Life & Culture

The health coach telling Jewish women to 'shrug off your Superwoman capes!’

Ditch the guilt to stop feeling blue, says Suzy Gaskie


Are you feeling overwhelmed and a bit down? After Covid it’s a common complaint, especially among women in midlife who are often dealing with constant juggling — being pulled in every direction and used to ignoring their own needs and putting themselves last.

Suzy Glaskie, a 52-year-old health coach and mother of three, is all too familiar with the tendency of Jewish mothers’ to sacrifice their own wellbeing in their bid to look after others.

She is a former burnt-out PR boss and has first-hand knowledge of neglecting her own health and suffering the consequences. In contrast, nowadays, she is on a mission to empower others to prioritise their own self-care.

“As Jewish women, we naturally want to make sure that everyone else is OK. But we can’t pour from an empty cup. We need to ditch the guilt and get serious about caring for ourselves — so that we have the capacity, energy and emotional resilience to be there for our loved ones.”

Glaskie set up her health programme Peppermint Pause to enable women to shrug off their Superwoman capes and focus on themselves. In an online, 90 minute safe space, she guides them through practices that calm the nervous system, so that participants can feel better equipped to deal with whatever throws itself in their path in the future. It is important she says “to be able to express your frustrations and fears without fear of being judged”.
“It’s very moving,” she explains “ to see the transformation in women when they’re given permission to press the pause button and take some desperately needed respite.

It provides a break from all the stresses and responsibilities that they are carrying on their shoulders. It’s a chance for ladies to recharge their batteries and honour how they really feel —rather than suppressing their thoughts by constantly running around, lavishing care on other people.”

She says that often repressed emotions of grief, resentment, anger, or fear come to the surface when women stop to tune into themselves. “My aim is for women who arrive at the session feeling overwhelmed, to leave 90 minutes later, calm, grounded, and peaceful.”

Glaskie’s strategies include journaling and gratitude, to shift mindset and encourage more positivity and hope. She also guides the women through tapping which has been shown to dramatically lower stress levels. The ultimate end game is to build emotional resilience and gain overall health.

She says that If she could persuade everyone to adopt just one habit, it would be a daily gratitude practice, as it can transforms people’s lives on every level.

“Keeping a gratitude journal takes just a couple of minutes to write before bed and is a hugely effective way to let go of the day’s stresses and drift off to sleep with positive feelings, rather than ruminating on what has upset you. It’s such a simple, powerful antidote which interrupts anxious thoughts and helps us to feel more optimistic. Research has shown that people who practise gratitude, benefit from an astonishing range of benefits. These include everything from a stronger immune system and lower blood pressure, to having higher self-worth.”

It’s a new initiative for Manchester-based Glaskie. She suffered from stress in her early 40s, before she left the PR consultancy she’d founded, soon after the death of her father. As a consequence she changed her life and went on to train to become a health coach, with an overall aim to help people get the most out of their life by optimising their lifestyle and managing their stress levels.

At the same time, as working with individuals, Glaskie is worried on a much bigger scale.
“The UK is suffering an obesity crisis. There are catastrophic numbers of the population with type two diabetes, with an explosion in those under 40 developing the condition…very often without even being aware of it.”

She puts the majority of the blame on the food industry, for producing unnatural, cheap, and addictive food and then bamboozling the public with misleading labelling. She should know. For 22 years, her work in PR m ainly involved promoting “junk food”. She says: “It’s incredibly difficult for people to make healthy decisions when they live in an environment that is constantly pushing them towards choices that rob them of their health.”

Most people do not realise that the food they’re eating on a daily basis is not only causing a blood sugar rollercoaster and leading to weight gain but is also affecting their mental health. Research shows that 80 to 90 per cent of the conditions that drive us to a GP are rooted in our lifestyle. As she explains “Changing habits is tough. People get sabotaged by old patterns of behaviour that drag them down. That’s where health coaching comes in: it’s been described as the missing link in healthcare. It’s the bridge between people wanting to get themselves healthy — and them actually taking the actions necessary to make that happen.

Studies continually reveal that making changes to lifestyle is vastly easier as part of a like-minded group and so Glaskie uses group sessions like Peppermint Pause and her upcoming membership programme, Freshly Minted. These are non-judgemental spaces, and it is where every participant feels safe to be vulnerable and share their struggles — and can benefit from the power of group momentum to get healthy as a team.

She also recently launched a gratitude journal for children through the Big Birthday Appeal — the charity she runs with her close friend, Jude Moryoussef which encourages children to raise money for kids who aren’t as fortunate as themselves. It trialled over eight weeks at two Jewish primary schools in Manchester. The results were astonishing: the children were more positive, had higher self-esteem and their English language skills improved too. Her hope is that, by encouraging children to start this practice at a young age, they will grow up with an attitude of gratitude for life.

At a time when so many kids and young people are struggling with their mental health, Glaskie wants every child has their own gratitude journal and fillsit in as part of the school day.

She says: “I’m far calmer, happier and more focused now in my 50s than I was at 30s or 40s. Back then, I was attempting to do the impossible and wrecking my health in the process. I feel privileged to use my experiences to empower others and it is my hope that Peppermint Pause is one good way to achieve this”.

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