Timing is important. Sometimes great ideas hit at the wrong time, and it doesn’t mean the idea was bad, it might just need to wait for its moment to shine.
Audrey Grunst is the owner and therapist at Simply Bee. Audrey earned her MSW at Loyola University Chicago in 2011 and is certified in Change Management from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. Audrey combines over 10 years of clinical experience with her business background to help others improve mental health including anxiety, perfectionism, and performance. She is the owner of SHEBE, online community for female athletes and was the former mental performance coach for Northwestern Women’s Volleyball Program.
She presents on a variety of issues including emotional intelligence and anxiety management. Audrey has presented at over 100 different schools, nonprofits, and conferences.
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?
Hi! My name is Audrey Grunst and I am a licensed clinical social worker and have been in the field for ten years. After experiencing significant anxiety in college as a division I player who was forced to take a medical release due to injuries, I discovered the significance of social work in our society and wanted to be a positive influence for others going through traumatic times.
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?
My biggest experience in the field was working with both victims and offenders in a restorative justice program. I learned that in order to truly stop the chain of violence, we must see the offenders as humans and help them stop abusing others. The hardest part about working with offenders is the judgment from family and friends who believe offenders should be locked away forever, but the reality of that is not so simple. After working in the restorative justice program, I learned that it is easy to judge and criticize others from the outside, but once you are inside their minds, it is much more complex and those people who are abused were abused themselves. It’s a cycle that can only stop if the abuser is treated with ethical and compassionate care. A lot of people don’t want to hear that, but it is true.
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?
The biggest mistake I made early on was the false belief that I could change people. I learned that only people can change themselves and it is not my responsibility to do it for them. I am a guide on their journey, and they have to make decisions and live with the consequences of them, their change is not my responsibility.
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?
I have had some major influences in my life, mostly family and educators. My mother and father taught me I could do anything I set my mind to, and I am grateful for that upbringing. I also had teachers who gave me tough love and pushed me when I needed it. My 4th grade teacher threw away my science fair project and told me to start over, I guess she didn’t think separation of oil and water was sophisticated enough! I had to go home and redo it the night before the fair. I was so angry with her, but I appreciate that now. The other teacher who impacted me was my middle school coach who gave me confidence in volleyball. She told me to “hit the ball to the back of the wall and someday it will go in” and since then I have been known to go for the big hits no matter what, I like that about myself now as a therapist and business owner. Finally, my college professor who told me I was meant to be a social worker and despite me disagreeing with him at the time, he was right, and he helped me get into graduate school.
Ok perfect. Now 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?
The work I am doing to impact mental health and wellness is on a macro social level through the group practice I know, Simply Bee. It focuses on holistic mental health wellness through nutrition, yoga, and therapy. We serve hundreds of people a week and have been open for three years. We also create community level workshops and events to expose the public to mental wellness in a way that is bright, hopeful, and welcoming. It’s a spin on mental health that we haven’t seen before, and people are attracted to it.
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.
There are five steps that can help people become more resilient. This is found in our Growth & Resiliency Model © at Simply Bee. First, it’s important to be aware of your thoughts and feelings, second observe what you see with mindfulness, third try to respond rather than react your thoughts and feelings, fourth make a plan to communicate what you see and finally grow upon that by reflecting and improving for the future. For example, if I am frustrated and want to fire off an email to my team at work, I first want to ask myself “what am I thinking and feeling?” second I want to observe that by stepping back and letting it sit with my for a moment, third I want to respond to my frustration within myself before I over react, fourth I should make a plan (wait to send the email), and the execute that plan and finally reflect on how I did and tweak it for the future. This five-step model can help anyone who is in a challenging moment. After ten years of clinical work, I have developed this model based on the clients and training I have received, which anyone can use. Once you learn it, it’s very easy to implement.
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 start a movement, it would be that everyone would use the Growth & Resiliency Model © in situations that trigger emotions. We don’t have a lot of models that help people in acute situations when they are struggling to manage their emotions.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
Five things I wish people would have told me (or did tell me and I didn’t listen…)
- Be patient. Even if you have a great idea, it doesn’t mean others will take to it right away, but it also doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea.
- Timing is important. Sometimes great ideas hit at the wrong time, and it doesn’t mean the idea was bad, it might just need to wait for its moment to shine.
- Mindfulness is the key to happiness.
- Life is unfair.
- Follow our value system when making decisions.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
Mental health is the most important current event happening in my life. It is my life’s mission to end the stigma and inspire every single person to see their mental health as health rather than an “illness”.
Thank you for these fantastic insights!