"All my pieces are finally in place and I need to now focus on how to allow them to fit into my life in a way that supports my happiness rather than drain me." - Charlotte Watts, Author of the De-Stress Effect
Tell me more about your career before you embarked on a career in nutrition and yoga?
Before I became a nutritionist, yoga teacher and author (which started 15 years ago) I worked in retail (assistant manager in Monsoon, Richmond after leaving art college), did charity fund-raising telesales (ouch!) and was a bookkeeper/financial manager for a magazine (not fulfilling!) before I had a eureka moment and signed up to study at the Institute for Optimum Nutrition the next day. It was such a relief to find something for my busy brain to get thoroughly involved in, having a focus really helped me address mental issues like anxiety. I was waiting to find my passion for sure; it’s amazing how exhausting living without one is, as our brains are so set to seek what can be improved….
How did you manage the transition from retail into health and wellness?
I was really driven to succeed – I’d found what I wanted to do and I really didn’t have any doubts that it would! I was prepared to put in the hours and the effort and suck up and learn from some failures along the way. After college I set up a private practice alongside my job, but it was clear I couldn’t make a clear leap without other measures, so I took a job for a nutritional company starting up and that was my life. It was based in West London and I lived in Brighton, so daily commuting was out. I lived with my Dad in Windsor in the week and only went home at weekends and worked my a&*$e off, but thoroughly enjoyed it. Some of the contacts I made there still serve me well now and I really honed some good skills in the process, like health writing, understanding the nature of the industry and its idiosyncratic marketing needs. Loads of skills from previous jobs and even art college came in handy; not directly but attitudes, considering what the customer needs and looking at things from a creative perspective.
What’s been the biggest highlight?
There have been a few along the way; filming series 3 of the BBC3 series Freaky Eaters with my co-presenter Felix Economakis was great fun and then filming GMTV’s Beach Body Boot Camp, taking my then three-month old daughter along to locations like Monmouth was a bit bonkers! Those were enjoyable as exciting novelties, but the real highlights have been as I’ve really found my true voice and started to practice and write books in a way that really works for me; melding my nutrition, yoga and mindfulness work to really find how best to help people cope with stress.
What’s been the biggest challenge?
Having a child and still having ambition has been really demanding. My daughter started school last September and I thought I would suddenly have whole swathes more time, but of course it didn’t quite work like that and I still struggle to get everything done. I want to be able to spend more time with her in school holidays, so helping myself dial down what I perceive I ‘need to do’ (much of it self-imposed) is at the forefront of my consciousness right now. I have worked far too hard for far too long and need to spend more time enjoying the present moment now! They say you need to be doing something for 15 years to really get a feel for it and I’m there now, and understand what that means. All my pieces are finally in place and I need to now focus on how to allow them to fit into my life in a way that supports my happiness rather than drain me.
What inspired you to write your new book The De-Stress Effect?
The De-Stress Effect is a culmination of how I work with people on a day to day basis. It’s all the attitudes and practical applications that I know work to help relieve people from the effects the chronic and psychosocial stresses that are so common with the way we live. I wrote it because I need all of this stuff and to come back to it over and over again. We are taught to achieve, do and keep going to succeed in our society and to look after ourselves, slow down and be gentle and kind are qualities that can be overshadowed by the loudness of all that doing. I meet many highly stressed clients – often incredibly successful and smart – who need to learn the new skills of recharging without guilt.
Can you tell us a little bit more about what we can expect from the book?
It’s a very practical manual that can be approached either as a six week plan to work through and set you off on a new long-term habits that make you feel most happy and healthy. It’s also organised in a way that makes it easy to drop into and refer back to as a helpful guide when you need a bit of calming, coping and way out of feeling anxious, overwhelmed or hemmed in.
For those suffering the effects of long-term stress – like anxiety, depression, fatigue, insomnia, IBS, skin issues, weight gain etc – it explains why this is happened and how you can address them with food, relaxation, meditation, movement and treating yourself as a friend. You can work out which types of Stress Suits you tend to wear and which changes to prioritise to help most.
What advice would you give to other women who dream of finding a career they love but feel stuck?
Jump! Yes it’s scary, but then isn’t anything important? And what if it doesn’t work? So what, so much better to have tried and know, than to continually be in ‘the grass is greener’ mind-set – that will wear you down. There’s nothing tedious or mundane about the movement of working out a new project or how you’re going to live during its infancy. I love that excitement! A little too much I think, I’m always trying to recreate it with a new angle. Stopping and taking stock every so often is probably something you should do, but I’m a bit rubbish at. If you’re not happy where you are, then change. No situation is written in stone.
What’s next for you?
It’s a bit all about the book coming out at the moment (March 2nd). Then I want to get on with the online programme I’ve been thinking about for a while, but I also need to actually give myself some rest time and not get too future-driven, which I tend to do. I have another book idea to pitch by the end of the year, but I do need to give attention to the Teaching Yoga for Stress, Burnout and Chronic Fatigue module at Yoga Campus I’m teaching with Leah Barnett and Fiona Agombar Oct 2015. We’ve written the content, but it’s a great opportunity to explore more of what I’m interested in, especially with those women who have different perspectives and knowledge from myself. I’m teaching more retreats in 2016 so just organizing those dates, so I can move my life more and more away from a computer…
What’s your favourite quote?
‘In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.’ – The Buddha
You can purchase Charlotte’s new book The De-Stress Effect on amazon here
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