Women In Wellness: Joelle Prevost On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing
An Interview With Candice Georgiadis
Don’t undervalue sleep and exercise. Sleep is the gateway to emotional regulation and mood control, and I call exercise “nature’s antidepressant”. If you are wanting to prioritize your mental health, start with these basic needs and then build from there. I have seen the power of sleep and exercise work wonders in clients.
As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Joelle Prevost, R.C.C.
J. L. Prevost holds a master’s degree in counseling psychology and is a registered clinical counselor (British Columbia Association of Clinical Counsellors), a licensed teacher (British Columbia Teachers’ Federation), and a passionate communication-skills coach. In private practice, Prevost works with individuals and couples experiencing communication challenges, anxiety, trauma, and chronic illness. Learn more about her book The Conversation Guide: How To Skillfully Communicate, Set Boundaries, And Be Understood at www.theconversationguide.com.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
Hello! Thank-you for having me.
Currently I’m a counsellor living in BC, Canada. I work at a high school and also run my own private practice. Before I was a counsellor, I was a high school science teacher and before that I took care of tropical fish at the Vancouver Aquarium. It’s been quite a journey!
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?
The school that I currently work at is the school I went to as a student from grade 6–12. The insight I’ve gained from being able to see this school’s community from many different roles has taught me a lot about perspective! I feel I am able to empathize with students due to really knowing the experience of being at the school as a young person.
Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When I started my private practice, I opened up my schedule too much. Even though I was working a moderate amount of hours per day, those hours would be spread out from 7am-9pm, and often my breaks weren’t long enough to do much (errands, jogging, waking the dog). Now I have a lot smaller windows for clients to book sessions so that I can do the things I need to take care of myself (and to be the best counselor I can be!).
Let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
I believe that teaching people effective communication skills help with feeling connected, increasing self esteem, and an overall increasing personal wellbeing. On a larger scale, when individual people are mentally healthier, they are able to be more compassionate and help others in their community. The ripple effect can create more conscious and compassionate members of society, thus a stronger society as a whole.
Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.
1) Make time to do nothing.
Our society’s value on productivity has us reaching for the superhuman feat of being productive during all waking hours, then leaving us feeling disappointed we can’t ‘do it all’. People have it in their minds that they ‘should’ be able to go to school or work all day, then come home and be productive for another 4–5 hours! Think about what’s realistic and give yourself some time to rest.
2) Don’t undervalue sleep and exercise.
Sleep is the gateway to emotional regulation and mood control, and I call exercise “nature’s antidepressant”. If you are wanting to prioritize your mental health, start with these basic needs and then build from there. I have seen the power of sleep and exercise work wonders in clients.
3) Be mindful of your thoughts, they aren’t always true.
As a CBT therapist, I am constantly reminding my clients (and myself) of this. The beliefs we use to make sense of — and predict- the world around us, might be untrue at times. Be aware of thoughts and challenge them for truth.
4) Set up self-care before you need it.
Have a relationship with a counsellor, have self care as part of routine, and/or figure out what actually de-stresses you before you need these things!. I constantly see people trying to add self-care into their routine for the first time when they are extremely stressed about something. This just adds more to the plate, and the self care isn’t as effective.
5) Form a community
Having people you interact with regularly and can count on when times are tough makes all the difference. Spending time cultivating strong relationships helps mental health immensely. It might be friends you play board games with, a book club, a parent and tot class, a sports team — find people who you can interact with in person on a regular basis. This is a key human need that is often unmet and can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
Free therapy for everyone! We might be a ways away from this, so more realistically, the push back against productivity-value culture. People actively taking stock of their values and living life true to their values.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
1) Use an ipad instead of taking paper notes. (I hate paper clutter, but take a lot of notes during my sessions!). And speaking of technology, I also wish I had used the Jane App a lot sooner too.
2) Even though I talk to people all day, the job of a therapist can be lonely. It’s important to have social interactions with people outside of work.
3) Book yourself vacation time. While starting my own business, I never gave myself holidays or vacation time. I have now learned that anticipating time off is a huge help for me getting through busier periods.
4) Being a good admin assistant is almost as important as being a good therapist. Running my own business, and working with vulnerable populations, I am so saddened by the amount of clients who have horror stories of counsellors not showing up, not emailing them back, and basically ghosting them. I am lucky to be an organized person naturally, but if someone isn’t, I encourage them to get help (with an assistant or software) that can help keep them accountable to the clients.
5) I had people tell me this, and I’m glad they did — save money for income tax. When you run your own business, it’s not taken off automatically, so be sure to save. I’ve had a lot of therapist friends get shocked by a huge tax bill, so I appreciated their advice so I wasn’t ever caught in the same situation.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
As a counsellor, mental health is high on that list for me. I think mental health needs to come first before people can care about much else (like how on an airplane you are expected to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others).
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
Instagram — @JLPrevost
Thank you for these fantastic insights!