Do one nice thing for someone else every day — especially if there’s nothing in it for you. (A couple of months ago, a lady in a cafe gave me a single yellow rose. She had bought one for herself and one for a stranger — just to brighten up their day. She told me she does it every day and I found it so inspiring. It really did make my day and I’ve tried to remember to do something similar as often as I can. Imagine if we all did something nice for a stranger every day!)
Many ancient traditions around the world believe ‘wellbeing’ or ‘bienestar’ is a state of harmony within ourselves and our world, where we are in balance mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
As a part of our series about “How We Can Cultivate Our Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rhea Sheedy.
Rhea Sheedy is the founder of Ballet Fusion and has been teaching ballet for over 15 years. She has been trained with the Royal Academy of Dance syllabus and is passionate about health, fitness and wellbeing.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
My childhood was lovely as I was raised by very supportive parents and had an obsession with ballet — going to as many ballet classes as I could squeeze in around school.
My mum was a ‘Keep Fit’ instructor (so 80s!) so from the minute I could walk, I would help her practice and come up with exercises. My enthusiasm for throwing myself around and encouraging other people to join in was ingrained early.
All the women in my family dieted and I couldn’t understand why. They all looked healthy but the ‘diet culture’ (cottage cheese diets, cabbage soup diets, Atkins diets) all made them so miserable. I promised myself I would never be that person and that I would enjoy food and use exercise as a way to stay in shape both physically and mentally.
What or who inspired you to pursue a career in helping others? We’d love to hear the story.
To be honest, when I started teaching ballet, I was doing it simply because I love dancing but as you start to hear people’s stories, see their progress and realise the holistic change it can make, it changes everything. My clients have helped me realise that exercise and fitness isn’t just about changing body shape or improving health, it can be life-transforming.
One client told me after a few months of classes that she was in recovery from thyroid cancer. Before joining us she couldn’t stand up from a chair or sitting on the floor without pulling herself up or having someone pull her up. After three months of ballet her strength had improved so much that she was standing up without any help. That blew my mind. It wasn’t just her strength either — because of the improvement, her mindset changed. She had the confidence to really start living her life again.
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?
It’s cheesy but it’s got to be my mum. She’s so supportive, letting me make my own mistakes and then always there to help or support — whether something goes wrong or right.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of pursuing your passion? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?
I make mistakes every day! Usually annoying ones like forgetting to share the music in my Zoom classes. My biggest mistake when I started out was trying to do everything myself. Once I started asking for help with various aspects of the business, things started to go much better.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
‘Life is not a rehearsal’ — it probably resonates because when I was younger and in amateur shows, I was in a lot of rehearsals. It’s true, we don’t get a second chance at many things so we should go for it now!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people? [With the UK lockdown, Rhea is continuing to run Ballet Fusion’s classes virtually, helping people;s mental fitness during such a challenging time. At the moment, it’s hard to plan any big projects as you don’t know what tomorrow could bring.]
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. In my writing, I talk about cultivating wellbeing habits in our lives, in order to be strong, vibrant and powerful co-creators of a better society. What we create is a reflection of how we think and feel. When we get back to a state of wellbeing and begin to create from that place, the outside world will reflect this state of wellbeing. Let’s dive deeper into this together. Based on your experience, can you share with our readers three good habits that can lead to optimum mental wellbeing? Please share a story or example for each.
Do you have a specific type of meditation practice that you have found helpful? We’d love to hear about it.
I go between meditating with a silent chant, and using a guided mindfulness app. Sometimes if my brain is working overtime, a guided app really helps. My favourite is Headspace, there’s something in there for everyone.
Do you have any particular thoughts about healthy eating? We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are some great ways to begin to integrate it into our lives?
- Juice daily — A juice or smoothie is a brilliant way to cram loads of vitamins and minerals into your daily diet so get into a routine of making a juice or smoothie first thing in the morning. You don’t have to plan much (or at all). Just throw in whichever fruit or veg you have handy. Add a chunk of ginger or fresh root turmeric for an added immunity boost.
- Drink full fat — Drinking the tasty stuff might actually be better for you. Dairy contains a multitude of nutrients — including amino acids, Vitamin K, B12, magnesium, protein and iodine (which most women are low on) as well as the well-known Calcium. Some people are dairy intolerant but for those of us who aren’t, taking full fat milk in our tea or even cream in our coffee will do us good.
- Don’t diet. You will fail. Perhaps after one week, one month or one year, but you will fail. Not because you’re weak, but because diets are unsustainable. Dieting can lead to; depression and anxiety, low energy, mood swings, slowed metabolism, thyroid dysfunction, irritable bowel syndrome, thinning hair and sallow skin, cause brittle bones and osteoporosis. The list really does go on. Enjoy all food groups in moderation and eat to nourish your body, not punish it.
Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum emotional wellbeing? Please share a story or example for each.
- Do one nice thing for someone else every day — especially if there’s nothing in it for you. (A couple of months ago, a lady in a cafe gave me a single yellow rose. She had bought one for herself and one for a stranger — just to brighten up their day. She told me she does it every day and I found it so inspiring. It really did make my day and I’ve tried to remember to do something similar as often as I can. Imagine if we all did something nice for a stranger every day!)
- Exercise — our body and mind are reliant on one another. ‘Healthy body = healthy mind’ could not be more true.
- Eat well. You can’t feel well of function well if you’re not getting decent nutrition and energy.
Do you have any particular thoughts about the power of smiling to improve emotional wellbeing? We’d love to hear it.
Have you ever tried smiling at strangers? They usually smile back and instantly, you feel happier.
If I’m feeling tired or in a bit of a funk before I teach a class, a big smile as I welcome my clients instantly lifts my mood. To see them smile back fills me with energy.
Finally, can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum spiritual wellbeing? Please share a story or example for each.
- Daily meditation. There are so many reasons to do this! Meditation has been proven to build neural pathways in the brain — helping us to function better. It reduced symptoms of depression, anxiety and even pain. On top of this, we see reduced blood pressure, better sleep patterns and improved overall health.
- Peace and quiet. This doesn’t have to be meditation. Just find a space to relax. Don’t overthink, try to sit in the moment.
- Move forwards. Sometimes we feel down about what’s happening, or not happening in our lives. We can feel left behind or like we haven’t achieved enough. This is especially true when we compare ourselves to our peers. A good habit to get into is to forget about the big stuff for a while and realise that every day, we are moving forward. It might feel like we’re only inching forwards but this is good enough. We’re all going in the right direction and the pace really doesn’t matter.
Do you have any particular thoughts about how being “in nature” can help us to cultivate overall wellbeing?
Numerous studies have shown that by being outside and connecting with nature, it helps to improve our mood. This has been so evident particularly during lockdown where many of us have found a new appreciation for the natural world. As we can’t travel far, we’ve learned to stop and appreciate what is around us, waiting at our backdoor. Even if it’s just ten minutes a day — getting outdoors can do wonders for our wellbeing.
Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
If I could inspire a movement, it would be to get people to MOVE more. Any type of movement or exercise is great for us — body and mind. So I’d inspire a ‘moving movement’ 😉
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂
What a great question! Retired ballerina Darcey Bussell please. My all-time idol and I’ve never seen anyone carry their grace so well both on and off stage.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Balletfusion.co.uk & @balletfusionltd on social.
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.