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Don't Forget to Relax: An Interview with Valerie Sunyak

Updated: Jan 6, 2023

Life can get overwhelmingly busy at times. I mean, there are times when I am so busy and thinking about so many things at once that I find it difficult to even string a sentence together. Have you been there? I don't know about you, but when I am there, I often don't think of any way of getting out of that mindset. I just think of it as something that will pass. And it does, but only to return again the next time I am overwhelmed. Then I think to myself, that can't be a healthy way to live. And it's not. We need to work harder at relaxing and recharging. Sounds odd right? Work at relaxing. But I know that I'm that type of person. I need others around me to encourage me to relax, and that it is ok to do so.

Valerie, a Life Coach at Wildword Coaching, is my colleague who I met through my work as a Senior Learning Consultant. I admire her ability to speak her mind and with such grace! I also admire the balance she seems to always maintain around work and self-care. This is why I thought to ask her to write about recharging because she is someone who does this well. She is someone who takes work seriously, but not to the point of burning out.

Anne van Gessel: Tell us a little about yourself!

Valerie: I have been on a journey of self-discovery since I was very young. I grew up in a family where I felt very separate from my parents and siblings and was often told I wasn’t like everyone else. Those words were painful to hear, but I believe it’s what compelled me to go on the journey that I did. Along the way, I found my gifts and my limitations and was so excited by the possibilities, that I wanted to share them with others! So, my mentoring and coaching skills started to develop. I have been doing both for over forty years, in corporate and personal settings. Currently, I combine my business role as a learning and development leader with a part-time coaching practice.

Professionally, I hold a master’s degree in learning and development and I completed my formal training in coaching through the Martha Beck Institute.

Anne van Gessel: Tell us about your personal experience with this topic

Valerie: My parents, in particular my mother, were of the generation where you have to work hard and long in life. I am sure that cultural influences played a large part in this too. My mother grew up on a dairy farm and did very physical work from a young age, so we were taught to put completing tasks and doing things above all else. We had to finish what we started and if I went to bed not having done “something” I felt like a failure.

Sometime in my twenties, I started exploring this concept of always doing, always working, and saving play until the tasks were done. It occurred to me that laying in the grass (as I often did) looking up at the sky and contemplating life, was doing something. I was resting, and calming myself. That epiphany sparked a deeper hunger to explore the concepts of work and rest.

Anne van Gessel: Why is recharging so important?

Valerie: I believe we should be in a constant state of recharging since it is a process, not an event. While it is important to devote time to self-care, it should be a daily practice. Much like we need to feed our bodies, we also need to feed our souls. It is very much a delicate balance of us being mindful of our human needs which are our physical, emotional, and spiritual health.

I believe we should be in a constant state of recharging since it is a process, not an event.

Anne van Gessel: When to know if someone is overworking? What are some coaching tips on this subject?

Valerie: Our bodies inevitably reveal to us what we need, but especially in western culture, we ignore what our bodies are telling us. Often when we do that, we end up physically ill, which is our body’s way of telling us to slow down and rest.

One of the tools I use in my practice is to help my clients get in touch with their own bodies, by doing a body scan to teach them where they are feeling specific emotions. Our bodies speak to us before our brain does, and if we’re attuned to our physical self we can stop and take care of ourselves better.

Anne van Gessel: During the times when we don’t have the time to get away, what are some great alternative ways to relax amidst the chaos?

Valerie: Each of us has different ways of finding calm, or rest. It might be reading, writing, or taking a quick nap. It might be sitting quietly in meditation. Breathing techniques can be done anywhere, even in a work meeting. The key is to be aware of your needs, listen and practice.

Anne van Gessel: Is there anything else you'd like us to know about recharging?

Valerie: The message that we must be “grinding” and working 24/7 is deeply ingrained in our society. We treat ourselves like we are businesses that have to do and be more. We have to compete and be better than everyone else (social media plays into this). Therefore, we have to be very intentional in protecting our need for rest, not just physical rest, but mental rest.

We are not on this earth to prove ourselves to anyone, and once we understand that at a heart level, we can truly rest.

How to contact Valerie:

Via Linkedin profile at:

Or by email at:

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