When you practice regular gratitude, you train your brain to look for the good in life, rather than focusing on what you don’t have. Studies have shown that people who have a gratitude practice are happier overall compared to those who don’t. It can completely change your mindset!
As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Stephanie Morgyn.
Stephanie is a certified holistic health & mindfulness coach, wellness blogger, 200-hour registered yoga instructor, meditation facilitator, writer, speaker, and entrepreneur from Chicago. She empowers her clients to utilize mindfulness to manage their overwhelming stress, level up their mindset, and create a fulfilling life that sets their soul on fire! Her goal is to help others find calm and positivity in their hectic lives and live with passion, authenticity & purpose!
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?
Thank you — I’m so excited to be here! Interestingly enough, I never really had much interest in health or wellness while I was growing up. I always joke that I lived off pizza and beer throughout my time in college, but to be honest it’s pretty spot on.
I received my Bachelor of Science in Business Marketing from DePaul University in Chicago and went straight into the corporate world after school. It didn’t take me long to realize that it was not the right path for me. My job was extremely stressful to the point where I was constantly consumed by my work. Everything in my life revolved around my career. I was spending 60+ hours a week at the office and even when I was home, work was all I could think about. My life, hobbies, relationships, and well-being all took a back seat.
After months and months of this, I started to notice that my life was no longer my own. I would spend my Monday mornings curled up on my bed with my comforter wrapped around me, dreading the week ahead. I would often find myself in tears on my way to work, stressed, overwhelmed, and EXTREMELY burnt out.
My mental stress overflowed into my physical body as well. My diet was garbage due to my constant stress eating. I gained a substantial amount of weight because I was spending my days glued to my chair, typing away at my computer for hours and hours every day. My hair fell out by the handfuls, and I was sick all the time. I felt completely lost.
To make matters worse, I had just started my modeling and acting career where I was constantly being told I was not good enough. I was always too fat, too blonde, too short, etc. I became so consumed with other people’s opinions of me that I began to question my own worth.
Photographers would photoshop my images to the point where I couldn’t even recognize myself anymore. It happened so often that I started to hate looking in the mirror at my natural reflection. I would spend hours every day comparing myself to the “perfect” models on my Instagram feed. I lost all confidence in myself. I even considered taking my own life at one point.
It wasn’t until I found yoga, meditation, and mindfulness that everything changed for me.
I remember originally starting my practice because I thought it would help me lose weight. However, I learned rather quickly that it was so much more than just a workout. The lessons I learned on my mat were easily translated into my everyday life, and they helped me grow and become a better person. Yoga helped me overcome my crippling depression and taught me how to love myself. I even started taking better care of myself including what I choose to eat, what products I consumed, and where I focused my energy. My love for yoga continued to evolve, and I decided to register for Yoga Teacher Training.
I eventually left my soul-sucking corporate 9–5 marketing agency job to pursue my passion for teaching yoga and blogging full time. Since then, I have received my mindfulness and meditation teaching certifications, 3 separate yoga teacher training certifications (Vinyasa, Sculpt, and Hot) and I went back to school to pursue my dream career path in holistic wellness and nutrition! I’ve gone completely vegan and am the healthiest I have ever been. Not saying that I’m perfect in any way of course, but I’ve come a long way and am continuing to grow and learn each day.
I have now dedicated my life to helping other women utilize mindfulness to manage their overwhelming stress, level up their mindset, and create a fulfilling life that sets their soul on fire every single day. I know what it’s like to feel stuck and at rock bottom. I also know what it’s like to use mindfulness to completely transform my life. My goal is to be the person that I needed when I was going through my darkest days and to help my clients live with passion, authenticity & purpose.
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?
The most interesting thing that has happened to me since starting my career in wellness & mindfulness has been realizing how much more I enjoy life now. I used to spend so much time waiting for the weekend or waiting for things to be better that I never really got to enjoy the present moments that were right in front of me.
I also used to believe that being busy equated to being successful. I would jam-pack as many things into my day as possible because I thought that resting was the same thing as being lazy. I would drive myself into the ground and get sick for weeks out of pure exhaustion, recover, and do it all over again. Since I started my yoga, meditation, and mindfulness practice, I’m okay with slowing down and am much better at prioritizing my own self-care. I am also more observant of the world around me and can truly experience all the beauty that life has to offer.
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 when I first started was thinking that I could do everything on my own. It’s so important to be able to ask for help when you need it. I hired an incredible business coach that has helped me launch and grow and my business. I outsource when I can and don’t try to guilt-trip myself about it. I also decided to start seeing a therapist regularly this year. I have learned that taking care of my mental health is just as important as taking care of my physical health.
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 am extremely lucky to have an amazing support system — both at home and in my community. My fiancé has been one of my biggest cheerleaders and supporters, even when I basically decided to restart my career from zero. My mom is also a huge support pillar in my life. She is my best friend and is always encouraging me to go for my dreams. I don’t know where I would be without her.
I also have to say how grateful I am for all the wonderful humans I have had the honor of meeting through starting my business. I love all of my clients, and I am always blown away by how supportive and uplifting the women in the wellness community are to one another.
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?
As a holistic health and mindfulness coach, my biggest goal is to help women manage their stress and utilize mindfulness, yoga, and meditation to transform their lives. The interesting thing about wellness is that it’s often portrayed by the media as only working out and eating well. But to me, it encompasses so much more than that.
For me, wellness includes your mental health, your relationships, your career, your diet, how you handle stress, your outlook on life, your daily routines, etc. Everything is interrelated. If someone works out and eats well but hates their career, has a negative outlook on life, has limiting mindset blocks, tumultuous relationships, mounting life stressors, and are always feeling unhappy, are they really “healthy”? I would argue probably not.
I am so passionate about helping my clients to not only reduce their stress through mindfulness and other holistic modalities, but to also up-level their mindset and genuinely live happier lives. I believe we can create a ripple effect through the world by impacting one person at a time!
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.
1. Incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine. So many of us are living on autopilot — just going through the motions to get by each day. Mindfulness helps bring us back into the present moment without judgment and live with purpose & intention. It also allows us to become more compassionate and accepting of ourselves, lower stress and anxiety levels, and respond to situations rather than just reacting to them. This could look like creating a daily mediation practice, taking a full body scan, mindfully breathing, practicing mindful movement, etc. I promise if you implement these practices regularly, you will start to notice major positive shifts in your life!
2. Find ways to move that make you feel good and that you genuinely enjoy. I used to think that working out meant that I HAD to go to the gym. I would drag myself to the gym and lift weights every week, even though I hated it. Needless to say, that routine didn’t last very long. Find ways to stay active that you actually like doing! Go for a long walk on the beach, do yoga, go rock climbing, join a dance class, play tennis, go for a run in your neighborhood, etc. Find what makes you happy and do more of that. Movement is supposed to be FUN! Your body and mind will thank you later.
3. Create a daily gratitude practice. Take out a pen and paper and write down 5 things you’re grateful for each morning. They don’t have to be big things — even just saying “I’m grateful for waking up this morning” works. When you practice regular gratitude, you train your brain to look for the good in life, rather than focusing on what you don’t have. Studies have shown that people who have a gratitude practice are happier overall compared to those who don’t. It can completely change your mindset!
4. Spend less time in front of a screen and more time in nature. We spend an absurd amount of time these days in front of a screen. In the morning, most of us start the day by looking at our little screens, then at work we stare at our medium screens, and then at night, we watch our large screens. We are not designed to constantly be hunched over a phone or a computer while staring into artificial light. I always recommend that my clients take conscious breaks throughout the day to go outside and spend time breathing in fresh air and enjoying the sun. Nature can be incredibly healing.
5. Invest in a health coach. If you find that you are unable to keep yourself accountable or you just want some help with your wellness & life goals, hiring a coach will be the best investment you will ever make. It’s also to find a community of women who uplift each other and are all on the same journey of self-improvement together.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I would love to create a mindfulness and radical self-care movement! There is a common misconception that mindfulness & meditation are “woo-woo” practices or are only available for monks in Thailand, but that’s just not true. I know how powerful these practices are because they have completely changed my life. I would love to give more people the tools they need to live fully in the present moment, lower their stress levels, and show up from a place of authenticity and passion. When we allow ourselves to put our mental wellbeing first, everything changes.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
1. There are going to be all kinds of people who will tell you that there is only ONE way to be successful in life. That your journey has to look a certain way, or you have to do things in a certain timeline in order to succeed. This is not true. We all have different paths, and our lives will all look different. That does not mean that you will not be successful. Just because something works for one person does not mean that it will work for everyone. Be brave enough to pave your own path!
2. Don’t take advice from someone who has not been where you want to go. Many people will want to give you “advice” or will try to make you doubt yourself along your journey. If you ask advice from someone who has settled for a job or is unhappy with their own situation, they probably aren’t going to give you the best guidance. Don’t allow someone who chose not to peruse their dreams to persuade you from going after yours!
3. There is no such thing as failing — just lessons learned. Every mistake, every mishap, every “failure” is just a lesson on how to do better next time. Everyone has missed the mark at some point in their career. And they are often wiser because of it. The important thing is that you keep going and never give up!
4. You will never be 100% ready and there will never be a right time. Sometimes you just have to take the leap and go for it! People often believe that they should wait until they feel ready in order to take action, and this couldn’t be further from the truth. Once you realize that you will never feel ready, that’s when you get your power back. Feel the fear and do it anyway.
5. Never trade your authenticity for approval. When you show up from a place of authenticity and you know your core values, it’s so much easier to make decisions. When you are constantly trying to bend over backward to please other people, it can be exhausting and can actually have an opposite effect on the people you’re trying to impress. Not everyone will like you, and that’s okay! When you stand firm in your values and beliefs, you will start to attract the right people into your life.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health, and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
These are ALL incredibly important topics to me. As a vegan myself, I am extremely passionate about creating a world free of speciesism where we can respect ALL living beings — not just the ones we look like and the ones that we allow into our homes. Veganism and global warming are also very much related to one another, as meat production uses a huge amount of our freshwater resources and is also a large contributor to pollution and sicknesses around the world. Part of my coaching program is focused on plant-based nutrition and helping my clients improve their diet by incorporating more plants, not only to help the environment but to also help them feel better and reduce their stress levels!
As for mental health, I have struggled with my own mental health issues for years and I know how important it is to prioritize your mental well-being. There is definitely less of a stigma around the topic these days, but I think we still have a lot of work to do. When we can collectively prioritize our mental health in addition to our physical health, I think the world will be a much better place.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
You can visit my website at www.StephanieMorgyn.com for more information on my upcoming mindfulness programs, blogs, and more! You can also follow me on social media here:
Thank you for these fantastic insights!