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Women In Wellness: “Stop, Breathe and Walk”, with Lynne Everatt & Addie Greco-Sanchez

Stop. So many of us are caught up in a whirlwind of busyness that has us in a perpetually frantic state. Taking the opportunity to pause, even for a minute, to reflect on what you’re doing — if it’s truly the right thing to do at the right moment and how it might be done better or […]


Stop. So many of us are caught up in a whirlwind of busyness that has us in a perpetually frantic state. Taking the opportunity to pause, even for a minute, to reflect on what you’re doing — if it’s truly the right thing to do at the right moment and how it might be done better or with more enjoyment — can transform the day. Whenever we feel overwhelmed, we stop and take out an old school piece of paper and an old school pen and draw a mind map of all the pinballs bouncing around in our brains. The map encourages us to select the most important pinball, decide what small task we need to do to move it forward so we can get back to work with a renewed sense of calm.

As part of my series about health and wellness leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lynne Everatt and Addie Greco-Sanchez who are on a mission to improve mental, physical and emotional wellness in the workplace. Lynne is LinkedIn’s Top Voice in Management and Workplace, a recovering MBA and nominee for the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour for her first book, EMails from the Edge, a novel with the theme of workplace mental health. Addie is President of AGS Rehab, a recognized industry leader in disability management in Canada with a strategic focus on mental health. A visionary leader, Addie ranked on the 2015 PROFIT/Chatelaine’s W100 Canada’s Top Female Entrepreneurs. Addie is often called upon as a subject matter expert in mental health and is an avid national speaker. Together through their friendship, Lynne and Addie want to make the world a more mentally healthy place.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

We met while serving on the board of directors of Interim Place, a local women’s shelter where we discovered we had a lot in common including a love of Latin music, disco dancing and psychology. We both have had panic attacks — although not at the same time (that would be co-dependent). It’s our shared fascination with psychology, along with our personal experience with anxiety issues and a recognition that there’s a lot of mental distress in the workplace that made us want to write a book together, a book that recognizes there are proven methods to become more mentally resilient and they don’t take much time. We designed The 5-Minute Recharge to address the need for quick, simple and effective ways to take better care of ourselves. In a real sense, we did the research and wrote the book that we ourselves needed.

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

We did a multi-media presentation on wellness where we attempted to bring our book The 5-Minute Recharge to life for a group of coaches from the ICF (International Coaches Federation) in Toronto. We gave out prizes for most (a satin pillowslip) and least (an eye mask) sleep and had the group dancing to Gloria Gaynor’s immortal I Will Survive. We were thrilled at how enthusiastically the group responded to our message about the importance of sleep, connection, reflection and physical activity, but our egos didn’t get too big because the organizer said his favorite part of our presentation was the minute of silence. In the wellness biz, it’s really important to have a quiet ego. This is a recurring wellness career theme.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Of the two of us Lynne is most likely to have toilet paper stuck to her shoe, so she’ll tell the story. Early in my wellness career I thought that community theater would be a good idea to help get me out of my introverted shell so that I could more effectively sell my message that at the time was focused on physical fitness and “the joy of sweat.” After several weeks of acting study, our class was to perform short skits for friends and family. I rehearsed my lines in the shower, in my car and on imaginary stage in my bedroom as if I were preparing for a Broadway debut. When the day came for my performance, I remembered all my lines and was ecstatic that everything went swimmingly. Or so I thought. Three months later my sister told me that when I sat down in the chair where I delivered most of my lines, the angle was such that the entire audience could see up my skirt. This experience taught me a valuable career lesson: the highs are rarely as high as you think they are, and conversely, the lows are rarely as low. And keep your knees together.

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?

A sequel to The 5-Minute Recharge entitled Acts of Friendship is in the works. Based on our extensive research in writing The 5-Minute Recharge, a surprising finding was that, after sufficient sleep, the quality of your relationships is the next most important element of wellness. Acts of Friendship is aimed at deepening relationships through activities that involve real, face-to-face connections. We tested over 100 activities for our book — we were thrown off runaway horses, scared family members with our balloon art and wrote and performed a rap about sisters with whiskers to select the 47 activities that generated the most laughter, inspiration and expanded horizons.

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?

We are grateful towards each other for helping us get where we are. Truly, neither one of us could have produced our book alone or taken on the task to try to improve mental health, especially on television. We appeared on the Toronto morning show, Breakfast Television, and between breathing deeply and salsa dancing in the aisle, not only did we get rave reviews, but we enjoyed the experience — because of each other. The 5-Minute Recharge was a labor of love and a testament to our friendship. We lean on each other a lot, and laugh at our mishaps.

Can you share your top three “lifestyle tweaks” that will help people feel great?

Stop. So many of us are caught up in a whirlwind of busyness that has us in a perpetually frantic state. Taking the opportunity to pause, even for a minute, to reflect on what you’re doing — if it’s truly the right thing to do at the right moment and how it might be done better or with more enjoyment — can transform the day. Whenever we feel overwhelmed, we stop and take out an old school piece of paper and an old school pen and draw a mind map of all the pinballs bouncing around in our brains. The map encourages us to select the most important pinball, decide what small task we need to do to move it forward so we can get back to work with a renewed sense of calm.
 
 Breathe.
Most of us are upper chest breathers. Taking a moment to breathe deeply into the belly sends a signal to your body and mind to relax. The belly breath is a portable de-stressor that’s available to you any time you want to use it. Practicing belly breathing throughout the day will ensure you’ll remember to use it in the high-pressure situations when you really need it.
 
 Walk.
Solvitur ambulando“It is solved by walking” wrote 4th-century Greek philosopher Diogenes. Science has finally caught up to the ancient Greeks, uncovering the physical and cognitive benefits of walking, especially in nature. We take walking breaks periodically throughout the day, and Lynne walks so much that you could say she takes sitting breaks. We have noticed a real difference in the vitality we bring to activities such as talking on the phone when we’re moving as opposed to sitting.

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

Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning has had the greatest impact on the two of us. The people we encounter who are the most contented are those who have devoted their lives to something meaningful such as building a business, creating a work of art or contributing to the wellbeing of loved ones. Those who are least contented are those who try to find meaning in all the wrong places that science tells us are fame, fortune and addictive pleasures.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

It would be a movement toward greater connection. In our book we ask readers to think about what they would put on a billboard. Addie’s billboard reads “LOVE AND KINDNESS: That’s all that really matters.” It’s a billboard that’s backed by science. The Harvard Study of Adult Development, a study that has tracked people for over 80 years, reached one undeniable conclusion: good relationships are what make us happy, healthy and resilient.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Our book The 5-Minute Recharge is how we have brought goodness into the world. The goal of the book is to improve workplace mental health in the workplace. Our weekly 5-minute recharge newsletter is how we continue to give back with all the latest information on wellness.

What are your “5 Things We Wish Someone Had Told Us Before We Started” and why.

1. We tried to make our book simple, but nonetheless, even in 5-minute increments, change is incredibly difficult. People know on an intellectual level what they need to do, but there is often a canyon between knowing and doing. It’s so important to make a change that’s small enough to become a consistent habit and to make it as enjoyable as possible. When it comes to habit formation, consistency beats grandiosity.

2. There’s a lot of research out there. Not all of it is credible. You can find “research” to back up just about anything, but the best wellness tips make intuitive sense and have stood the test of time. Meditation is 2500 years old, and long before smartphones, Socrates said, “Beware of the barrenness of a busy life.”

3. The best wellness tips are not sexy. That being said, it’s up to us as wellness evangelists to make wellness sound as sexy as possible. Celebrities are moving into the wellness space because they bring their sexiness with them and can make even ice baths sound enticing. We wish we had spent several days with a flipchart just trying to sex up our tips and then several more days recruiting a celebrity to sell them.

4. It’s hard to practice what you preach! We feel a responsibility to model good behavior, but of the five pillars of wellness — sleep, step, sweat, reflect and connect — there is always one area where we ace it and one area where we struggle. For Lynne, she aces the step pillar (walking) but struggles with taking time to pause for reflection and making meditation a daily habit. For Addie, she aces connection, but struggles with sleep. Nonetheless it’s important to be gentle with yourself and take small wellness steps. For Lynne, it’s a 7-minute meditation at least once a day. For Addie, it’s turning off technology an hour before bed.

5. When it comes to wellness, one size doesn’t fit all. For example, practicing gratitude is a wellness trope that is thoroughly supported by science (and ancient philosophy: Plato said a grateful mind attracts great things) but if you try to force it, gratitude can actually make you feel worse. The key is to take in the wealth of knowledge that we have about what makes people happy and design our days so that we can have as many small happiness wins as possible. Happy people are not alike. Every happy person is happy in their own way.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?

Lynne: From Anaïs Nin: “Life expands and contracts in proportion to your courage.” My best experiences, all of which involved some kind of public performance, have been those that terrified me.

Addie: From Mother Teresa: “Some people come in your life as blessings, others come in your life as lessons.” Every connection we make has something to offer. Growth has come to me in various ways and each person has contributed to who I am today.

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 if we tag them 🙂

Lynne believes that sport is at the leading edge of wellness, so she would love to have a private breakfast with Serena Williams or Megan Rapinoe. She’s also a huge Fleabag fan, so would like to follow up her breakfast with champions with a lunch with creator/writer/actor Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

Addie would secretly (well, maybe not so secretly now) love to have a private breakfast with Kawhi Leonard. There is an uncanny quiet strength about him that propels him to be super successful on the court. And of course, ask him why he left Toronto. Like a true soul sister, Lynne would like to join in on Addie’s private breakfast with Kahwi.

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

You can follow us on Twitter @5minrecharge, and please visit 5minrecharge.com to sign up for our free weekly newsletter!

Thank you for all of these great insights!

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