped in our tracks, and the opportunity here is fundamentally linked to our motivations and aligning these motivations to serve a much broader purpose. One that is inclusive, contributory, caring and harnessed through sustainable actions.
These shifts and jolts have opened the door to a flood of discussions and possibilities, for starters:
What I’ve realized the most is this: seeing the light at the end of the tunnel is really, consistently in the creation of our present. What this means is, instead of being in a wait mindset of ‘when things get better’, or ‘what we’d hope it to look like at the end of the tunnel’, we need to be more invested in ‘now.’ In now of creating the micro-movements to build a better tomorrow. In creating moments that ignite our daily lives, that serves us, our community and our ecosystem. This goes way outside of what we do for a living and more on how we think and behave — changing our behavior to adapt and thrive in an ever-changing world.
As harsh as this year’s been, it has also been heartwarming to see people come together in unexpected ways and numbers. To support neighbors, friends, family and strangers who have lost their securities following the pandemic. It is the sort of humanness we need more of to heal.
Activating Our Resilience
There have been drastic shifts to how we learn, teach, facilitate and navigate our lives. We’ve had to become very resourceful without notice. We’ve had our homes converted into work-school zones. We’ve had to become ultra-interested in our readiness to repurpose what we know and develop where we need. In this respect and many others, we are becoming more resilient and adaptable to respond and coexist within uncertain times. This pause is our reboot to self-develop, reflect and renew.
If you’ve ever wanted a second chance, this is it. There is potential for the birth of the next big thing because it is through disruption that new opportunity connects. This is the moment we narrow in on what’s broken, what hasn’t been working for quite some time and rethink: what will it take to rebuild what does? It’s an excellent time to review career, strengthen bonds and open conversations that may have been put off in the past. It’s the time to use your superpower, your core strengths and harness them to be solutions to problems.
As tricky as it’s been to strike a balance within this era, there’s also been a renewed attitude on staying healthy. More people are seeking out healthier paths to keep fit and out of medical need. We are using this moment of crisis to teach our children smarter habits and reinstate sustainable practices within our everyday lives whether we realize it or not. This shift in behavior can create long term positive effects on our overall health and wellbeing as a society.
From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
Becoming aware of how we respond to situations and connecting those dots from shift responses to support responses plays a big part. For starters:
Take Care of Yourself
We often rush into support mode with little acknowledgement to the care we need ourselves. Step one: Take care of yourself. A few years ago, I found myself at the bitter end of anxiety and burnout; it was the most defeated I’d ever felt. I was no help to anyone around me or myself. I realized, the day I decided to take control of my nutrition and design a routine of wellness around what my body needed to function, changed my outcome. As the saying goes: what you put in is what you get out. In this case, nutrition and wellness are at the heart of how well we thrive and support those around us.
Dial-up the Kindness
Everyone’s been affected in some way or another. Some much more than others and assuming that someone’s okay isn’t good enough. Recognizing this and our role in curbing the presence of anxiety as we move forward is part of the puzzle. It is part of our responsibility as a neighbour, a friend, a colleague and a citizen. How well we move forward from this is largely dependent on how well we come together to support each other to heal.
Teach What You Know, Share What You Have
A great deal of the time, someone may say, I’d love to help, but I don’t know how –the biggest barriers to this, is thinking you need permission or require great social influence to be valuable. This couldn’t be further from the truth. We all have a story, and we’ve all found ways of maneuvering difficult moments. We’ve all had to engage our resilience at one point or another. Sharing renewed purpose is an enlightened way to boost hope and inspire daily motivations during anxious times. Our story holds more power than we think. By tapping into this vulnerability, we connect and inspire in ways we may not have otherwise thought possible.
Be a Conversation Starter
Are you okay? How are you coping? Where have you been most affected? Can I help with something in particular? Do you need advice? We do not need to wait for something to happen to reach out. Now more than ever, with rising job loss and many on the brink of it, activating regular check in’s and open dialogue is essential. By becoming more open to ask the questions that can sometimes feel uncomfortable, we break the barriers that keep many trapped within anxiety, uncertainty and loneliness.
Be Mindful. Avoid Trigger Expressions.
We often talk about the power of listening in conversations, but what about listening to what we say? Are we being sensitive and mindful? Conversations are incredibly powerful. They can lift us or drag us down. Now more than ever, we have got to be mindful that we’re not sending the wrong sort of message and adding to the anxiety. An area I often reference is the ever common: ‘Sorry I’ve been so busy to call you.’ It rolls off the tongue without a second thought, yet for many, it can trigger a sense of irrelevance in the moment. Being mindful of what we say and how we say it can change the quality of our relationships and how we support each other through anxious times.
What are the best resources you would suggest to a person who is feeling anxious?
When I think about the best resources we can use to support ourselves or anyone who may be feeling anxious, my first thoughts are working from the inside out. While a good book, music, quote or your favorite place to enjoy the daily scroll can seem easy-going; here are a couple of ideas that can be resourceful on a holistic level.
First: Start a Sleep Schedule — Our mobile devices can be our little helpers or distractions. Using a sleep application to schedule and create a healthy rhythm for your seep structure is a great way to make your device work for your wellbeing.
Second: Explore What Stimulates Your Senses– Sensory stimulation can have a profound effect on our emotional, cognitive and physical development. For me, aromatherapy plays a role in my daily routine. At the moment, I’m into fresh herbs with basil and rosemary the two I’ve been gravitating towards lately. Pressing a few pieces between my fingers gives a calming aroma that centres my thoughts to start the day.
Third: Supplement and Super boost Your Health — This is an area we often overlook and underserve. It’s also the hub of how well we function and respond to life’s many intrusions. A healthy juice in the morning, supplementing with a multi-vitamin, changing how and what we intake are all ways that can have profound impacts on our ability to mitigate stress, anxiety and lead more fulfilling lives.
Fourth: Get Your Sweat On– Our body doesn’t only respond better after a good workout; it needs it to function well on a molecular level. A resource I’ve found helpful is the SWEAT application I’ve downloaded on my iPhone. I’ve been using it for a couple of months joined by my workout buddy –A Ulysses pact of motivation.’ Together it’s our hour of pushing resistance and lowering anxiety.
Fifth: Embrace a Furry Companion– Animals have long been considered great companions and boosters to our emotional and physical wellbeing. For me, that’s my Goberian (Golden Retriever, Siberian Husky Mix), Ruby. But like anything else, having a dog or other is a big responsibility. If you’re willing to embrace positive change, it comes with a healthy dose of commitment to reap the benefits.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
‘Where you live in the world should not determine whether you live in the world’ — Bono.
I came across this quote many years ago. It stood out to me for many reasons the most apparent perhaps from my own travels and getting to know the ways of life through another’s perspective. It’s not always pretty but living in Canada and throughout my journey, it’s easy to see how much we take for granted from the privileges we enjoy. The quote sadly serves as a harsh reality to the barriers beyond our typical viewpoint of the world and a reminder: we have to do better. It has also kept me humble and constantly in pursuance to do better.
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. :-)
Call me a dreamer, but this would definitely be ‘Becoming Better Humans.’ If we become more invested in becoming better humans, I believe we have a real shot at creating a better world. Integrating a universal culture of hope, care and responsibility to stimulate attitudes linked through mindfulness, accountability and greater self-ownership. Areas that have been widely unrealized yet tested us the most since the beginning of the pandemic.
What is the best way for our readers to follow you online?
You can find and follow my journey on:
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!
Thank you, Authority Magazine.