Do more of what works. We all have behaviors that serve us, but often times we aren’t tuned into those things consciously, and more than that, we don’t lean into them when we need them most. For example, when we are tired after a long day, we may know that exercise gives us energy and mental clarity, but instead we reach for alcohol to soothe us. We may know the behaviors that are supportive and the ones that aren’t, but we have to make the intentional decision to choose the things that serve us instead of what feels easiest in the moment.
As a part of my series about “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Darcie Brown.
Darcie Brown, JD, MA, LMFT is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, wellness coach, and creator of Rooted Wellness Collective, a virtual wellness space (launching in February 2021). Darcie is passionate about living a holistic lifestyle and supporting others in understanding themselves on a deeper level and creating a life that makes them feel content and fulfilled. Darcie has been quoted as a wellness expert in Women’s Health, Bustle, Better by Today, and Best Life and has contributed articles to media outlets including Elite Daily and U.S. News & World Report. She lives in San Diego, CA with her husband and their rescue dog, Piper.
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 story about how you first got involved in fitness and wellness?
My journey to getting involved in wellness started when I ended a long-term relationship and moved across the world to Bali. Before that, I had been working as an attorney and was deeply unhappy with my career. Living in Bali allowed me the space to get out of my head and shift my priorities. I explored the island, met new people, and spent time in nature. It was there that I started my journey to reconnecting with myself, parts of me that I had lost in my career as an attorney.
When I returned home to San Diego, I made the decision to start a new career as a therapist and started graduate school for marriage and family therapy the following fall.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
Thus far, the most interesting shift that my career has taken has been in birthing the idea of Rooted Wellness Collective. When I started my career as a therapist, I knew I wanted to make a bigger impact than seeing clients individually. While I find that work extremely fulfilling, I wanted to have a greater reach. 2020 brought a lot of challenges for the world and highlighted the tremendous need for more accessible mental health and wellness resources. While I’ve thrown around the idea of hosting wellness retreats, I knew those would be out of reach for many people as well. I decided that I could reach the greatest number of people by creating a low cost, whole self wellness platform, where members would have access to tools and information with the potential to transform their lives from the ground up. It would be a space where they would also be able to gain the tools to cope with hard times and mental health issues, like anxiety and depression, as well as learn more about who they are and what they want to get out of life.
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?
Probably wishing that I was farther ahead than I was. Since I had a previous career, many of my friends were already well into their careers and thriving just as I was changing my career from attorney to therapist. I spent a lot of mental energy trying to push my new career forward faster than reality would allow. The biggest takeaway from that has been to honor where I’m at and respect that my path is different than anyone else’s. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I hadn’t first practiced law, so I’ve learned to be grateful for my circuitous pathway to becoming a therapist and appreciative of the lessons it taught me.
Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fitness and wellness field? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?
My authority in this field starts with commitment to my own wellbeing and using that as fuel to help others. I have learned over time that I’ll only be able to help others if I’m able to model whole self wellness in my own life. From there, I’ve let my voice be heard. I’ve contributed my thoughts, ideas, and perspectives to countless media articles and podcasts and written my own articles on wellness which have been featured in various media publications. I have years of experience providing both individuals and couples therapy services and wellness coaching. As mentioned earlier, I’m about to launch a virtual wellness collective, Rooted, to provide support and information to an even greater audience. I’m so honored to be able to contribute in so many ways on topics that I’m so passionate about.
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?
My husband is a constant source of energy, inspiration, and support with encouraging words and his knowledge of all things tech (he’s created my website and the Rooted platform). He is someone who very rarely gets caught up in comparison and does an amazing job of staying focused on his own life, without the noise of what other people are doing. He talks through ideas with me and is so supportive while also offering feedback on how I can ensure that I’m sticking with my vision and creating realistic and achievable goals. I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today without his love, encouragement, and (just keeping it real) web design and marketing skills.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, exercise more, and get better sleep etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?
- Absorbing without discerning: Many of us absorb messages from society without actually pausing to consider if it’s a change that we actually want to make, if it’s a change that fits for us. We need to remember that if we aren’t deeply connected to any particular change, we likely won’t be able to follow through as it’s not something that actually matters to us.
- Not knowing your “why”: When you decide to make a change, the first step should always be defining your why. What’s the reason behind making that change? What deeply connects you to it? We often want to rely on motivation as our fuel, but motivation is unreliable, so we need to know our why. That’s what keeps us going even when making a change gets hard.
- Not believing we are worth it: Many people get caught up in believing that they aren’t worthy of living the life of their dreams. They think it’s meant only for “other” people, and feelings of “not good enough” can often hold people back from saying yes to making positive changes.
Can you please share your “5 Non-Intuitive Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”? (Please share a story or an example for each, and feel free to share ideas for mental, emotional and physical health.)
- Getting present first thing in the day. Don’t start with your day with your phone. Determine which behaviors will ground you in the present and start your day with clarity of mind — whether it’s reading for pleasure, mindfully drinking your coffee, or meditating. If you’re not sure, gather a list and then give them a try and see which practices resonate the most.
- Drink more water. We all know that water is essential, but most Americans are dehydrated. Water contributes to mental clarity as well as providing mental and physical energy. Aim to consume at least half your weight in ounces of water each day.
- Get outside as much as possible. Fresh air, sunshine, and being in nature are integral for creativity, presence, curiosity, and wonder. These are the building blocks of connecting with our spiritual self and helping us to refocus our priorities. It also keeps us experiencing new things which slows down time and helps us to stay present, instead of living in the future as many of us do.
- Embrace the life you have. This is the starting point for changing your life in the ways you wish. When you focus on wishing you had a different life, you won’t be able to make changes because you’re stuck in comparison. You were dealt a certain hand in life, and the only way to move forward to create the life you wish is to embrace your reality and then get started working to change it.
- Do more of what works. We all have behaviors that serve us, but often times we aren’t tuned into those things consciously, and more than that, we don’t lean into them when we need them most. For example, when we are tired after a long day, we may know that exercise gives us energy and mental clarity, but instead we reach for alcohol to soothe us. We may know the behaviors that are supportive and the ones that aren’t, but we have to make the intentional decision to choose the things that serve us instead of what feels easiest in the moment.
As an expert, this might be obvious to you, but I think it would be instructive to articulate this for the public. Aside from weight loss, what are 3 benefits of daily exercise? Can you explain?
- Mental clarity: movement has a beautiful way of clearing out the cycle of thoughts in the mind. I love starting my day with movement because of its ability to generate more mental space and peace rather than with an overwhelming amount of thoughts and jumping ahead to the day’s to-dos.
- Presence: movement grounds you in the present moment. It forces you to focus on the here and now, and being with yourself right where you are. Many of us seek to become more present, instead of constantly living in the future and thinking about what’s next. Exercise narrows the attention to the physical movement and shifts us from being mind-focused to being body-focused.
- Energy: while we are often tempted not to exercise when we feel depleted of energy, the interesting paradox about exercise is that it can actually give us energy. I like to say, “Lethargy breeds lethargy.” If you spend all day sitting on the couch or at your desk, you’ll likely feel lethargic which makes you not want to get up and move. But actually movement is the very thing that you need to inject energy into your mind and body. It’s so important to move throughout the day if you want to stay energized and focused in your life.
For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend that are absolutely critical?
- Walking: this type of movement is highly underrated. Virtually everyone can walk, so it’s a form of exercise that’s easy to add into your day. It’s low impact so it doesn’t stress, overwhelm, or tax the body, and it also has the power to be a wonderful mindful exercise if you allow yourself to tune into everything that’s around you — sights, sounds, smells — as you walk.
- Yoga: Yoga is my favorite type of exercise for clearing my mind, grounding myself in the moment, and being present with myself. I used to be very resistant to yoga because I’m not naturally flexible, but I’ve found that it’s challenged me to push myself to do something I’m not good at, and I’ve found so many benefits to mixing up the types of movement I do. Yoga also helps you to tap into the parasympathetic nervous system which is when the body is in a calm and relaxed state — amazing for mind, body, and spirit!
- Intuitive movement: put on some music and just dance in a way that feels good for you. As a society, we care SO much about what other people think. But it can be freeing and empowering to put on music that you love and move your body intuitively. Not only does this type of movement build confidence, but it also helps you to remove the excuses for moving your body every single day because you can literally do it anytime, anywhere.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. I have fallen into the trap of perfectionism and have worked really hard to cultivate more presence in my life. We miss so much when we focus on being perfect. This book helps you to shift away from the “do more” mindset that so many of us have (myself included at times!) to be more present-focused which is so essential in finding more joy, peace, and contentment in our lives.
You are a person of enormous 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. :-)
The movement would be that no one would be afraid to ask for help out of fear of being judged. While we each need to be responsible for our own healing and growth, we can’t do it alone. Humans are wired for connection, and we need others to feel whole and complete. I would love to see a culture where seeking helping from a therapist or coach is normalized, and that no one feels like they are too ashamed to ask for help when they need it.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am…then I can change. — Carl Rogers
We all have things about ourselves that we don’t like or wish we could change. But when we resist them, when we believe that those things prevent us from loving and accepting ourselves just as we are, it’s impossible to create the space to allow ourselves to change. The shame keeps us from being able to see those parts that actually need the most attention. One of my focuses in my work with clients is to cultivate more self-acceptance in their lives and that often starts with letting go of the belief that accepting ourselves as we are precludes us from changing. It’s actually the opposite. As Carl Rogers says, we must curate a practice of self-acceptance that welcomes all parts of ourselves if we want to be able to do the work to change.
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? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)
Brené Brown — what this woman has done is so incredible — from her books, to her Netflix special, to her Ted talks, Brené has a way of speaking to us like she’s having a one-on-one conversation. Her research on all aspects of being human, especially on shame and perfectionism, have been transformative in my own a life in terms of helping me to become more open with my own struggles and loosening the grip on perfectionism. Brené, let’s chat!
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Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!