What does self-care actually mean? Open your Instagram and under the #selfcare hashtag I can guarantee you’ll see face masks, spa days, bathtubs, and candlelit rooms. We’re living in an age of making everything pretty and visually appealing. While there’s nothing wrong with a gorgeous pic, it can easily chip away at the meaning of things. When you’re so focused on making your smoothie and avocado toast look Instagrammable, it’s easy to forget why it’s there. When you’re perfecting the edges of a face mask in your mirror so it doesn’t look too sloppy in your selfie, it’s hard to remember what purpose the mask is actually serving.
Whether we’re wrapped up in upholding an illusion of perfection or simply not taking the time to care for ourselves, the domino effect is nearly inevitable. If you’re not taking care of your health, your performance at school and your internship will show it. If you’re putting your social life completely on hold, your mental health can suffer the consequences. No one knows this better than Melissa Wood, a certified health and wellness coach and yoga and pilates teacher. Her early twenties were filled with challenges when it came to finding a balance and taking care of herself. Fortunately, while she didn’t know what she wanted in life right from the start, she shaped the obstacles she faced into a career she adores.
Wood grew up in Syracuse, New York, and after attending community college, she moved to the city on a whim. “I had a calling at a really young age. I didn’t know what it was. But I knew what I wanted to emulate as a girl or a woman,” she told CF Founder Amy Levin, in our most recent Office Hours episode.
She developed people skills while working at the Chanel counter at Bloomingdale’s. She built connections that led to modeling gigs while she was cocktail waitressing. She also developed an eating disorder.
“Growing up in a chaotic household, it was the only way I could get out and let everything out that was going on inside,” she said. She became obsessed with the gym and her diet until she reached a breaking point. “I reached out to a friend of mine who had a therapist she loved. I started seeing a therapist weekly. That was a big turning point for me.”
After learning she also had anxiety, she started meditating, reading helpful books, and speaking differently to herself. This breakthrough brought her to where she is today. She retrained her brain and deconstructed toxic habits and ways of thinking and turned it into a way to help others. She now provides recipes, workouts, and wellness coaching to her 103K followers. She spun her struggles into a dream career, and collected sage advice along the way. So, what would she say if she could go back and talk to the young, fresh-faced Melissa who showed up alone to the Big Apple?
“I would say to my younger self. Be who you are. Because I tried to be the girl who had all the money who lived down the road from me, who had all the clothes. I tried to be something I wasn’t for far too long…When you just own who you are and own what you love, it really just brings to the surface the beauty of who you are and the gifts that you can give when you really live your life in that way.”
Get more advice from Melissa and hear the rest of the conversation by tuning into the podcast below or listening on iTunes.
What challenges have you faced that later inspired you and helped you grow? Let us know if the comments below.