A Q&A with Amanda McMillan on how Wellineux began

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Originally published on Wellbeing Magazine, words: Meena Azollini

Wellineux is a Melbourne-based wellness collective that provides innovative and practical health, wellbeing and mindfulness support based on eight integrated areas of wellness.

We talk to Amanda McMillan, co-founder of Wellineux, about how it all began and her innovative offerings to empower individuals and corporates on their unique wellness journey.

At Wellineux you embrace wellness. How did your journey begin? What is your story?

My journey with wellness started about six years ago with a girlfriend of mine, Michelle McCartan, who leads our coaching and mentoring part of the business. We met through our corporate work in HR and in Learning and Development. We were both really curious about wellness, growth and development for ourselves and our families and we started a journey of researching and trying things out. We quickly discovered that there was plenty information out there about wellness, but a lot of it was “do this, drink this, eat this, sleep this many hours” and we felt quite overwhelmed with the amount of information and the prescribed way in which it was given to us. Through that journey we tried lots of different things. Some worked and some didn’t and we would compare experiences with each other. Then it dawned on us that we wanted to share our discovery with other people and let them know that everyone is unique, and what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another. What was most profound for us was the realisation that taking some time out to discover who we were, reconnecting with that and knowing what best supports our lives around wellbeing in a holistic way, helps us be the very best version of ourselves every day.

Tell me a little bit about Wellineux.

Because of our passion for wellness we thought about putting this together in a book called Journey of Me(JOM). It’s a cross between a workbook and a journal and it asks people questions under eight dimensions of wellness, which they need to ask themselves. This helps them to really tune in to what is going to work for them and what’s not going to work.

It starts with discovery – being in tune with your core values and how you want to show up in the world. Then it goes through certain other dimensions of wellness – everything from connection through to rest, movement, resources, growth and mindset. So that’s really how Wellineux began – through writing the JOM journal.

"That’s very important to us, ensuring people are able to take things away with them to support themselves continuously."

We rolled out JOM to about 2000 people with disabilities through an employment program. With one particular corporate organisation we found that people were trying to get employment but some of them had barriers to employment, some of them were long-term unemployed and some of them were recently made redundant. We saw a common thread regarding getting in touch with how they wanted to show up, and how the dimensions of wellness impacted their ability to find and maintain sustainable work. It could be something as small as nutrition. For example, some of the people we worked with were unaware of how sugar might affect them – they were going to bed with two litres of coke (it’s an extreme example but a good one) and then wondering why they were unable to get up in the morning and why they had no energy and it was a struggle to make it to an appointment. This program highlighted to them that it’s not just about the job, but the need to focus on every aspect of their life – to get the job but thrive in that job as well.

Besides physical products like books, Wellineux also sells retreats and workshops. Tell me a bit about them. How are your workshops and retreats different from others? What is unique about them?

Our programs at Wellineux are based around the aspects of JOM and mindfulness. There are two streams to what we do: public programs, workshops and retreats; and the workplace wellness programs where we go to workplaces and help workers with their wellbeing strategies. One product that we created in the very early days was Urban Retreats. It’s a one-day immersion into wellness. We found a lot of people didn’t have the time or resources available to them to actually go away for a traditional retreat, so we thought about creating something which would go from 8.30am to 5pm and which would include all the components of a traditional retreat, and be located in the city. This would make it accessible to people and make it easier for them to take one day out of work.

The Urban Retreat starts with yoga, then people go through some discovery activities including meditation and mindfulness programs. After that they have a beautiful whole foods lunch, followed by creative activities. In the afternoon they do treatments. People get a really well-rounded treatment experience. They are able to step out of their traditional lives and be healed through the whole day, giving them the space to look inwards rather than outwards, and think about all the hundreds of things they need to juggle on a daily basis. That’s what makes these retreats unique.

Do you find that people continue practising what they experience during a workshop or retreat?

When we first started Wellineux, we created everything we do, from products to workshops and strategies, to always be ongoing and be able to support people in their lives. I’ve been to lots of amazing training programs and found that often people put their notes in the bottom drawer after the program and don’t have the time to fully implement what they learnt in their lives. All of the techniques we go through at Wellineux can be incorporated into people’s lives in less than five minutes. That’s the unique way we operate. Each technique is between two minutes and five minutes, so they are very easy to implement in your daily life. We work on the principle of five per cent – an all-around mindset of what is going to make you five per cent happier on a daily basis, rather than thinking that you have to change everything.

For example, for me it is driving the beach road to work, which takes me five to 10 minutes longer in the morning, but it really sets up my day to make me five per cent happier.

All the mindfulness techniques that we deliver are part of the one-day retreat and can be done in under five minutes. We always provide people with tools that they can use after their one-day retreat. They are given a gift box with a number of things they can use in their life on an ongoing basis. That’s very important to us, ensuring people are able to take things away with them to support themselves continuously.

Are your retreats designed for women only? Do you find men participating? 

What we find is that many of the people – ‘Champions’ is what we call them – are women. Women are really curious about this and they completely gel with it. It’s exciting for them. They understand it easily and they probably have a girlfriend to talk to about it. But what we find is that men have the greatest shift as they come along. While women would book themselves into a personal retreat or corporate workshop, it is men in those workshops who have massive shifts. I think men are really open to this experience once they are in the room, and they find great techniques to implement what they learn into their lives as well.

I’m curious about corporate collaborations. How do you incorporate wellness into organisations? Do you think corporations are ready for wellness?

We incorporate wellness into workshops in many ways and it really depends on where the corporate is at in their journey around wellness and mental health. For some organisations this is brand-new information, while others have done quite a bit in the wellness and wellbeing space. They will engage with us on different topics which they have not already explored.

Mindfulness is the really big thing for workplaces at the moment and it’s centred on the drive to be more productive, to be able to deal with stress and overwhelm, and to be able to create resilience. Innovation is also really important for organisations; mindfulness is such a quick and amazing way to create innovation within an organisation.

Some of the businesses we work with need tools in their kit for resilience, so we will make a program for them which is specific to that. For some organisations it might be about innovation, so we may run a half-day workshop for that corporation and then in the afternoon they will participate in strategy and innovation work for themselves. Our role is to open them up to new ideas and creativity for problem solving, and many of those things are achieved through mindfulness techniques that we instil. Organisations which are already on the journey might get us to collaborate with them on their wellbeing strategy, which is much broader than movement or nutrition. A lot of businesses have gym memberships or healthy eating programs in place, but often haven’t tackled things like connection or rest or mind, and that’s where we come in, supporting them in those particular areas.

What are your personal favourite wellness practices?

Most often, wellness practices change for me and I learn new things over time. For me right now it is Automated Writing. This is like a journaling process. I love it because I’ve always liked the idea of journaling, but I felt I wasn’t good at it.

Automated writing basically starts you off with a sentence starter – for example, “I am at my best when…“.For two minutes continuously you have to write whatever comes into your mind, which could be that nothing comes to your mind, or it could be your to-do list, or it could be the answer to the question. It could be anything. It allows your mind to dump and filter everything that is going onto the page. It’s a really beautiful practice, particularly when you are feeling overwhelmed. It provides a lot of clarity for people, especially when they read what is written after the two minutes and realise what was affecting their subconscious and are able to find the answers they are seeking.

What changes do you find in yourself after starting this journey with Wellineux?

I have changed in many different ways. The biggest change I am noticing is how I juggle family, a growing business and working with a lot of different people. I am more in tune with what’s happening with me; I may be feeling anxious or full of energy, or maybe feel like I don’t have much energy but am able to use the power of noticing what is going on in my life and hence be the best version of me. For example, if I have had a busy day and feel like I don’t have enough energy, I am able to tune into that and think to myself, “Maybe I’ll do a yoga practice in the morning or I need a green juice this morning rather than a coffee.“ Those tiny changes make a massive difference because everyone wants to achieve their best in life and it helps to tune in and know what’s going on with you.

What do you see in the future for Wellineux?

One of the things we are looking at at the moment is having our own urban premises, something right in the middle of the city in Melbourne and Sydney and to be able to offer our services to our workplace clients and to those people who work in the city. It could be used for practices such as yoga and meditation, a space for people to run their innovation workshops, and a place to hold our retreats, which are easily accessible. A physical presence for us in the middle of the city would be something we are looking towards in the next year or so.

Do you have any further questions for Amanda? She would love to answer them in the comments below!

Original article here: https://www.wellbeing.com.au/community/holistic-q-a/a-qa-with-wellineux.html