“Some great healthy habits would be starting your morning with intent and not reviewing email or social media as soon as you wake up”


Some great healthy habits would be starting your morning with intent and not reviewing email or social media as soon as you wake up. Take a moment in the morning to pray and or meditate, write in your journal and do some breathwork. A way to develop a good healthy habit is the first to identify the habitat you consider to be poor. And you’ve got to determine for yourself why this is a habit that you no longer want to implement. And then, identify the habits that you would consider to be good and begin to do that. As Dr. Caroline Leaf says, it’s not 21 days that help us form a new habit: it’s actually 63 days. We’ve got to weaken the toxicity of that negative thought. So, it’s not just about replacing the bad habit; we’ve got to identify the bad habit and why we no longer want that to be a bad habit to weaken the toxicity of that habit. It’s also important to remember that a bad day doesn’t have to turn into a bad week.


As a part of my series about the “5 Ways That Businesses Can Help Promote The Mental Wellness Of Their Employees” I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Kristen Guillory.

Dr. Kristen Guillory is an international speaker, author, aunt, business owner, and coach who has the gift to connect at the heart level. She uses humor, storytelling, and transparency to take her audience and clients on a journey. She is the author of Walking Through the Fog: Holding on to Hope When You Can’t See the Sun and the soon-to-be-released book, Look, Stop Hiding (How to Find Your Voice and Never Dim Your Light Again).


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive into our discussion, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

Since I was very young, I’ve always had a desire to help people. I began mentoring at 15 years old. I remember my dad recommending social work to me when I was a sophomore in college, and at first, I looked at him like he was crazy! My first thought was, “they don’t make any money, and all they do is take kids,” but boy, was I wrong! I had no idea all that was involved in that field. Since then, I have graduated with my Ph.D. and have worked (and continued) with youth development organizations. I was also therapist for four years, from 2014 to 2018, and a professor in social work and counseling for many years. I began my professional speaking career in 2006. Initially, this was not something I was seeking, but opportunities have continued to come my way. Today, I continue to speak and offer professional development training. At the beginning of 2018, I was given an idea to launch a program to help others become great speakers. Being a speaker coach was something I never thought I would do. And I had no idea how much I would love doing it! I have helped people rediscover their voice and be their authentic selves on stage and in life.

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

Anyone who knows me knows that I absolutely love music! Once you’ve attended one of my training or coaching sessions, you know that music will happen. I was once invited to lead a city staff training. The event coordinator was concerned that I was going to incorporate dancing and music because they were going to be police officers and firemen in the audience. My team member told her not to worry, but they will dance too! At the event, I invited September birthdays to come on stage and multiple police officers and firefighters joined me on stage. I remember one officer, in particular, looking at me, saying I do not have rhythm; but how did I do? And he did very well. Since then, I have incorporated dancing in over 500 of my engagements and the go-to dance is meringue.

Another interesting story that I recall was when I first began my journey as a professor. On the first day of the semester, I played a hip-hop song called Never Find Another. Then, the following semester after that, I decided not to play the song; 15 minutes into the session, a new student raised her hand and asked, “Dr. Guillory, where is your theme song?” I was quite shocked at this and asked, “how do know about that?” She said, “that’s what everybody was talking about last semester. Everybody was talking about a new young Black women professor that played hip hop.” She also mentioned that that’s what people appreciated about me. And that literally was the beginning of me striving to show up as authentically as I can be.

What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?

In the speaking and coaching industry, I encourage my colleagues to do the following.

  1. Make sure to have a coach and mentor.
  2. Recognize that there is enough to go around, there’s no need for competition, and there’s no need to keep opportunities a secret.
  3. It is important to remember why you even got started.
  4. Know that you have the right to charge for your high-level expertise; you have the right to be compensated.
  5. It is important not to wing it ever and make sure that you know your content as a speaker.
  6. Speakers need to strive to knock it out on stage and allow that speaking opportunity to create another opportunity.
  7. You must cultivate relationships.
  8. To avoid burnout, you must have a burnout prevention plan in place. You need to protect your peace at all costs, implement boundaries, and not get in captivity to an activity. Have a morning routine, consider not checking email or social media before or after certain times, and get sleep.

What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?

Leaders must truly listen and care about those on their team. Check in on them, celebrate them, offer opportunities for professional development, and ask for input.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

My favorite life lesson quote is actually one of my quotes. Surrender the win and the house. When I left my professor position to pursue entrepreneurship, I was so laser-focused to a fault. I thought I was supposed to move in a particular direction. Looking back, I genuinely wish that I would have been open and flexible to how things would happen instead of being so keen on what I thought I was supposed to be doing. Surrendering the When and the How definitely would have prevented some challenging moments

Okay thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. As you know, the collective mental health of our country is facing extreme pressure. In recent years many companies have begun offering mental health programs for their employees. For the sake of inspiring others, we would love to hear about five steps or initiatives that companies have taken to help improve or optimize their employee’s mental wellness. Can you please share a story or example for each?

Companies have started to include counseling services, mental health or self-care workshops, gym memberships, allowing for a mental health day

These ideas are wonderful, but sadly they are not yet commonplace. What strategies would you suggest to raise awareness about the importance of supporting the mental wellness of employees?

Over the last 10 to 15 years, mental health has started to get the attention that has been needed for years. It is very common for someone to take off work if they have a cold. However, if someone is struggling emotionally, our society says that we need to push through it, which is very harmful your ones health both mentally and physically. Some companies only offer three days for bereavement, and it has to be for a close family member. Imagine losing a friend, and you can’t get time off to not only go to the friend’s service but to grieve this friend. Many people are walking around pretending to be okay, but they are not because our mental health has not been prioritized. Some strategies I suggest would be sending out a weekly or bi-weekly wellness newsletter around mental health, encourage monthly seminars or lunch-and-learns around a mental wellness topic. I encourage companies to increase the number of bereavement days; I encourage companies to encourage vacation time. I also encourage companies to be flexible and allow people to work from home from time to time

From your experience or research, what are different steps that each of us as individuals, as a community and as a society, can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling stressed, depressed, anxious and having other mental health issues ? Can you explain?

Every person is different and there is no one-size-fits-all to support people and their mental health experiences. The following are recommended for those who might be feeling stressed, depressed, anxious and more. The first is to speak and consider counseling. Counseling is fantastic if you are going through something difficult, and it’s also really great even if you’re not going through anything difficult. Counseling should be as standard as having a dentist. Do you have a doctor? Then, you should also have a counselor. The second thing to consider is to normalize addressing our mental health. It is totally okay for parents to talk about being sad, being upset, or seeing a counselor so their children can see that this is normalized. Some key questions to consider asking to offer support are: Is there any way that I can support you? You could encourage them by saying how their feelings are normal, and it’s okay not to be okay.

Habits can play a huge role in mental wellness. What are the best strategies you would suggest to develop good healthy habits for optimal mental wellness that can replace any poor habits?

Some great healthy habits would be starting your morning with intent and not reviewing email or social media as soon as you wake up. Take a moment in the morning to pray and or meditate, write in your journal and do some breathwork. A way to develop a good healthy habit is the first to identify the habitat you consider to be poor. And you’ve got to determine for yourself why this is a habit that you no longer want to implement. And then, identify the habits that you would consider to be good and begin to do that. As Dr. Caroline Leaf says, it’s not 21 days that help us form a new habit: it’s actually 63 days. We’ve got to weaken the toxicity of that negative thought. So, it’s not just about replacing the bad habit; we’ve got to identify the bad habit and why we no longer want that to be a bad habit to weaken the toxicity of that habit. It’s also important to remember that a bad day doesn’t have to turn into a bad week.

Do you use any meditation, breathing, or mind-calming practices that promote your mental wellbeing? We’d love to hear about all of them. How have they impacted your own life?

Oh yes, I use breathing meditation and mind-calming activities. From time to time, I take my sister’s restorative yoga class, and it is everything! It consists of deep breathing exercises and stretching. I also incorporate in my personal and professional life deep breathing. I also do affirmation work, and I will repeat them, or I will listen to them. I also listen to calming sounds, sounds as the sound of the ocean. One of the reasons I actually relocated to a different state is to be by the sea. Water does wonders for my mental health.

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

Yes, a book called Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski Ph.D. and Amelia Nagoski DMA, talks about the stress cycle. I truly wish that I had known about the stress cycle early on. When we’re going through stress, we don’t allow ourselves to complete the stress cycle. This ground-breaking book reveals that completing the ‘stress cycle’ is the most effective way to avoid burnout and emotional exhaustion.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would start a movement that encourages us to set our lives up to feel like a vacation. Whatever that may mean. I recently relocated to set my life up as a vacation, but I also understand not everyone can relocate. However, there are other ways; what I mean by this is incorporating more things consistently that you enjoy doing. So, when someone goes on vacation, they should think about what they enjoyed doing on vacation and incorporate that more. Whether ordering out, getting a massage, sleeping in, or going to a movie, etc., sometimes living life as a vacation is showing up as your authentic self. I would love to start a movement to set our lives up to feel like a vacation; however, we defined that.

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

Follow me on Instagram @drkristenguillory

Thank you for the time you spent sharing these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

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