Being in your 20’s is a time of significant turbulence and change. Many women are moving out of home, studying, starting in their first jobs and developing their first serious relationships. Overall, it can be a pretty stressful time.
Fifty-three year old Dr Suzy Green is a qualified clinical and coaching psychologist, and Fitbit’s new life coach ambassador. She shared with Bondi Beauty some pearls of wisdom she wishes she knew when she was younger:
“I learned a lot of mindfulness skills in my 20’s and honestly, they changed my life,” Suzy said.
“There is so much we can learn about mindfulness training, which in a nutshell is learning to be an observer of your thoughts,” Suzy said.
Suzy spoke about the importance of using mindfulness to be aware of and learn to let go of ANTs – her term for ‘automatic negative thoughts.’
“If you don’t learn to be mindful and aware of your thought patterns, there is no way no way you’re going to be able to identify your ANTs – it’s like that Nike ad which showed all the young women in the gym thinking negative thoughts and comparing themselves to the other women saying ‘she’s thinner than me’ or ‘oh she’s fitter than me,’” Suzy said.
“Being aware of those thoughts, and deciding whether or not we want to believe them is so important. Often, we don’t even realise that we are having these automatic thoughts, and overall ANTs obviously have a pretty negative impact on self-esteem.”
“Mindfulness creates a point of choice- it brings your awareness to those moments when you choose whether you want to go down one path or another, which is of course essential when you are making those significant life choices in your younger years” Suzy said.
“I have a big history of anxiety on my mother’s side, and while I’m a pretty happy and positive person, I have struggled with that anxiety, sometimes without even realising the extent of it,” Suzy said.
“I was using exercise and running to manage my anxiety, but when I was 25 I just my knee and wasn’t able to run anymore, so losing that coping mechanism forced me to figure out other effective techniques, like breathing techniques.”
“I’m working with Fitbit now and one function they’ve added to their watches is the relax function which takes you through two minutes of breathing exercises, which I think is so fantastic – it really helps you just rebalance and re-centre yourself,” Suzy said.
“There is so much that we can do to improve our wellbeing through mindfulness, goal setting, kindness gratitude forgiveness.”
“The research shows that just brief practices of mindfulness even on a daily basis over a short period of time can provide some really wonderful effects of elevated wellbeing, so mindfulness is absolutely non-negotiable when it comes to overall wellbeing and setting and achieving goals.”
Suzy spoke about the importance of surrounding yourself with people whose core values align with yours.
“You find, especially in your teens and 20s, that you go through a big sorting period with friendships so I’ve done a lot of work with young women around what makes a good friend,” Suzy said.
“It all comes back to your values – there’s that saying friends are either for a reason or for a lifetime, so sometimes it’s seeing that some friends are there for a reason and will go in and out of your life, and those whose values truly align will be the ones who are in it for the long haul.”
“Being really clear about who you want to surround yourself with is so vital because because it truly affects who you are and your wellbeing.”
“One thing I would definitely tell my younger self is just to chill out a bit more and not worry so much,” Suzy said.
“It can be really tricky if you’re juggling multiple roles with study and work and relationships, but again it comes back to your values and what’s important to you.”
“It’s also learning that sometimes it’s not the ideal scenario when you are balancing multiple things, and you might have prioritise one area of your life which means you have to spend less time on another area – but it’s okay to wind back the effort on one area of your life if you need to focus on another.”
“Knowing when to wind back and ramp up on your different goals in different aspects is such an important thing because we can’t all just go 100 miles an hour 24/7.”
“It’s great that everyone is talking about [mental health campaign] ‘are you okay’ and breaking down those stigmas around mental health, but there is still a bit of wariness about seeking help,” Suzy said.
“If you are going down the “worry well” or just need help with some general life or mindfulness coaching there are so many resources and programs available to us online, we have virtual resources at the positivity institute and there are some fantastic self-help books.”
“People are happy to go and spend some money on a beautician or a hairdresser I would love to see more young people engaging with professional coached and psychologists and investing in that mindfulness aspect and that inner health and beauty.”
“Professionals know how to ask the right questions to clarify what is truly important to you and to clarify pathways for the future.”
Change your Thinking by Dr Sarah Edelman
The Happiness Trap by Dr Russ Harris
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