Women In Wellness: Andrea Perry Of Thrive Life Coaching On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing

Women In Wellness: Andrea Perry Of Thrive Life Coaching On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing


You can’t sell coaching. When I first started out, I was offering packages to clients based on length of time but I wasn’t addressing any specific issue that they were having. I quickly learned that in order to be successful and reach the clients whom I could best serve, I had to sell a solution to a specific problem that they have. For me, this is helping teachers overcome burnout, achieve optimal work-life balance, and create a sustainable career.

Today, more than ever, wellness is at the forefront of societal discussions. From mental health to physical well-being, women are making significant strides in bringing about change, introducing innovative solutions, and setting new standards. Despite facing unique challenges, they break barriers, inspire communities, and are reshaping the very definition of health and wellness. In this series called women in wellness we are talking to women doctors, nurses, nutritionists, therapists, fitness trainers, researchers, health experts, coaches, and other wellness professionals to share their stories and insights. As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Andrea Perry.

Andrea Perry is an experienced K-12 educator as well as a certified life, health and wellness coach. Her passion is helping stressed, overwhelmed, and burned-out teachers in overcoming burnout, achieving optimal work-life balance, and building a sustainable career where they can truly thrive, both personally and professionally. You can learn more about Andrea and her programs for teachers by visiting her website at www.thrivewithandreaperry.com.

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?

I’d love to!

So, I actually started out my career as a K-12 teacher and I absolutely loved what I did and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. In my early years in the classroom, I definitely bought in to the toxic “grind culture” of teaching and allowed myself to become rundown, disillusioned, and ultimately burned out. Still, I couldn’t shake the passion I had for teaching, so every year I would be at it again and determined to rediscover my joy in teaching. Thankfully, I was able to figure out how to reignite my passion and remained in the classroom for many more years. This experience lit a fire in me for supporting the overall wellbeing of educators, especially as I watched some of my amazing teacher colleagues leave the profession after just a few years because it seemed unsustainable. However, other than being personally passionate about educator wellbeing, I didn’t really know what to do about it.

Fast forward 10 years: I was home on maternity leave when I received a phone call informing me that my teaching position was going to be cut for the upcoming school year.

I was devastated.

This was a major crossroads for me because, with the high cost of childcare and the low salary we earn as teachers, returning to the classroom honestly didn’t make financial sense for my family. I did a lot of soul searching during this time and it was incredibly difficult for me to find a new profession that was as fulfilling as being a teacher and that also allowed me the flexibility to stay home with my daughter and work around her schedule. I tinkered with a couple of ideas, but nothing really fit.

Then I discovered coaching and I absolutely fell in love with it.

After earning both my life coaching and my health and wellness coaching certifications, it was clear that this was the perfect time to give back to the teacher community by creating a program specific to their needs that will support them both personally and professionally, especially right now when teacher burnout is at an all-time high. I feel like my experiences have equipped me to so perfectly to serve our amazing teachers in this exact moment when they need so much extra care and support of their wellbeing.

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?

My program for teachers focuses on both overcoming and preventing burnout. As I was first starting out as a coach, I felt pretty confident in creating the content and tools to share with my clients, but I neglected to realize that I was in the middle of experiencing burnout again myself — but this time in a different way. Like I mentioned before, I had just become a mom for the first time, lost my job shortly after that, and then I was starting over in a new career and trying to build a business from the ground up. Eventually, I realized that I was not ok: I was physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted and unable to move forward with much of anything. It was ironic to me that while I was creating a program to help teachers with these challenges, I was experiencing the same thing without realizing it because it had a different cause. Fortunately, once I recognized what was going on, I was able to use the same tools that I teach my clients to help myself recover and reset so that I could continue moving forward with better health and overall wellbeing, as well as increased self-awareness to make sure that I can prevent it in the future. Burnout is so subtle at first, and that’s what makes it so hard to identify until you’ve hit that metaphorical wall. My experience with this showed me the value that I have to offer my clients in this area, and has reminded me that taking care of myself isn’t selfish — in fact taking care of myself is one of the greatest gifts I can give to myself, my family, and to my clients. I think that many people — and especially teachers — struggle with this idea of taking care of themselves even though we hear it all the time, so this is an incredibly important part of what I focus on now, for both myself and with my clients.

It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about a mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

One thing that really held me back at first was the belief that I could do it on my own. In this age of DIY and being able to YouTube or Google everything, I thought I could just figure out how to start a business on my own. With the loss of my income and the addition of our baby, we had to tighten our budget significantly so I was trying to spend as little money as possible on startup costs. Unfortunately, I had zero experience in being an entrepreneur, so I quickly became discouraged about my new venture since nothing was moving forward. I started following a couple of business coaches online to learn what I could from their free offerings, but I soon learned two important lessons about starting a business: 1) you need to spend money in order to make money, and 2) having the right support is critical to success. My main support and encouragement came from my husband. He has always believed in me and what I can do, often more than I do at any given time! He also encouraged me to actually invest in a business coaching program so that I could learn the tools and skills I needed to be successful in the online coaching world. This was a huge turning point for me in my business, and if it wasn’t for my husband’s encouragement, belief, and support, as well as the tools and support I obtained through my business coach, I probably would have quit a long time ago.

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?

Our teachers are tasked with shaping the hearts and minds of future generations, and right now that’s more challenging than ever. Teachers are facing an ever-increasing workload, a student population in the midst of a mental health crisis, scrutiny and criticism regarding curriculum and a plethora of other issues, low pay, and are still reeling from the unpredictability and stress of pandemic teaching, not to mention any other personal things that they have going on. It’s truly a wonder that we have any teachers left in our classrooms at all. I believe that our teachers and their wellbeing has been ignored (at best), taken for granted, and abused (at worst). This is evidenced by the thousands of teacher vacancies in schools across the country as educators are leaving the profession entirely which not only is difficult for the teachers themselves but also has implications for student outcomes as well. On a small scale, what I do in supporting teachers in overcoming burnout and taking care of their wellbeing benefits each individual. On a larger scale, this has a huge impact on how they serve their students, which in turn creates better student outcomes. And that’s just one teacher. Imagine how many lives will be positively impacted if every teacher had the support that they needed to increase their overall wellbeing, create a sustainable career in the classroom to continue serving our children, and be their best selves for their own families and loved ones as well. Now that has a global impact, starting 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?

1. Align your life with your core values. Oftentimes we’re living our lives according to what others do or how we think we should be living. This can take a serious toll on both our mental health because it creates a cognitive dissonance when we are not conducting our day-to-day in a way that supports what we value the most, which in turn leads us to places that we don’t want to be. This can lead to unnecessary stress, burnout, and even depression. For example, if quality time with your family is a core value for you but you’ve allowed your job to take over and not allow time for them, you may need to make some changes at work to create that space in your schedule for your family.

2. Set healthy boundaries around both your professional and personal life. In order to achieve the life that you want (that aligns with your core values) you will need to set healthy boundaries. This might look like saying no to going out with friends so that you can have some down time to recharge, or declining to take part in an optional project at work in order to attend your child’s sports activities. Saying no can be difficult for sure, especially doing so without feelings of guilt, but it’s important to recognize that saying no to one thing is really saying yes to something else. Viewing it from this perspective also helps you align your life choices with your core values. It may help to have a rehearsed saying to politely decline invitations as well if this is an area of struggle for you.

3. Recognize and reframe negative thoughts. Our minds process thousands of thoughts each day — some conscious and some unconscious. If a lot of our thoughts are negative, it leads to feelings of sadness, frustration, anger, stress, and/or discontentment. The good news though is that if we are able to consciously recognize what we’re thinking and take control over our negative thoughts it’s not only beneficial for our mental health, but it can actually change the pathways in our brains to behave in a new, more positive way. That’s so empowering! So, if you’re consistently noticing negative thoughts popping up about a coworker, your boss, or another stressful person or situation, try reframing it in a more positive way. For example, you might be thinking, “This professional development is worthless and a waste of my time” but you could reframe it by saying to yourself, “This professional development is an inconvenience, but I may be able to learn something valuable so I am going to approach it from a place of curiosity instead of cynicism.”

4. Practice self-care — but not in the traditional way that you think. The mainstream way of thinking about self-care often involves indulgent, treat-yourself activities like massages, bubble baths, a fancy coffee drink, or a shopping spree. While these are all wonderful things to experience, they’re really just short-term, feel-good fixes that don’t actually address your overall wellbeing. Instead, true self-care is creating consistent habits that support you in being your best physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. This might mean focusing on proper hydration, nutrition, and movement for your physical self, and making time each day for either reading, chatting with a friend, praying, spending time in nature, or journaling. Whatever you choose to focus on that will support you in being your best self, the key is doing it consistently.

5. Let go of what the world and others “should” be like and accept it for what it is. This one is really difficult for most of us. We all have opinions on how the world should operate and how people should behave towards ourselves and others, but ultimately, we don’t have control over any of that. The only thing we do have control over are our thoughts and actions. We waste so much time and negative mental energy on things that we can’t do anything about, so learning to let go of the “shoulds” and focus on what we can control (ourselves) we will live much more peaceful and contented lives. For example, it’s easy to think that our boss should support us in a certain way, but when they don’t, we can get caught up in negativity and cynicism, robbing ourselves of peace and contentment. Instead, we can prefer or wish that our boss would support us in a certain way (and even communicate it to them if appropriate), but ultimately need to let go of our expectations and focus instead on how we relate to these challenging people and/or situations.

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 start a movement promoting EQ (emotional quotient or emotional intelligence) over IQ (intelligence quotient). EQ has more of an impact on a person’s overall wellbeing, their success in life, their positive relationships with others, and the quality of their mental health than IQ does. Increasing emotional intelligence is something that I support my clients in because it has implications to enhance every area of their lives. Also, it’s encouraging to note that while IQ is largely inherited, EQ is something that we can learn and change, so it’s something that everyone can do. That’s empowering as well!

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

  1. It will take longer to get your business up and running than you think. There’s so much “noise” around coaching online and it was easy to get caught up in the idea that I could easily start pulling in thousands of dollars per month within my first few weeks of coaching. This unrealistic idea led me to become pretty discouraged when I first started out and had no clients or income in what I thought was a normal period of time. The pressure from business coaches who were trying to sell their programs became overwhelming and almost toxic. It helped me to find one who aligned with my values, was realistic in the timeline, and was affordable as well.
  2. Building your own business is one of the biggest seasons of personal growth that you will ever experience. There’s so much going on when starting a new business and I honestly had a lot of doubts about if I could do it and if anyone would even value what I had to offer. On top of being a coach, I also had to learn the administrative side of running a business which was completely foreign to me. There were so many times when I felt like quitting, that it was too hard to learn all the things, and that it was something that other people could have success in but not me. Add that on top of losing my job (and in some ways my identity as a teacher), being a new mom, and trying to prioritize my daughter while starting my own business was often overwhelming. Overcoming these mindset issues really stretched me in my personal growth and that was something I didn’t see coming.
  3. You need to have a lot of support — from family, friends, and a professional in your industry who has done it before you. I thought I could DIY a lot of my business, from creating my website and marketing my services to streamlining the financial side of things. Boy was I wrong. I had no idea where to start in most of these areas and the time and stress it took to try to do it on my own wasn’t worth the toll it took on me. Hiring a coach with expertise in my area of need was a gamechanger for sure. Like I mentioned before as well, my husband has also been my biggest supporter when it comes to anything related to my business, from encouraging me to invest financially in myself to knowing that I could do it and be successful.
  4. You can’t sell coaching. When I first started out, I was offering packages to clients based on length of time but I wasn’t addressing any specific issue that they were having. I quickly learned that in order to be successful and reach the clients whom I could best serve, I had to sell a solution to a specific problem that they have. For me, this is helping teachers overcome burnout, achieve optimal work-life balance, and create a sustainable career.
  5. You are not responsible for your clients’ outcomes. You simply provide the tools and space for them to create their own. When I got my first paying client, I felt so much pressure for my program to “work” (i.e. for the client to achieve the desired outcome). However, that’s totally out of my control as a coach — and rightfully so! Being able to recognize that I provide the container for my clients to achieve what they put effort into is so much less overwhelming and it also keeps the correct perspective as a coach that I am not responsible for determining client’s outcomes, only they are.

Sustainability, veganism, mental health, and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?

While these are all important topics and I personally choose to eat a plant-based (i.e. vegan) diet, I ultimately think that mental health is the cause that I find to be the most important. To me, if someone is mentally healthy, they will be better equipped to address these other topics. Also, our mental health really determines the course of our lives — how we think, feel, relate to ourselves and others, and our overall success and life satisfaction It has huge implications for our physical health as well, so prioritizing mental health is the most important work that we can do, both for ourselves and for those around us.

What is the best way for our readers to further follow your work online?

You can learn more about me on my website, www.thrivewithandreaperry.com and on my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100088683883687&mibextid=LQQJ4d.

I’d also love to share a free download with you to help you start identifying your core values so that you can align your life with them. Visit my website and click on the “Resources” tab to access this and other life-changing tools!

Thank you for these fantastic insights! We wish you continued success and good health.

About the Interviewer: Wanda Malhotra is a wellness entrepreneur, lifestyle journalist, and the CEO of Crunchy Mama Box, a mission-driven platform promoting conscious living. CMB empowers individuals with educational resources and vetted products to help them make informed choices. Passionate about social causes like environmental preservation and animal welfare, Wanda writes about clean beauty, wellness, nutrition, social impact and sustainability, simplifying wellness with curated resources. Join Wanda and the Crunchy Mama Box community in embracing a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle at CrunchyMamaBox.com.

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