The day Gov. Andrew Cuomo instructed New Yorkers to stay home as much as possible due to COVID-19, Emilie and Louis Leyes were thinking about how best to continue helping their clients who want to adopt healthy new habits — and, equally important, avoid picking up bad ones.
Through their company, MindBodyMoney, daughter and father work with people seeking guidance on such lifestyle changes as plant-based nutrition, fitness regimens, and values-based financial planning.
“Each realm — mind, body, money — is a strong influencer of the others,” said Emilie, a KettleSpace Member who worked out of Crave Fishbar on the Upper West Side before COVID-19 forced a suspension of service. “We help build resilience in all three pillars.”
To do that, Emilie said, she and Louis work with their clients to figure out “where they want to be” in terms of mental, physical, and financial health. Emilie is an actor and singer who has studied nutrition and neuroplasticity (the brain’s ability to adapt), and Louis is a Pennsylvania-based financial planner and group fitness instructor.
They offer specialized programs for actors, educators, health care professionals, and business people. With social distancing underway, they deliver their solutions through customized, online workshops.
No matter what approach works for a specific client, everything starts with “brain training,” Emilie said. She recommends establishing practices designed to calm the nervous system and cope with stress, such as breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga, which make it easier to consciously change behaviors.
"These kinds of tools help you prepare your brain for its training, which includes a number of different neural techniques designed to break old pathways and create new ones,” Emilie said.
Emilie believes that the best way to adjust a habit is to change one’s environment — a tall order for many apartment dwellers currently cooped up at home, she acknowledged. Still, she said, there are some things people can do to switch up their surroundings, now that they find themselves working from home.
“At this time, it’s helpful to rearrange your space,” which could mean moving around furniture or re-organizing a desk, she suggested. “Doing something to create new associations with your environment will set the stage for your brain to associate parts of your home with productivity.”
But that does not mean turning the bed into an office space or pajamas into work attire.
“If our brains start to associate energy and productivity with our beds, that could mess with our sleep schedules,” Emilie said.
She recommended keeping up with typical pre-work rituals like exercising, showering, and getting dressed, and then took it a step further: “Do something before you begin working that you normally would not do in your home.” For example, put shoes on and keep them on during work hours.
The goal, Emilie said, is to find something that “triggers your brain to acknowledge that it’s time to focus,” especially during an uncertain time that is causing a lot of stress.
“The unknown is a scary place to be,” she said. “We need to balance self care with moving our lives forward.”
For more tips, follow @mindbodymoney_ on Instagram and Facebook.
About the Author
Sarah Latson is a freelance writer and editor who teaches journalism in New Jersey.