…Strength: Giving up is never an option. We can always take breaks to recharge, but we must keep moving forward no matter what. Having an excellent support system of family and friends has helped me when I felt like I couldn’t go on and wanted to give up. Surround yourself with as much positive energy as you can. Say goodbye to negative vibes!
Erica Ann Coppola was born on January 10th, 1993, in Brooklyn, New York. Her most recent accomplishment was graduating with her bachelor’s degree in Communications in January 2021. Writing has always been a passion of hers, as well as advocating for the importance of taking care of your physical and mental health.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you grew up?
I grew up as an only child and was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. My parents were always supportive of anything I wanted to try, whether it was swimming, gymnastics, baseball, or anything in between. Growing up Italian American, family is everything, and they instilled me with the values of treating everyone with kindness, compassion, and respect very early on. Although I did well in school, I would often get in trouble for talking too much in class. Writing has always been a passion of mine. I was the girl who loved English class and writing papers and essays, but despised math and history. Anything that allowed me to be social and creative really excited me, as well as making new friends.
Was there a particular person or event that inspired you to live a wellness-focused lifestyle? Can you tell us about your main motivation to go all in?
For as long as I could remember, I have struggled with anxiety and depression. It was bad in my teen years and early twenties while I was in and out of college, esthetics school, working several stressful part-time jobs and trying to figure out what I wanted to do in life. Debilitating periods and PMS have also been a struggle of mine, but I didn’t really notice how severe it was until everything shut down in 2020. It was becoming a struggle to just function and get through the day. After tracking my symptoms for months, I noticed a consistent pattern that was happening right before my period and after. After doing several tests, a complete physical and getting several opinions, in August 2020, they officially diagnosed me with Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD.) Since my diagnosis, I reversed my life around and focus more on self-care and wellness. Yoga, meditation, self-care, talking with others in support groups I found online and advocating for PMDD awareness and taking care of your mental health have become so important. If I could help anyone feel like they are less alone and that there is hope and a light at the end of the tunnel, then I have accomplished something great. As of May 14th, 2021, my first self-published book “Ever Powerful” went live on Amazon through Kindle Direct Publishing. Writing a book has always been a dream of mine. I felt my story and some of the different trials and tribulations that I have faced throughout my life so far could help someone who is currently or has gone through some challenges I have faced and feel comforted.
Most people with a wellbeing centered lifestyle have a “go-to” activity, exercise, beverage, or food that is part of their routine. What is yours and can you tell us how it helps you?
Yoga and meditation have helped me greatly, especially when my anxiety and PMDD symptoms are at its peak. Yoga helps me to feel more in tune with my body, breathing and helps to sooth sore muscles and melt the tension away that is in my body. Meditation and viewing sounds baths on YouTube help me calm my mind and thoughts and take a break from the chaos of everyday life and focus on the here and now.
To live a wellness-focused life is one thing, but how did it become your career? How did it all start?
It all started with really slowing down and being in tune with my mind and body and noticing that something wasn’t right. I didn’t want to go on living this way. Health is everything and if you aren’t feeling well mentally and physically, you really aren’t living to your full potential. No one is going to turn your life around but you. We are the authors of our own lives, and we can always make a change or switch up the narrative.
Can you share a story about the biggest challenges you faced when you were first starting? How did you resolve that? What are the main lessons or takeaways from that story?
One of the biggest challenges I faced was to just start. I always knew that I wanted to write a book and possibly make a difference, but it scared me to step out of my comfort zone and put myself and my story out there. Writing papers for school and doing some creative writing is one thing but putting everything out there for everyone to read and see about the difficulties of your life is another. I didn’t want to feel judged or vulnerable. I realized that this was bigger than me and people are really struggling with mental health issues even more now since the pandemic started in 2020. Fears and doubts had to be cast aside. I decided to just dive in and go for it. Never feel you aren’t good enough or doubt yourself. You matter in this world, and you never know how you can help someone who is struggling.
Can you share with us how the work you are doing is helping to make a bigger impact in the world? Can you share a story that illustrates that?
Since my book release earlier this year, besides the overwhelming support from my amazing friends and family, I have received several messages from people that I haven’t heard from in years or never even met saying how inspired they are by my story and how strong I am. It feels good to know that I am not alone and that my story matters to other people as well. I connected with a cousin-in law that I never met through social media who struggles with anxiety and depression as well and felt less alone after reading my book. We have become close and are in contact frequently. It feels good to help others and connect with people.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
I am taking part in a Suicide Prevention Walk on Saturday, October 2nd, 2021, at a park near my home in Staten Island, New York. I always wanted to take part in something like this. It is an important cause to support. Acting is another interest I have recently discovered. I did my first role as a journalist and will be in another film that starts production next month. Never feel that you can’t do something. It is always important to challenge yourself and never limit yourself. Fear shouldn’t hold you back from doing something great and reaching your full potential.
You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Perseverance- Despite everything that I have gone through, I never and will never give up. Always move forward and push through, no matter what- even if it isn’t easy.
Determination- Sometimes we don’t understand why something is happening, but everything happens for a reason and a purpose, even if you can’t see it right now. If you set your mind to something, you can accomplish anything you want. As cliché as it sounds, it is so true. Nothing is impossible.
Strength- Let nothing break you or your spirit. I have had my difficulties, and would often stumble and get knocked down, but I always must get back up and keep moving forward.
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Let’s begin with a basic definition of terms so that all of us are on the same page. Wellness is an incredibly broad topic. How would you define the term “Wellness”? Can you explain what you mean?
In my humble opinion, “wellness” is an overall state of being and good health. Mental health and physical health go together. If you aren’t feeling well mentally, you often will experience physical symptoms along with that and vice versa. When I hear the term ‘wellness”, the saying “health is wealth” often comes to mind. This is true because without being in good health overall, you won’t be able to enjoy your life to the fullest. Life is short. We only get one chance to do all that we can and enjoy ourselves.
As an expert, this might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to expressly articulate this. Can you please share a few reasons with our readers about why focusing on our wellness should be a priority in our lives?
If you are feeling super anxious and depressed, you will not want to do anything. Life will pass you by. Instead of just surviving, you want to live. Of course, we all have our lazy days or days that we just aren’t feeling ourselves or our best, but I try to wake up with a positive mindset each day and prayer has also helped me immensely, especially during my tough times. Try to find some extra-curricular activities or hobbies that you like outside of just working or going to school. It’ll give you something to look forward to and break up the daily routine a little. Something that has helped me is using a planner for the serious stuff such as when I was in college and working but to plan fun activities or set intentions for yourself such as “Saturday I’ll make plans with a friend to see a movie” or “Sunday night I’ll do some self-care and take a bath.” This will help us to not only feel good on the inside but on the outside as well to know that we are trying to take steps in a positive direction. But also remember, if you need a day to just rest and catch up on your favorite show, or you want to have some ice cream, if that makes you feel good at that moment, just do it ☺ No judgment and don’t be so hard on yourself- we are often our worst critics.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increasingly growing understanding of the necessity for companies to be mindful of the wellness of their employees. For the sake of inspiring others, can you share steps or initiatives that companies have taken to help improve or optimize their employees’ mental and physical wellness?
I have heard of some companies offering mental health counseling for employees, implementing mental health days and of course many jobs such as the PR company that I just got hired for and start working at this month are putting employee’s safety first and allowing them to work from home mostly and only come into the office about twice a week while still monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic. I truly feel that not enough is being done and more awareness of mental health and women’s issues such as PMDD and PCOS need to be discussed more openly and at the forefront. There are some days that my physical or emotional symptoms have been so severe, it was hard to even get out of bed, let alone make it to campus or work. The problem is… how do we tell an employer that without feeling guilty or judged or that we are just being “dramatic”? I think more education and understanding in companies and schools even needs to take place from now on for sure.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The Health and Wellness Industry”? If you can, please share a story or an example for each.
1. Transparency- You have got to put it all out there! People want to hear about the good and the bad, not just the fun times. Be as authentic as you can be.
2. Compassion- Caring for other people’s feelings and respecting the fact that we are all human and sometimes people just need a positive affirmation to make it through the day.
3.Faith- Believe in yourself and your purpose. Always stand up for what you feel is right.
4. Patience- Everyone may not agree with what you believe in or what is important to you. This doesn’t mean your feelings and opinions aren’t valid and appreciated. You can’t please everyone.
5. Strength- Giving up is never an option. We can always take breaks to recharge, but we must keep moving forward no matter what. Having an excellent support system of family and friends has helped me when I felt like I couldn’t go on and wanted to give up. Surround yourself with as much positive energy as you can. Say goodbye to negative vibes!
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would promote the most wellness to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Support groups on social media are great. I belong to one on Facebook that really helps me to connect with others who suffer from PMDD as well. There are over 9,000 people in the group from all over the world who all go through the same thing each month. Some kind of event or day in particular maybe in April since that is PMDD awareness month where women, their families and friends could all get together and share stories and help to educate each other and support each other would be amazing. Maybe this could be something I could work on as well in the future – you never know. ☺
We are blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
I have been watching “Shark Tank” for as long as I could remember. Barbara Corcoran is my absolute favorite. I would love to sit down with her and have a cup of coffee at Starbucks or a girl’s brunch somewhere in Manhattan. Barbara is smart, funny, determined and doesn’t let men intimidate her. She stands up for herself and is highly successful and motivated. I would love to meet her and get some expert advice for sure!
How can our readers further follow your work online?
If you would like to check out or support my book on Amazon, this is the link: https://www.amazon.com/Ever-Powerful-Sometimes-stronger-version/dp/B094QL2Q43. You can also follow me on my private Instagram @ever_powerful and on a Facebook page I created for my book “Ever Powerful.” I would love to connect with you. ☺
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!