Women In Wellness: Suzy Glaskie of Peppermint Wellness On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing
An Interview With Candice Georgiadis
Keep your boundaries strong around your own time and energy. I’ve often got so caught up in trying to help others get their wellbeing back that I’ve neglected mine in the process. I’m a lot kinder to myself now and understand that the more I offer myself self-care, the better I’m able to inspire others to do the same.
As a part of my series about women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Suzy Glaskie.
Suzy Glaskie is a Functional Medicine Health Coach and founder of Peppermint Wellness — a practice dedicated to helping people to regain their emotional, mental and physical health.
At the age of 40, she walked away from the successful PR agency she’d founded, turning her back on a 22-year career in marketing. She’d been buckling under the unrelenting stress of juggling the role of managing director with bringing up her three kids.
After struggling with the bereavement of losing her Dad, Suzy trained in EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique, also known as tapping), having been blown away by how it helped her to move past the grief. She then followed her heart to train as a health coach and launched her practice, Peppermint Wellness, in 2015. She now works with individuals, groups and companies (including Home Bargains, Health Shield, Santander, N Brown, Beaverbrooks and O2) to empower people to take back their health, feel comfortable in their own skin — and start to thrive.
Suzy also hosts the Wellness Unwrapped podcast, which has a loyal following of listeners around the globe.
She recently launched her own Wellness Unwrapped app. This features a free 5 Days to Calm programme in which she shares her top self-calming tools, including tapping. These are super-simple, quick-to-learn practices that bring you back to feeling calm and grounded within minutes.
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?
I’d always been interested in holistic health, but ended up following a different career path straight from university. I landed a job in PR, and worked for eight years at a pan-European agency, using my degree in French and Spanish. Ironically, it involved working for the food industry — so I got a first-hand insight into the manipulation that goes on to persuade us to buy things which are disastrous for our health.
For a short time in my early 30s, I was juggling a relentlessly stressful job with looking after a baby and a three-year-old who seemed to take it in turns to be ill. I was desperate to be the consummate professional I’d always been — but, grappling with chronic sleep deprivation, I was falling apart at the seams. My weight plummeted and I was struck by all manner of weird ailments, including a horrible red eye that refused to heal…until the day that I finally resigned.
When I hit 40, I felt I had really reached the end of my career in PR and my heart was no longer in it. By then, I was running a very busy, successful agency as founder and managing director and was finding it tough to juggle this with bringing up my three children. At the same time, there was a growing inner pull for me to change path. When my dad passed away around ten years ago, I got stuck in grief and was helped by someone who did EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) with me. I was blown away by how transformative it was. I knew straight away that I wanted to be able to use it to help others in the way I’d been helped. So Dad’s passing was the catalyst for me to finally pivot and start afresh by training in EFT. From there, I trained as a health coach and founded my own practice, Peppermint Wellness, and I’ve never looked back!
I’m far calmer, happier and more focused now at 51 than I was at 31 or 41. Back then, I was attempting to do the impossible and was wrecking my health in the process. I’m now privileged to leverage my experience to empower others to look after their own health — mentally, physically and emotionally.
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?
It’s been really interesting to switch so drastically from one career to another. One minute I was winning industry awards for PR campaigns for confectionary clients…and then I was giving talks alongside doctors to warn people about the toxic effects of sugar and how the food industry manipulates our taste buds and wallet. That turnaround was very surprising to a lot of people who’d seen my agency thrive on promoting junk food. It’s taught me that you’re never stuck. You can change course completely in mid-life and follow your true passion. I now look back on all those years working with the food industry and am grateful for them because it’s given me an insider’s view that I can share with everyone else.
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?
Once my own eyes were opened to healthy eating, I think I mistakenly assumed that the rest of my family would automatically fall in with my new path: that they’d see the light and adopt the lifestyle habits I now had. But my new career came as a real adjustment for my kids and they resented seeing the cupboard bare of sugary breakfast cereals. I think they would have benefited from a more softly-softly approach. It taught me that you just can’t rush people into making lifestyle changes and that it’s important to play the long-game.
When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
Unfortunately, we live in a time when chronic health is rife. So unless we take active steps to optimise our wellbeing, we’re overwhelmingly likely to be dragged down by the environment that we live in, which puts us on a conveyor belt to poor mental health and chronic disease.
Research shows that 80 to 90% of the conditions that drive us to a GP visit are rooted in our lifestyle. Changing lifestyle habits is really challenging — especially when people feel stressed, exhausted and overwhelmed. That’s where health coaching comes in: it’s been described as “the missing link” in healthcare. It’s the bridge between people wanting to get themselves healthy — and them actually taking the actions necessary to make that happen.
As a Functional Medicine Certified Health Coach, I gently guide and support people through the process of making small, sustainable lifestyle changes which radically improve their health and wellbeing and slash their risk of developing a chronic disease.
I also hold corporate wellness workshops for companies nationally and internationally and I see professionals at every level who are struggling to get through the day and are using caffeine and sugar as crutches. It’s remarkable to see the changes in their productivity, mood, mental focus and energy levels once they’re empowered to care for their own wellbeing through simple lifestyle changes.
All the research shows that making changes to our lifestyle is so much easier when we do it as part of a like-minded group — that’s why I’ve put community at the heart of my online programmes. The group sessions are welcoming, warm, non-judgemental spaces where every participant feels safe to be vulnerable and share their struggles.
I’ve also launched my own app, Wellness Unwrapped, and developed an app-based group coaching programme that is a hybrid of self-paced learning and habit trackers, together with live, weekly coaching.
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.
Manage your blood sugar
I used to be ruled by my blood sugar levels, and I didn’t even know it. At work every day, after my breakfast of a bagel or cereal, I’d suddenly turn white, get very shaky and go from mild-mannered and helpful to hangry, cranky, irritable and unable to think straight. It was only when I retrained as a health coach that I realised this was a self-inflicted blood sugar crash. It’s been a revelation for me to understand how to manage my blood sugar and I’m passionate about giving these keys to everyone else.
I always advise people to ditch the breakfast cereals and all the other processed junk that’s pitched as a “healthy start to the day”. Choose a high-quality protein and some good fats: these will keep you feeling full and help keep your blood sugar stable.
Prioritise your sleep
In our 24/7, constantly wired culture, many of us are blithely sacrificing precious sleep without realising that it’s wrecking every aspect of our health and wellbeing.
Most of us fail to prepare for sleep in the way we need (remember as little kids, it was “bath, book, bed”?). Working or scrolling right up until we switch out the light means that we’re trying to fall asleep in a state of stimulation when our body is still in the stress response. Instead, we need to give our mind and body the signal that it’s safe to switch off and rest now. So try doing something relaxing, away from your screens, before bedtime. For me, treating myself to reading a novel in bed has been transformational.
Establish a self-nurturing morning routine
My first waking moments used to be hearing news updates on the BBC’s Today programme and immediately being launched into anxious thoughts. I’m now careful to give myself a gentle transition to each day, spending time journaling and reading something inspiring.
I’d suggest starting small with just 3 minutes of something grounding before you launch into your day (and onto your phone): whether that’s focusing on your breathing, doing some gentle stretches or writing in a gratitude journal. It will help you to start the day with more emotional resilience to deal with whatever it throws at you.
Create firm boundaries
I used to push myself to the limit and consider any time that wasn’t constructively filled as “wasted”. I now have much better respect for the boundaries of my energy and am more choosy about what I commit yourself to. I recognise that if I take energy out of my tank, I then need to put some energy back in!
So schedule me-time into your diary — whether it’s going for a walk with a friend, doing a weekly yoga class or relaxing in a scented bath.
An ever-growing body of research is showing that spending time outdoors, especially in green spaces, is one of the fastest ways to improve your health and happiness.
I make a point of doing some stretches and gentle Qi Gong movements outside while looking at the trees before starting work.
However busy you are, get yourself outside for a regular break and dose of sunlight, which is a natural mood-lifter. Even a ten-minute walk will leave you feeling invigorated, clear-headed and with more energy to power through your things-to-do-list.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
If I could persuade everyone to adopt just one habit, it would be a daily gratitude practice. It’s no exaggeration to say that this is a practice that transforms people’s lives on every level.
Keeping a gratitude journal takes just a couple of minutes to write before bed. It’s a wonderful way to let the stresses of the day go and drift off to sleep with positive thoughts, rather than ruminating on whatever has upset, angered or frustrated you. It’s such a simple, powerful antidote which interrupts anxious thoughts and helps us to feel more optimistic.
Research has shown that people who practise gratitude consistently benefit from an astonishing range of benefits. These include everything from a stronger immune system and lower blood pressure to having higher self-worth.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
- Keep your boundaries strong around your own time and energy. I’ve often got so caught up in trying to help others get their wellbeing back that I’ve neglected mine in the process. I’m a lot kinder to myself now and understand that the more I offer myself self-care, the better I’m able to inspire others to do the same.
- A podcast sucks up huge amounts of time and effort. I launched my podcast not really realising how much time and energy each episode would take: it was a big shock finding that out. If I’d have known that beforehand, it’s possible I’d never have gone ahead with it. But it’s changed people’s lives around the world so I’m happy I dived in.
- Things take a long time to change. I was quite naïve at the beginning and thought that everyone would understand how helping people to make lifestyle chance is the answer to our epidemic of chronic disease. However, despite so much evidence showing the power of lifestyle medicine and prevention, we’re still very much stuck in a medication-based, reactive paradigm of trying to fix people once they’re broken.
- Family members don’t always appreciate you giving advice on health. It’s tough watching close relatives eat in a way that is harming them but I’ve learnt to be diplomatic and stay quiet unless asked for advice.
- There will always be more things you want to do than you can fit in. I’m constantly thinking about new ways to empower people to take back their heath and have got frustrated with myself in the past for not managing to do everything I’d like to, in the time scale I’d like to do it. I have to keep reminding myself to do one thing at a time and go in my own time.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health, and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
It would be mental health. I’m seeing ever increasing numbers of people seeking my help with anxiety and depression. Lockdown has certainly exacerbated this hugely. I’m also seeing more and more high-achieving teenagers who are drastically sleep deprived and suffering from intense anxiety and often disordered eating as they try to have it all: outstanding grades, unattainable beauty, standing on social media etc. I believe we owe it to the next generation to arm them with the tools to prioritise their own self-care.
There’s an under-appreciation of the mind-body connection: the huge impact that our daily habits have on our mental health. I think we can bring about a sea-change if we help people to prioritise sleep, move their body, spend time in nature away from screens and eat a nutritious, wholefood diet. I’m also passionate about helping people to feel better mentally through the power of community — it really is the best medicine.
With rates of anxiety exploding, I wanted to share simple self-calming techniques with as many people as possible, for free. That’s why I created a 5 Days to Calm programme on my Wellness Unwrapped app, in which I teach my top self-calming practices (including tapping). These are easy, quick-to-learn practices that bring people back to feeling calm and grounded within minutes. I believe that everyone should have these in their toolbox to help build their emotional resilience.
What is the best way for our readers to further follow your work online?
They can find me at www.peppermintwellness.co.uk.
My Wellness Unwrapped can be downloaded from the App Store and Google Play
My podcast, Wellness Unwrapped, can be found on any podcast platform, such as Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
Thank you for these fantastic insights! We wish you continued success and good health.