Create Awareness. Identify your triggers. Notice when something starts to bother you. You do this by listening to your body. Notice when you start to get too hot or too cold, when your chest tightens or there’s a lump in your throat. Bring awareness to the sensation and identify it as what it is. Instead of identifying as the emotion itself identify as the person having the experience. When you use “I am feeling” statements instead of “I am” statements you’re able to disconnect from the label and reconnect to the witness who can take action. I always make it a point to say “I am experiencing this emotion” and I describe what that experience feels like. This gives me back my power.
Asa part of my series about the “5 Things Anyone Can Do To Optimize Their Mental Wellness” I had the pleasure of interviewing Alyssa Hoffman.
Alyssa Hoffman is CEO of Fearlyss Entertainment and manager of rock and roll band Wayland. She reminds you how to fearlyssly manage every aspect of your life through shaking your ass + save your soul. Learn how to do exactly that at www.alyssahopehoffman.com
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?
The music industry chose me. I didn’t choose my career. My parents and brothers and sisters (all 5 of them) would travel across the country to see the band Wayland perform. They would literally drive to Michigan from South Carolina. I traveled for work and never made it. The first show I ever went to, I ended up on the bus at the after party, and making plans to leave on tour.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
Since starting my career the most interesting thing has been my own self development. My business has expanded my heart, my awareness, and my consciousness in ways I never would have imagined. I have created myself through creating my company.
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?
One of the funniest mistakes I ever made when first starting was thinking that I had to know it all. I look back and laugh so hard at myself for thinking that “I wasn’t qualified.” I remember sitting at lunch meetings with men who had 30 years more experience and millions of dollars of success that started out with less than what I had. I learned to always trust myself.
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 mom is single handedly the person who got me to be where I am. My mom was who took me to ballet, drove me to the bus stop that was only 100 feet away from our house so I didn’t have to stand in the cold. She took me to school, to trips, she encouraged me to follow my heart and ignore what everyone else thought. I remember calling my mom and telling her that I was going to join the band on tour and she told me I could pack her attic and leave my car with her. She has never questioned me.
What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?
The only advice anyone ever needs is to listen. Listen to your body. Listen to your gut. When you know it’s time to rest, rest. When you know it’s time to pause. Do it. Your body has the intelligence, not the mind.
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
Relationships create culture. What is your relationship to your business? To your calendar? To your employees? What is your relationship with cleaning the office? What is your relationship to yourself and your demeanor?
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.
Mental health is physical health and just like physical health requires maintenance, our mental health requires the same awareness.
Five steps that you can take to improve your mental wellness are:
- Track it. The same way you would track your health and fitness goals, you want to track your awareness. Each day I write down what my energy levels were, how I felt, and where my mood was. A few random notes on a calendar help me to find patterns and cycles within my energy. You start to notice and bring an awareness to how the environment contributes to your health and then you’re able to make necessary schedule changes.
- Create Awareness. Identify your triggers. Notice when something starts to bother you. You do this by listening to your body. Notice when you start to get too hot or too cold, when your chest tightens or there’s a lump in your throat. Bring awareness to the sensation and identify it as what it is. Instead of identifying as the emotion itself identify as the person having the experience. When you use “I am feeling” statements instead of “I am” statements you’re able to disconnect from the label and reconnect to the witness who can take action. I always make it a point to say “I am experiencing this emotion” and I describe what that experience feels like. This gives me back my power.
- Meditation. There’s a reason why everyone says to meditate, it works. Meditation is not what you think it is. You don’t have to be sitting on a mat in a yoga pose chanting and void of all thoughts. Meditation is a practice where no matter what thoughts are coming (and trust me, they come) you are able to breath and bring your awareness back to your body instead of your mind. From this place, you begin to activate your parasympathetic nervous system, AKA the part of your body that helps you emotionally regulate. This is just as important for mental health as stretching is to physical. I used to struggle to meditate for five minutes. Now, an hour goes by and I forget I have to go to work.
- Move Your Body. You are energy. Your thoughts are energy. Your emotions are energy. This energy can get trapped and stagnant and that’s what a lump in the throat, a knot in the stomach, and tightness in the chest stems from. Move your body and move the energy that wants to be released. When you move you are able to release that energy in a way that’s healthy. The mind-body connection is real, and the more you cultivate it, the bigger your muscles get- the physical ones AND the mental ones so you feel strong enough when you need to flex them. I used to feel so weak in my anxiety and depression and my triggers would collapse me to the ground. I am now able in a lot of situations to just flex my muscle and take a stance and they go away, because of the strength I have cultivated.
- Rest. The “hustle” mentality is so not for me. I don’t believe that you have to constantly be doing and producing to be who you are meant to be. In fact, the more you are able to live a balanced, grounded, life the more efficient you will be resulting in less work and definite time scheduled for rest and play. I believe that giving myself permission to take time for myself is one of the keys to my success.
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.
Retirement is a massive transition that there truly is no preparation for. There’s no “retirement prep” classes or support, and most people think that you’ll know exactly what to do once you get there. Just like having a baby, moving states, or any other major change of life requires great care, so does retirement. To optimize your mental health after retirement, be in a relationship with your retirement. In any relationship, communication is key. Communicate with yourself, “how was my day?” “Do I need some space to go out and see my friends?” Do you need your own hobbies outside of the relationship? Think of it like that and make “date nights” a priority, meaning, check in with yourself and your retirement to constantly check the temperature to see what’s needed to keep things hot.
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?
Teens and preteens are already experiencing a change with increasing hormones and unique social experiences. Mental wellness at this age is crucial because the habits that you build during these years will provide you with the foundation that you will rely on as you get older. I recommend all preteens and teenagers to make their mental wellness a priority. Be honest with your parents or teachers about what you need and don’t be afraid to ask for it. Inner-stand that you are worthy beyond your performance or results. You cultivate this through being in relationship with yourself. I recommend setting an alarm just like you would for school and every night before bed ask yourself how you felt that day, what triggered you, and what you appreciated. Start looking for ways to increase what you appreciate. Can you spend more time on those things? How about the triggers? Can you start to notice patterns and problem solve? It’s all about awareness. Teenagers are smart, they just need to be given permission.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
I love to read and one of the most important books I’ve ever read is The Four Agreements. I’ve read it multiple times and keep it on my nightstand. The actual agreements are typed out in “Notes” on my phone as my background and just the other day a friend came to town and had the same background. I knew it was a sign.
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. 🙂
Love is the greatest movement, and the only movement anyone could ever need. It takes all of us to start it within ourselves.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
My favorite life lesson quote is “Shake Your Ass and Save Your Soul” by my grandmother. My grandmother was a woman of many catchphrases with a mouth as colorful as her cooking, and this was the quote that has always stuck with me since she passed away. My grandmother would pull over on the side of the road going 60MPH to take a picture of a flower. She would count her quarters to take all the grandchildren for $1 ice cream cones so no one was left out. She invited strangers to holidays and cooked pies for the church. Anything she could do to spread joy and kindness was her mission. I hope to continue it.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!
Thank you so much.