“Heal yourself first.” With Beau Henderson & Carly Banks

Heal yourself first. Every single day your name has to be the first thing on your list of priorities. And this doesn’t have to mean an hour at the gym or an hour in meditation. There are tools for daily detox, great sleep, more consistent energy, better digestion that you can fit into just minutes […]

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Heal yourself first. Every single day your name has to be the first thing on your list of priorities. And this doesn’t have to mean an hour at the gym or an hour in meditation. There are tools for daily detox, great sleep, more consistent energy, better digestion that you can fit into just minutes of your day. Just as you do for a productive work day, create a structure for your mornings and your evenings.

As a part of my series about the “5 Things Anyone Can Do To Optimize Their Mental Wellness” I had the pleasure of interviewing Carly Banks.

Carly is the CEO at The Habit Ayurveda, a collection of products and courses teaching the 5000-year-old study of Ayurveda (literally translated as knowledge of self), as it applies to our modern culture. Carly’s courses serve up ancient healing wisdom in digestible bites, implementable in anyone’s busy lifestyle, that result in better sleep, more energy, and mental well-being. She’s worked alongside over 1,000 women in creating a life that finally feels balanced.

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?

Iworked in construction for 10 years. The stress was immense, especially in the renovation sector. More than once I saw marriages fall apart as a result of a renovation. The takeaway? A shiny new kitchen isn’t what people need. You can’t buy happiness.

After childbirth, I was constantly exhausted but also a complete insomniac. I was 35 pounds overweight and I was always angry. Coffee and wine were my lifelines. My husband and I talked about divorce more than once. My life needed renovating.

Then I found Ayurveda. These incredibly simple, ancient tools for just feeling better. I learned how my body functions, I implemented new (actually very old) routines, just a few minutes a day. After three months I looked back and realized that first the first time in my life I felt balanced. This was what real happiness looked like. That’s when The Habit came to be.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

I’m fascinated by how often my students start or massively grow a business of their own as a result of our work together. I recently had a client tell me just how disorganized she used to be in her home life, and as a result in her business. Putting the focus on her personal well-being and creating some routines around her self-care has given her the energy and optimism to really focus on her business, leading to her most profitable month in years. Thanks to taking care of herself, she’s re-inspired in her work. It’s such a beautiful reminder that when you put yourself first, everything gets easier.

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’ve officially reinvented enough wheels to outfit a transport truck.
For years I was caught in a cycle of “be inspired, create an offer, launch it, miss the mark, throw the entire thing in the garbage and start over”. At the time I called myself a failure, I doubted my abilities, and in doing so I made things oh so much harder than they needed to be.
Now I understand more about the nuances of marketing and launches. I understand metrics. The learning curve is steep in entrepreneurship, but on the other side of each step is more confidence. You don’t just wake up one-morning understanding how to run a business. But when you figure it out, you’ll laugh at how easy it can feel.

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?

The person I have to thank most (and most often forget to) is my husband. I’ll preface this by noting that he’s never read my blog, likely never even seen my website. In many ways, he doesn’t understand what I do (and has no interest in learning). But you know what? He doesn’t need to. He trusts that my work matters. He overhears me laughing and crying on calls with my clients and course members and trusts that I’m helping them heal themselves. We went through many years of him working more hours to pay the bills while I built The Habit. This was his contribution to my clients. It’s the greatest gift he could’ve given me.

What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?

Heal yourself first. Every single day your name has to be the first thing on your list of priorities. And this doesn’t have to mean an hour at the gym or an hour in meditation. There are tools for daily detox, great sleep, more consistent energy, better digestion that you can fit into just minutes of your day. Just as you do for a productive work day, create a structure for your mornings and your evenings.

What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?

As Annie Dillard said, “How we spend our days is, how we spend our lives.” The average person will spend 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime. My advice is to approach your work life the same way you do your personal life, focusing first on what you value the most.

I have my staff (and my clients) complete a personal core values assessment, so we can work together to customize the structure of their days with those in mind (whether it means taking a dance break mid zoom meeting, starting meetings with some diaphragmatic breathing, or adjusting work hours for that class they want to take on Tuesday afternoons).

Just like a personality test, establishing an employee’s personal values helps uncover their inherent strengths, so you can place them in the right position. It also helps them feel supported as a member of the team, the result being increased productivity and very happy people.

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.

1. Allow space between meals. We have a finite amount of energy. The energy you use to digest your food is the same as the energy you use to make decisions through the day, to get up for that run, or to keep your organs functioning smoothly. When you graze or snack multiple times a day, you’ve got food sitting in multiple stages of the digestive tract. This takes a lot of your energy!

My Everyday Ayurveda Course members start their journey with “the 72 hour test”. For three days they’re asked to eat 3 meals a day with only water between. They close their kitchens at least four hours before going to bed, and breakfast takes place 16 hours after their dinner. Every single participant reports more consistent energy through the day and better sleep at night as a result.

2. Allow space from other sensory stimulation. Like meal spacing, turning off external stimulation is engaging in “Pratyahara” — sensory deprivation. In a world of over-stimulation, this yogic practice brings a haven of peace.

We all know we should be meditating but for many of us it’s hard to find the time, so I teach pratyahara as a stepping stone. Engaging in pratyahara can be as simple as turning off the radio as you drive, or choosing to let go of thoughts as you do repetitive household tasks such as putting away laundry or doing the dishes. These are often the times when the mind is lost in the whirlpool of thought Ayurveda describes as our “vrittis”. Thoughts that hold no ground in the present moment, and often get us down.

3. Engage in intermittent movement. From a stagnant body comes stagnant thought. The simple practice of moving quickly for 60–90 seconds oxygenates the body, and bathes the brain and vital organs in fresh blood. Many of my clients feel that visits to the gym or full-length workout routines aren’t possible in their busy schedules. But anyone can get up and move for 90 seconds, and the more you do it, the more you’ll want to do it.

4. Book-End your days with self care practices. A 5–7 minute practice at the beginning and end of the day can really facilitate a more positive mindset .

Here’s an easy 7-minute morning sequence:

1. Upon waking, place a smile on your face. Time — 0 minutes.
2. Drink A LOT of water, 4–5 cups, to stimulate healthy elimination. Time — 1 minute.
3. Scrape your tongue, to lightly detox the body. Time — 1 minute.
4. Dry brush your body, to improve circulation and lymphatic drainage. Time — 1 minute.
5. Do 50 jumping jacks, and 3 sun salutations. Time — 4 minutes.

Can you imagine how different you’d feel having engaged in these practices as you walk into each and every day? My course members celebrate this small success as the structure that triggered massive change. And the nice thing is, it only takes 7 minutes to find out just how good you can feel.

5. Seek opposites to balance. A basic tenet of Ayurveda is that like increases like. If you tend to get angry, or heated in the mind, consider where you may be adding fuel to the fire. Hot sauce, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, competitive or endurance sport; these all add heat to the body when you’ve already got too much. Seek cooling foods and calming, joyful movement. In the same context, if you feel stagnant or depressed in the mind, seek more movement in the body, more spice in the food. Always look for the opposite quality to find balance.

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.

Ayurveda teaches that there are three seasons to human life. Childhood is our Kapha season, where we grow and build and are nurtured. Adulthood is the Pitta season, where our inner fire burns it’s brightest. We take action, create structures, transform into the person we’re meant to become. And as we age, we approach Vata season, which can feel cold in contrast to the energy of Pitta, but it comes with so much opportunity.

Vata is wise, creative, in the flow of their life. I encourage retirees to tell their stories, in writing or verbally. Go on adventures, go where the wind takes them. Find a creative outlet they may use to express the years of wisdom they’ve accumulated.

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?

You don’t need the newest equipment or shake or patch or pill to be healthy and fit. You won’t find yourself through scrolling on social media. Put your hands in the soil. Learn how humans have evolved to live in relationship to nature. Learn how your body functions, so you can understand what you need to thrive, vs just following the trends.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?

The book that has most impacted how I offer my work is Atomic habits by James Clear. It was James’ concept of breaking down your goals into smaller, more actionable steps that gave me the most traction in my own journey, and has helped me make the wisdom of Ayurveda (and any other kind of habit change) digestible and implementable to my clients and course members.

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. 🙂

Hah I would probably try to institute a country-wide screen time restriction after 8pm. Well slept people are kind people.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

As cheesy as this sounds, it’s a quote I saw on the front of a journal in a book store once. “Today sounds so much better than someday.”

I was stuck for too long in a tomorrow mindset. The diet was always starting Monday. I said life would get easier as soon as “x” was done or we got some more “y”. With my mind constantly on the future, I had no chance of making progress in the present. No matter how small, even if it’s just two minutes, there’s always something we can do today to make life easier on ourselves.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

You can find me on instagram @thehabitayurveda

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

Thank you!

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