Women In Wellness: Nirmala Bijraj Of Aligned Self On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing

An Interview With Wanda Malhotra

Wanda Malhotra
Authority Magazine
7 min readNov 15, 2023


Be kind to yourself. We are usually our harshest critics, and it’s important that we are kind in the way we speak to ourselves.

Today, more than ever, wellness is at the forefront of societal discussions. From mental health to physical well-being, women are making significant strides in bringing about change, introducing innovative solutions, and setting new standards. Despite facing unique challenges, they break barriers, inspire communities, and are reshaping the very definition of health and wellness. In this series called women in wellness we are talking to women doctors, nurses, nutritionists, therapists, fitness trainers, researchers, health experts, coaches, and other wellness professionals to share their stories and insights. As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Nirmala Bijraj, LMHC.

Nirmala is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in New York and Florida, known for her eclectic therapy approach tailored to each client’s unique needs. As an immigrant who journeyed from Guyana, South America, to Toronto, Canada, and eventually to Queens, New York, and Orlando, FL, Nirmala’s life experiences have enriched her ability to connect, communicate, and build relationships with people from various backgrounds, enhancing her clinical practice. With a diverse background in hospitals, non-profits, and private practice, she draws upon extensive experience to provide effective counseling, she credits her multicultural life experiences for her ability to skillfully navigate, connect, communicate, and form deep connections with individuals from diverse backgrounds, greatly informing her clinical work.

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?

My career journey began immediately after college, I went to grad school for clinical mental health counseling and subsequently gained experience working in a hospital setting, as well as with various nonprofit organizations and a group private practice before branching out into my own private practice. I’ve worked in mental health for over a decade, and through that process, have gained a niche working with non-monogamous, open and polyamorous relationships, and a separate specialty in grief counseling. They may seem very different, but with every relationship in our lives comes a loss in some way or another throughout our life, and that’s how the grief counseling specialty arose.

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 most interesting experience in my career so far has been the transition to teletherapy during the pandemic. Prior to this, I operated physical locations in New York City, but not having a commute allowed me to reclaim that time. It provided me with the opportunity to establish healthier habits (sleeping, eating, exercising, etc.) and to deeply reflect on my life, identifying what I truly aspire to achieve and how I want my life to take shape, which, for me, was one of the most significant outcomes of the pandemic.

It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about a mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I prefer to view these instances not as mistakes, but as valuable learning experiences in life. When we make decisions, we often believe we are choosing the best option at that moment, and it’s only later that we may realize it didn’t unfold as planned, leading us to label it as a mistake. One of those experiences for me was the delay in transitioning to private practice because I was burning out in the nonprofit and hospital world. It became clear that I needed to go back to my roots and connect with clients again, which I found lacking in administrative roles. The second burnout episode occurred just before the pandemic and during its initial year. This repetition highlighted the importance of achieving balance and avoiding overwork. I think the biggest lesson I took away from these experiences is that we sometimes unintentionally repeat our past choices, often without recognition, and that it’s essential to recognize that it’s okay to adapt, make new decisions, and adjust our actions to achieve a better sense of balance in our lives.

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 utilize a holistic approach when it comes to health and wellness encompassing various facets of an individual’s well-being. My focus extends beyond mental health to include physical well-being, sleep quality, daily habits, dietary choices, and social interactions. All of these areas are interconnected and play a pivotal role in creating a healthy life. I don’t really know how it makes a bigger impact in the world at large, but through this holistic approach, my clients experience notable improvements in their well-being, which, in turn, extends to positively influence the people they engage with in their daily lives.

Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing?

1 . Improving your sleep. Creating a consistent sleep schedule is an important part of improving your well-being. This can help to keep your energy levels stable, so you can tackle whatever comes your way. We are able to make better decisions, regulate our emotions better, and are less irritable leading to better interactions with others when we are less tired.

2 . Exercise. You don’t have to hit the gym every day, just a short walk is enough to gain the benefits. This isn’t for weight loss, exercise is a powerful tool that positively impacts your hormones, sleep quality, emotional well-being, and energy levels.

3 . Connect with Nature. If you can take that walk outside, that would be great, you’d be accomplishing two goals with one action. Spending time in nature provides a multitude of mental health benefits. Being in nature can reduce stress and lower cortisol levels, enhance mood, and decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression. It sharpens mental clarity, fosters creativity, and contributes to feelings of happiness and well-being.

4 . Staying connected to friends and family. Staying connected to family and friends offers vital emotional support, reduce feelings of isolation, and provides a sense of belonging. These social connections can reduce the risk of mental health issues, alleviate stress, and enhance resilience.

5 . Practicing mindfulness. Practicing mindfulness means being in the present moment. It can be intentional through meditation or by doing activities that capture your full attention such as cooking or dancing or anything that you find to hold your attention.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I believe it’s important for everyone to recognize the connections between mental well-being, physical health, and social connections, as they collectively impact our overall health.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

  1. Don’t let your insecurity stop you from doing something. We are all uncertain and insecure when we first start something, and we only get better and gain confidence by doing it.
  2. It is my firm belief that is there is no such thing as normal. Everyone is unique and different and that’s what makes everyone great.
  3. Be kind to yourself. We are usually our harshest critics, and it’s important that we are kind in the way we speak to ourselves.
  4. Most things in life are not going to go as expected or as we planned, and it’s important to learn how to pivot and adapt to unexpected changes in life.
  5. It doesn’t all have to happen right now, sometimes when we make plans and set goals, we want it all to happen right away. Taking a step back and savoring the process often leads to more meaningful outcomes.

Sustainability, veganism, mental health, and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?

They are all very important topics however; mental health holds a special place in my heart because it’s at the core of what I do. Our mental well-being profoundly influences our lives, from our physical health to our external experiences. Striving to make our minds the best place to reside, and nurturing our mental health can significantly enhance the quality of our lives.

What is the best way for our readers to further follow your work online?

Thank you for taking the time to get to know me. I’d love to connect with you further. You can learn more about me and my practice at alignedself.co. You can also find me on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Thank you for these fantastic insights! We wish you continued success and good health.

About the Interviewer: Wanda Malhotra is a wellness entrepreneur, lifestyle journalist, and the CEO of Crunchy Mama Box, a mission-driven platform promoting conscious living. CMB empowers individuals with educational resources and vetted products to help them make informed choices. Passionate about social causes like environmental preservation and animal welfare, Wanda writes about clean beauty, wellness, nutrition, social impact and sustainability, simplifying wellness with curated resources. Join Wanda and the Crunchy Mama Box community in embracing a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle at CrunchyMamaBox.com.



Wanda Malhotra
Authority Magazine

Wellness Entrepreneur, Lifestyle Journalist, and CEO of Crunchy Mama Box, a mission-driven platform promoting conscious living.