Women In Wellness: Linda Townsend Of Release Well-Being Center On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing

Today, more than ever, wellness is at the forefront of societal discussions. From mental health to physical well-being, women are making significant strides in bringing about change, introducing innovative solutions, and setting new standards. Despite facing unique challenges, they break barriers, inspire communities, and are reshaping the very definition of health and wellness. In this series called women in wellness we are talking to women doctors, nurses, nutritionists, therapists, fitness trainers, researchers, health experts, coaches, and other wellness professionals to share their stories and insights. As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Linda Townsend.

Linda graduated as Valedictorian when she received her MBA from Northeastern University, has a BA in Journalism from Northeastern University and later received a Graduate Certificate in Executive Coaching from William James College. After starting her career as an investigative newspaper and television journalist, then a marketing and sales executive for several high-tech companies, Linda was recognized for her work in the Young Presidents Organization (YPO), an international organization of more than 9,000 CEOs, for outstanding work coaching CEO peer groups. In founding Release Well-Being Center, Linda draws on her extensive background in the corporate environment, as well as her wellness knowledge and experience, to create an ideal “sanctuary” and community where individuals of any age and fitness level can find balance, purpose, and well-being.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

Mypersonal mantra was stolen from the airlines: “Put on your own oxygen mask first before assisting others.” As nurturers and givers, we often prioritize caring for our families, friends, work, and community before we make the time to take care of ourselves. BUT, self-care is NOT optional. Over time it will show up as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, disease, or injury — it will.

My path to this realization began in the year 2000 when I visited Canyon Ranch in Tucson, AZ. As a new mom with a demanding job, I had a lot on my plate. I was working long hours, caring for my husband and child, and giving time and energy to support my extended family, friends, and community. I felt good about myself as a doer and a giver, but I felt exhausted, stressed, and overwhelmed. While in Tucson, I immersed myself in the many wellness offerings including exercise, meditation, nutrition counseling, tapping, positive mantras, cranial sacral therapy, and more! This was truly a life-changing experience that left me feeling rejuvenated and enlightened as I boarded the plane home. That feeling has had staying power because the light bulb finally went on about the importance of taking care of myself.

Prior to my trip, I put everyone else’s needs first and if there was a window of time after that, I did something for myself. My husband, on the other hand, always made sure his self-care happened. Honestly, I was angry with him at the time for this. But he was right because after my trip I changed my whole outlook and fully embraced that approach.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?

I’d like to share my entrepreneurial journey in the hopes of inspiring others.

After visiting Canyon Ranch, I nurtured my dream to open an accessible wellness center for about 15 years but didn’t actually go for it. I took small steps such as becoming certified to teach yoga and become a wellness coach in case I decided to take the plunge but I teetered on the edge of indecision. I wasn’t sure it was a feasible business concept and I was uncertain as to whether I could get the financial backing I needed to pursue this. I had never run a business other than my sole proprietor coaching business, so the support of a lender felt like a long shot.

It was a big idea that required significant funding, in particular the spa amenities such as the Himalayan Salt Room, Sun Sauna, Eucalyptus Steam Room, and Spa Tub. I believed strongly that these were important to the concept. There were and are a lot of spas, yoga studios, and fitness centers. The amenities paired with the total wellness concept were what would make Release exceptional.

At this time I was living in Westborough, MA, and I spent a lot of time speaking with the surrounding communities and researching which amenities were needed and which actually worked. There is nothing like Release within a 45-minute drive. The demographics indicated that the surrounding area had a population of folks who understand the importance of well-being and do not view wellness approaches as a luxury, but rather a necessity.

I was also not sure if I had the courage to take the risk or the bandwidth to execute all that was required. I had three children at the time that needed my attention. Some people advised me to drop the expensive amenities or pair down my plan in other ways, but I felt the whole concept was needed for success.

When I finally committed to writing a business plan it was a pivotal experience. I learned that the wellness market was exponentially growing and there was a trend to bring holistic wellness experiences to places where people live and work.

I joined an entrepreneurial “greenhouse” where I discovered many supportive resources to navigate the journey. I utilized those resources to fine-tune my business plan and to connect with lenders who ultimately did support my plans.

So, I took the plunge and committed to pursuing my dream. The things that were hardest are now the differentiators, such as the spa amenities.

The lessons learned from this experience that I hope to share are:

  • Pick an idea you are passionate about. You will spend most of your time doing this thing so you need to love it. Also, your passion will inspire others and together you will make your idea a great reality.
  • Trust your instincts but back them up with research and data.
  • Build a network of people who will help you. There are a lot of resources available.
  • Take the plunge!

It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about a mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

In the beginning, I felt I/Release had to do everything that was part of holistic wellness ourselves. I brought in every single aspect of wellness I thought was important and tried to incorporate it into our business model. I have learned that we should stick to our core strengths and develop strong partnerships to augment what we do. This way we can focus and continually improve our offerings because we are not spread too thin, while still bringing total wellness to our community. For instance, at our new Boston location, we will not offer fitness classes but instead we will partner with the best of the best for classes. And the fitness and yoga providers will be able to share our healing services with their communities. Everyone can do what they do best and all of our communities have access to the wellness offerings!

Let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?

As nurturers and givers, we often prioritize caring for others before we make the time to take care of ourselves. I’m hoping that we can inspire more people to understand that self-care is not optional and to embrace the notion of overall well-being.

Also, we strive to help our community understand that they are unique — each person must find their own successful formula for well-being. What is medicine for me might be poison for you and vice versa. Many people ask me to tell them how they should take care of themselves but there is no one-size-fits-all to self-care. By tuning in and noticing what fuels us and what depletes us we identify what feels good, what we enjoy, and what works.

Finally, our work is to offer support, guidance, and accountability while new healthy habits are formed. We encourage the trial, error, and reflection that is needed to identify the right habits for each bio-individual person, and then consistent practice of those habits so they become sustainable. It’s a journey, we’re never “there.” We all fall off the path from time to time, but when that happens it’s important to get back to it before the healthy habits are unlearned.

Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.

Nourishing all parts of our whole selves, including physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual, is essential in maintaining a happy and healthy life. Neglecting even one piece will affect your overall well-being. Here are my top five wellness modalities for living a nourished and balanced life:

  1. MOVEMENT. Moving your body in some way is essential, not only to your physical wellness but also to cultivate a happy mind and soul. Whether you’re training for a marathon, taking a pilates class, or just walking the dog, endorphins release into your body, providing you with a sense of “feeling good.” Engaging in some kind of physical activity promotes increased mobility, flexibility, and muscle strength, but also mental clarity and peace. It is also crucial to provide your body with time to recover and heal. Body treatments support specific health concerns as well as boost overall wellness. Taking time to rest throughout your day and get a good night’s sleep will make the recovery of your body and mind come full circle.
  2. GET OUTSIDE. Nature is truly the best medicine and healer. It is important to get outside every day for a substantial period of time to really unwind and take in the surroundings. Breathing in fresh, clean air and disconnecting from day-to-day life is very important to maintaining a clear mind and body. Taking walks or running outside is a great way to combine nature with your daily movement practice as well.
  3. NUTRITION. Food and nutrition are major components to function at an optimal level. Your body requires proper fuel. Nourishing your physical self by intentionally consuming whole, nutritious foods is crucial. Additionally, we must cultivate positive nourishment for our mind and spirit as well. Maintaining healthy relationships, surrounding yourself with a community, and letting go of negative self-talk will help nourish the parts of ourselves we so often neglect.
  4. BE PRESENT. In a world where we are constantly multitasking and moving from one thing to the next, being present in the moment is difficult for many. Practicing mindfulness is so important for the wellness of the mind and spirit, as this is when you allow yourself to be in the moment truly. You might use guided meditations or practice mantras on your own, but the benefits are the same. It is essential to take the time to focus on yourself and your breath; it allows you to become present in your own life. Being kind to your mind and your soul is as important as taking care of your physical body.
  5. CREATE A SELF-CARE FORMULA THAT WORKS FOR YOU! Learning about what’s best for your individual self is essential in maintaining your personal health and happiness journey. Bio-individuality speaks to the fact that each person will have a unique set of wellness habits, preferences, and routines they can utilize. There is no “one-size-fits-all” well-being program for everyone — not everyone has the same diet, fitness level, or goals. Working with educators and other professionals can help you determine the self-care practices you can accomplish, enjoy, and stick with.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

The Release mission is to promote self-care! It is astonishing and disheartening to hear how many people still believe that prioritizing self-care is selfish. Most days, I hear a person I love and respect tell me that they don’t have time to take care of themselves. The burnout is real and in the end it impacts not only ourselves but everyone in our lives. By committing to self-care and spreading that message we can counteract the burnout and negativity that are pervasive with compassion, positivity, and acceptance. Imagine the world with more of those things!

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

I touched upon these in my lessons learned questions above but here they are again:

  1. PICK AN IDEA YOU ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT. You will spend most of your time doing this thing so you need to love it. Also, your passion will inspire others and together you will make your idea a great reality.
  2. TRUST YOUR INSTINCT, BUT BACK IT UP WITH RESEARCH AND DATA. You have an idea for a reason. If you pursue that idea and put the time into exploration to refine and develop it fully you will find the magic formula for success.
  3. BUILD A NETWORK OF PEOPLE WHO WILL HELP YOU. There are a lot of resources available! Not only will this make the journey more sustainable, but you will also benefit from the wisdom and experience of your network to make your idea stronger.
  4. DEVELOP STRONG PARTNERSHIPS TO AUGMENT YOUR OFFERINGS. This will allow you to focus on your core strengths and give you exposure to your partners’ communities as well.
  5. TAKE THE PLUNGE! Steve Jobs’s most famous quote is: “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

Sustainability, veganism, mental health, and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?

Most of these are near and dear to my heart but I will address mental health. There is a mental health crisis in this country and not nearly enough resources to help everyone who is suffering. I feel like most days I talk to someone who is struggling or has a loved one who is struggling. It is one of the reasons we do what we do at Release.

What is the best way for our readers to further follow your work online?

We publish blogs regularly on the Release website (releasewellbeingcenter.com) and our Facebook and Instagram pages (@releasewellbeingcenter). I also have an Instagram account (@lindaspursuitofwellbeing) where I share my exploration of all things wellness and engage the community in sharing their wellness experiences as well.

Thank you for these fantastic insights! We wish you continued success and good health.