Be in the here and now. Most of us tend to live in the past, present in our problems or the future. It’s really important to become aware of your thoughts and observe them for what they are. Be mindful, accept them and stop resisting them. When we learn to observe them from a distance, we learn to detach. We can get back to focusing on the here and now the present- what we are doing.
As a part of my series about the “5 Things Anyone Can Do To Optimize Their Mental Wellness”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Roula Selinas.
Roula Selinas is an author, inspirational speaker and life coach. Roula’s tenacity is evident in the huge adversity she has faced with two cancers, facing complications, setbacks physical, mental and emotional challenges. What could have easily broken her made her stronger. Having triumphed in the face of adversities Roula inspires and empowers with techniques to overcome self-limiting beliefs and challenges helping you overcome any crisis and transform your life to thrive again.
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 backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
After I got leukemia in 2007 I wanted to write a book to help people overcome crises, and their darkest days to have hope that things do get better if we are committed, resilient, persistent and determined. We can thrive again. Stronger, You Can Overcome and Bounce Back from Adversity is a 7 step guide to heal from within was published in 2015. I spent years training to become a speaker and had to overcome my fear of public speaking. Since then my aim is to help others, inspire and empower them to have self-belief and learn tools and resilience techniques to reach their goals. If I can do it so can they. Mental health, depression, anxiety and substance abuse are at all time highs. We can learn ways to become unstuck and move forward. It took me many years to learn these techniques and I am a real-life experience teacher with a diploma in life skills counselling. I know the dark days, I know what it’s like to be physically weak and have to deal with chronic fatigue and two cancers, constant setbacks, complications with the bone marrow transplant, viruses, infections, almost going blind having to have four eye operations, damage to my kidney, a near-death from pneumonia, a mini-stroke and a second cancer ten years post-transplant due to the radiation to name just a few. The list is exhaustive and I have built resilience. I believe resilience is a skill that needs to be learnt it’s not something we are born with. It’s a skill we can cultivate and build just like a muscle. The life skills are essential to cope with life and any crisis and be able to thrive again. I am living proof they work. I have spoken at Herstory Women’s Global Empowerment conference, Ignite Brisbane, podcasts, radio, webinars and other platforms. I have just released my second book ‘The Perfect Storm’ it’s a book of hope part of an anthology for the Herstory Women’s Empowerment Conference.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?
My parents are my rocks they were there for me during my hardest times, their emotional support helped me. I read a lot and got inspiration from many authors. Leon Nacson from Balboa Press was very helpful in publishing my first book. Rostrum GC Club 27 were very encouraging and offered a lot of support when I started public speaking and so did Sam Cawthorn from Speakers Institute.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I had a girl come up to me once after I had spoken at an event and she asked me if it was really true did I go through all of the things I said as she couldn’t believe it as I looked so healthy. I started laughing and said ‘Why would I make that up, I wish it wasn’t true’ and she said I was so inspiring and it had given her hope again.
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?
I never had a book launch I was going through a very traumatic and difficult time as I was separating from my husband and moved house three times. It would have been better to have a book launch to promote the book but I had too many things going on.
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 parents are my rocks they were there for me during my hardest times. I read a lot and got inspiration from many authors. Leon Nacson from Balboa Press was very helpful in publishing my first book. Rostrum GC Club 27 were very encouraging and offered a lot of support when I started public speaking and so did Sam Cawthorn from Speakers Institute.
What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?
I had to learn to press the stop button, because I am a very goal orientated, driven and motivated person. Learn to take time out, rest if you’re too tired or exhausted. Remember there is always tomorrow. I have chronic fatigue but it’s better than it was after the cancer it took a long time for that to get better. Take some down time and listen to your body as clues whether you’re pushing yourself too hard.
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
Be encouraging and if you want to get the best out of people, be thankful and appreciative for everything they do for you or your company. Praise and show your appreciation instead of constantly picking the faults. Treat others the way you want to be treated. In counselling the client is the expert, recognise the divinity and strengths of those around you.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Mental health is often looked at in binary terms; those who are healthy and those who have mental illness. The truth, however, is that mental wellness is a huge spectrum. Even those who are “mentally healthy” can still improve their mental wellness. From your experience or research, what are five steps that each of us can take to improve or optimize our mental wellness. Can you please share a story or example for each.
- Be in the here and now. Most of us tend to live in the past, present in our problems or the future. It’s really important to become aware of your thoughts and observe them for what they are. Be mindful, accept them and stop resisting them. When we learn to observe them from a distance, we learn to detach. We can get back to focusing on the here and now the present- what we are doing.
- Let things go — don’t sweat the small stuff it’s not worth it. I have learnt not to waste my time on trivial petty things and waste my energy on them. Life is too short.
- Eat a balanced diet, increase wholesome and natural foods. I know we have all heard this but it’s so important to help us feel better and clearer and have more energy and mental wellness. I find I can concentrate longer and better when I eat well, I feel clearer and I am more productive when I eat well.
- Exercise or do something active. I find I cope better with things when I exercise. Doing yoga, Pilates, going to the gym or walking helps my mental and emotional state and I feel better for it and I find I am in a much better mood. Also I am not as anxious or stressed when I exercise, so for me exercising helps me mentally as much as physically and emotionally. So whether it’s zumba, kayaking, getting on your bike or walking, do what you enjoy.
- Acceptance — learn to accept the things that have happened in our life that we may not like, or wished they didn’t happen. It doesn’t mean we have to like what’s happened to us, but we must eventually accept them to make peace with it and move forward. Don’t play the victim. It’s not what happens to us, but who we become that is the most important in life. You will find you will be a lot happier and peaceful when you can do this.
Much of my expertise focuses on helping people to plan for after retirement. Retirement is a dramatic ‘life course transition’ that can impact one’s health. In addition to the ideas you mentioned earlier, are there things that one should do to optimize mental wellness after retirement? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Keep busy doing something you enjoy. Have a hobby, it so important whether it’s gardening, sewing or painting.
- Keep active physically, use it or lose it.
- Read or learn something new, you’re never too old to learn.
- Don’t focus on the past, live in the present. Accept and make peace and forgive people, not for them but for you, so you can have happiness and peace.
- Don’t isolate yourself, join a social group
I worked for My Aged care for a while and the healthiest, happiest people did most of the things themselves, they were active, they walked or exercised, they cooked and cleaned their house or kept their garden, and went to social groups or had family help and interaction. Those who didn’t have help had interaction with others socially in meetup groups. Those were physically challenged or couldn’t do all of the things or drive anymore had help and went to social groups. We all need each other for survival and support.
How about teens and pre teens. Are there any specific new ideas you would suggest for teens and pre teens to optimize their mental wellness?
- Learn life skills and resilience skills. Resilience is a skill we can learn to build and cultivate. Life is not fair or easy and we need to have the coping skills to be able to endure, overcome and get through life’s challenges, crisis and obstacles to reach the goals that we want. Remember the bad days don’t last, things really do get better when we persist and find a light at the end of a dark tunnel. Believe, hold onto hope and have faith and you can do anything you set your mind to, you are much stronger than you think, I am living proof of this. Don’t believe your negative thoughts they are just thoughts, it doesn’t mean they are real, your mind will trick you to believe things. Many times they are irrational thoughts.
- Find what you want to do and go for it.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
There are so many books that made an impact on me. Jim Rohn ‘The Five Major Piece of Life’s Jigsaw Puzzle’, Napoleon Hill, Florence Scovel Shinn, made a big impact on me and resonated with me. I have read their books over and over. Every time I read it I understood it better, or it just reminded me. Study and find out everything you can about what you want to learn.
You are a person of great 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. 🙂
It’s really important to teach young children, pre-teens and teens life skills and resilience skills. I had to learn all these things myself through years of study and also through life experience. It will help decrease suicide, help with mental health to be happier and give them the tools they need to cope with life, because life is not fair and it’s not easy. There are many obstacles, challenges and mountains to climb to achieve what we want in life.
My resilience program would be in schools as part of the curriculum and my books would also be available in primary, high schools and universities as part of the curriculum across Australia. To help arm children and teens with life skills and resilience skills to be able to deal with life better. Our children are our future these skills need to be taught as young as possible. Achieving our dreams and goals also has many obstacles and challenges to overcome.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
‘Stand Guard at the Door of Your Mind’ Jim Rohn. It’s really important what you let into your mental computer as this affects the way you feel, which determines your outcomes. I’ve been through very dark days in my life, losing my friend, in school my brother and also when I was going through cancer twice and the separation from my partner of 28years and the family unit after cancer. This resonates with me because we can manage what we let into our mental computer. We can become aware of things so when we recognize when we are having negative thoughts we can slowly change them back to better feeling thoughts. We are human and we have a range of emotions, awareness is key to changing what we let into our mind and what we focus on.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
and they can subscribe to my website www.roulaselinas.com and YouTube channel under roula selinas
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!