Self-Care & Mental Wellness: Jamie Wilson , Lucy Smith and Avery Hoenig Of The Badass Rebellion On The Top Five Selfcare Practices That Improve Mental Wellness

An Interview With Maria Angelova


Permission to be kind to yourself. In essence, don’t be a jerk to yourself. One of the greatest sources of unhappiness, anxiety, and dis-ease is critical self-talk. Often, and often unconsciously, we can be really mean to ourselves, speaking in a way we’d never speak to another. The antidote has two parts: 1) catch your negative self-talk, and 2) practice speaking to yourself with kindness and compassion. If the latter feels hard, think about what you’d say to a friend in a similar situation. Being kind to ourselves — showing up for ourselves with kindness and compassion — builds confidence and helps regulate our moods. It makes it easier to cope with hard situations.

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 Jamie Wilson, PhD, Avery Hoenig, PhD, & Lucy Smith, PhD.

Jamie, Lucy, and Avery are three women in their 40’s, all with PhDs in Clinical Psychology, and each with over a decade of experience working in private practice. They are hosts of a fun and informative podcast, Inspiration from the Couch, which covers a wide array of mental health topics. Most recently, they have created a new business, The Badass Rebellion, designed to help women stop putting themselves dead last, start prioritizing themselves, and reconnect to what truly lights them up and gives them meaning and satisfaction in their lives.

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?

We have been friends and colleagues for years. Sometime in 2014, we started meeting every Thursday to talk about everything from our clinical work to what was happening in our personal lives. In the fall of 2020, the three of us met for brunch (a real treat since it was the first time we’d ventured out to eat in public in over 6 months!). A common theme emerged: we’d all been feeling pretty lonely and isolated working from home and seeing clients virtually. We felt a strong desire to do something collaborative and creative. The word “podcast” was tossed into the air and landed for all of us. Shortly thereafter, Inspiration from the Couch was born. We’ve had a great time with the podcast. We love getting together and sharing stories about what has personally worked for us and our clients to create lives filled to the brim with fun, adventure, peace, ease, connection, and meaning. We’re also not afraid to share our struggles and failures in a humorous and compassionate way. We had so much fun with the podcast that we’ve now created a new business, The Badass Rebellion. We’re on a mission to help women stop dismissing their wants and needs, people-pleasing, and stretching themselves too thin and instead start setting boundaries without guilt, start showing up for themselves, and start creating life with more life in it!

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

All three of us have a strong desire to serve, work collaboratively, and have an enjoyable time while doing it. As licensed professionals in private practice, that setting can feel lonely. Frankly, it’s just you and your clients alone in an office all day. In our private practices, we often notice certain themes, skills, and strategies that seem to be relevant to most of our clients. As we’ve been working together on the podcast, we’ll often select topics that have come up consistently in our client work. We each have a desire to go beyond the one-to-one setting and serve a larger group. We also find great fulfillment in collaborating creatively. Working on new projects together exercises a different part of our brains and it’s hard for the three of us to contain our excitement when something really lights us up.

Sometimes our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about a mistake or failure which you now appreciate has taught you a valuable lesson?

One of the biggest lessons we’ve learned through forming a new business together is the importance of periodic retreats away from our usual work environment and time for rest. We are very driven women who have historically been achievement focused. When the three of us work together, we can be very productive and accomplish a lot. However, that workstyle has sometimes led us to feeling unenthusiastic and as if we are just going through the grind — — exactly the opposite of what we want to model and teach! We have made a concerted effort to check in with ourselves and each other, communicate how we are feeling openly and honestly about whatever project we are working on, and be more intentional about scheduling time off and creating space for fun, connection, and creativity. We know firsthand that you can’t be creative and inspired if you’re overwhelmed and burnt out!

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?

If we had to pick just three traits, we would choose connection, authenticity, and humor. The business that we have created would probably look very different if we were trying to launch it as just one person, rather than the three of us working together. Being able to lean on one another during stressful times, glean feedback from each other, and bounce ideas off one another has been invaluable to the growth of our business.We regularly take retreats to recharge our creativity and bond with one another, ensuring we stay connected.

Authenticity can be a really difficult thing to embody. It is so much easier to avoid conflict and just say, “Good job” and give each other positive reinforcement. However, we know that just telling someone what they want to hear doesn’t leave anyone in their greatness. We know the importance of checking in with ourselves and one another on a regular basis and have created a safe enough environment among the three of us that we can have hard conversations.

Lastly, having a sense of humor, lightness, and fun has been one of the driving values behind what we do. If we are not enjoying ourselves, then why bother? We want to model something different for female entrepreneurs. That you can be productive AND can have a great time simultaneously. We regularly ask ourselves, “How are we feeling about our next project? Does it light us up or does it fill us with dread or ambivalence?” If it’s not something that we get excited about, then we have learned to scrap it and move on to something that does.

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

We’ve created The Badass Rebellion community so women can lose the Superwoman Syndrome, stop feeling overwhelmed and burned out, and start prioritizing what really matters most. We’ve known so many women who are incredibly capable and generous, who give and give until there’s nothing left for themselves (us included in that bunch)! We are very interested in helping women navigate the midlife period of their lives. There are so many transitions that occur during this stage — physically, mentally, socially, vocationally — and yet, there seems to be a real scarcity of information about how to move through this phase of life in a meaningful way. We want to close the knowledge gap in this area and provide tools to help women answer the question, “I’m in midlife, so now what?” We hope that our personal and professional wisdom can steer women towards having a lighter load, a more fulfilling life, and relationships with one another which are authentic, uplifting, and badass!

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?

Mental well-being is the foundation for a well-lived life. Not one human is exempt from life’s struggles.That is a universal truth. We know firsthand, personally and professionally as licensed psychologists, that good self-care can serve as a great buffer to stress and distress.

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

Self-care and mental wellness go hand-in-hand. They’re two sides of the same coin. We’ve never met someone who burns the candle at both ends, pleases everyone, constantly puts themselves last, dismisses their own needs, tries to control everything, and never slows down who is the picture of mental health. We’ve learned that in order to be mentally well, trade-offs have to occur between wants and needs. For example, we may want to be an ultra-productive employee, a fantastic spouse and parent, a giving friend, a loving son or daughter, etc. AND the reality is that we need to take care of ourselves first if we are going to come close to those values.

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

One of our favorite ways to think about self-care practice is giving ourselves permission to engage in self-care. Oftentimes we know what to do to take care of ourselves but we have difficulty in following through and engaging in the practice of self-care. We’ve found that allowing ourselves the permission, time, and space to actually engage in self-care practices is essential.We have to clear the mental pushback before we can successfully engage in self-care. Here are our top 5 permission slips to better self-care practice:

1. Permission to say no. Saying “no’’ to others can be quite tricky. One of the biggest obstacles to saying no is the feeling of guilt. Many times we say yes to requests, favors, or demands in order to avoid feeling guilty. We seem to fall into this trap where we feel like the choice is between “No = guilt” and “Yes = no guilt.” However, if we constantly say yes without checking in with ourselves, this can lead to a host of other negative feelings. In fact, the choice may actually be between “no=guilt and yes=resentment, frustration, irritability, and exhaustion.” It’s important to engage in self-reflection to determine if you’re truly a “yes’ or a “no” and give yourself permission and compassion to make the choice that’s most effective for you and to drop the guilt.

2. Permission to ask for help. As adults, we can be quick to offer help but the notion of asking for help might feel uncomfortable. This happens for a number of reasons. We might have strong beliefs about independence and self-reliance, self-judgment around having needs, desires to control the situation, or just not even thinking that asking for help is an option. However, even if we can do something on our own, it’s important to ask ourselves, “At what cost?” Asking for help is not a weakness, can actually strengthen relationships in the long run, and is a great way to take care of yourself.

3. Permission to take the easy way out. The idea of taking “the easy way out” sounds negative and critical. When did busy and exhausted become status symbols and how did “ease” get such a bad rap? But what does it truly mean to take the easy way? It’s not about cutting corners, being sloppy, uncaring, or lazy…what we mean is to do things with ease, efficiency and effectiveness. Energy and time are finite resources and it can be really important to conserve both. It’s about focusing on what really matters. Here are some prompts to ask yourself: Is there an easier way to do this? What gets in my way of doing things with ease? Are there any shoulds, ought to’s, and musts showing up? What’s the payoff, what’s the cost, what’s the purpose, and what’s the why? For example, if you enjoy making a meal from scratch for your upcoming get together, then go for it. However, if that is causing you stress, then what about ordering out, having it catered, or having it be a potluck? Is the purpose of the get together to show off your culinary skills or is to enjoy your company and the time spent together?

4. Permission to slow down and savor. We tend to move at frantic, breakneck speeds, rushing from one thing to another. Not only do we exhaust ourselves when we do this, but we also miss the little things: a beautiful full moon, the way our cat curls up in the sunny spot by the window, the intricate flavors of a tasty meal. In addition, we often associate rest with “laziness.” Can we give ourselves permission to slow down, rest, and savor the moment? We love having “slow mornings” where we give ourselves an extra hour to get moving, have a homemade breakfast, and a long shower. We often recommend people lie down for 10 minutes/day. We’ve even created a challenge that we’ve dubbed #liethef — down to encourage people to rest on a daily basis.

5. Permission to be kind to yourself. In essence, don’t be a jerk to yourself. One of the greatest sources of unhappiness, anxiety, and dis-ease is critical self-talk. Often, and often unconsciously, we can be really mean to ourselves, speaking in a way we’d never speak to another. The antidote has two parts: 1) catch your negative self-talk, and 2) practice speaking to yourself with kindness and compassion. If the latter feels hard, think about what you’d say to a friend in a similar situation. Being kind to ourselves — showing up for ourselves with kindness and compassion — builds confidence and helps regulate our moods. It makes it easier to cope with hard situations.

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?

Many people view self-care as another item on their to-do list; rather than what should supersede it. That’s where giving oneself permission is important. “Lack of permission” is often one of the biggest barriers to self-care. Otherwise, we can overbook, overschedule, become perfectionistic, and/or people-please. One of the best ways to overcome this mental roadblock is to normalize meeting your needs and give yourself compassion. Everyone has needs and having needs doesn’t make you needy. Rather than being self-critical, being self-compassionate is helpful in taking care of yourself over the long-term.

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

If not now, when?

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?

“Clear is kind” from Brene’ Brown. This is such a simple concept but it’s not easy to do. Creating and having clarity is key to your relationship with yourself and others. Knowing what you need from yourself and others and being able to communicate that in a clear and kind way is an incredibly powerful skill.

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 :-)

Brene Brown, Nedra Tawwab, Lori Gottlieb, Glennon Doyle, Robin Arzon — all of these women are so powerful and are great models of how to live life with meaning, compassion, and clarity.

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

We’d love for interested readers to join our email list and follow us on social media to stay up-to-date on our latest offerings. You can connect with us at or

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.