Skip to content

Women In Wellness: Dani Dunckley on the Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing

Don’t give up: When you start your business from scratch, not everyone will support your decision and understand you. Be prepared to work extra hard to keep your personal life and business going. Do not let anyone turn you away from your dreams — including yourself! If this is what you really want, don’t give up!

As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dani Dunckley.

Dani Dunckley, MA, RYT, is a True Fulfillment Self Care Coach. She helps women in service based professions who put everyone else’s needs ahead of their own commitment to their self care so that they can make a significant and sustainable difference in the world without sacrificing themselves and while living a life they love.

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

I realized the importance of self-care when I was twelve, and my dad died in a horse racing accident. Losing him made it painfully clear how precious life is, and that none of us knows how long we have. Before he died, I watched my parents work long hours, six days a week, and saw the toll this took on them, from exhaustion to burnout to depression. I experienced similar exhaustion and burnout when I was in graduate school, studying and teaching.

That’s when I discovered yoga and quickly fell in love.

It wasn’t long until I decided to become a yoga teacher (one of the best decisions of my life) and finally felt connected and whole again. I loved teaching yoga. and I loved my students. Meanwhile, I witnessed my students, from medical doctors to social workers to teachers and therapists, struggle with exhaustion and burnout. These students came to me over and over again after class to share how much my teaching helped them and that my classes kept them from depression; relieved their anxiety; kept them focused, calm, and centered; helped them sleep, and even improved their performance at work.

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?

It would have to be me moving from Seattle to New York and taking my in person business of teaching yoga to an online business of not only teaching yoga but also teaching self-care. When I moved to NY, the only way I knew to continue teaching my Seattle students was online. And when I asked them about their biggest challenge, or what they needed help with the most, almost unanimously the answer that came in was self-care.

I learned that the main reason my students practiced with me had almost nothing to do with the asana, or postures, but with the way I invited them to slow down and be kind to themselves, to listen to and honor their bodies, to practice with compassion and levity, and to be present to their experience with love. Essentially, I was teaching them self-care through yoga.

Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Being in too much of a hurry and acting out of a scarcity mindset was my biggest mistake. I was too focused on making an income and building an audience right away. But both take time, intention, and integrity, and neither can manifest from a place of fear or lack.

I learned to trust the process; to be true to myself, rather than trying to fit myself in someone else’s mold who tells me this is what I need to do to sell; and to have a plan that’s rooted in a mindset of abundance of compassion. So the focus isn’t how much money can I make or how many followers or students can I get. It’s how can I serve. And that is with integrity, intention, and trust.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My partner and I met in a yoga class that we were both taking with one of my favorite yoga teachers, and it was clear really early on, even before our first date (although that certainly confirmed it), that there was something very special between us. He has supported me 100%, and in every way, financially, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and even as a fellow professional — he’s a therapist. Our approach as well as what we do with clients is very similar.

Ok perfect. Now 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?

I’d like to begin by sharing a statistic with you. A study on health and self-care by the Samueli Foundation states that “more than 9 in 10 physicians (96%) believe self-care should be considered an essential part of overall health, and 88 percent of patients agree.” So my work as a self-care coach is definitely helping make a bigger impact in the world! Also, it is only when we show up for and take care of ourselves that we are able to make a significant and sustainable impact in the world. This is especially true for the majority of my clients who are service providers, like therapists, social workers, and teachers.

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.

1. Morning rituals — How you start your day provides the foundation for the rest of your day, so beginning the day with rituals like meditation, drinking a glass of water, and movement set you up for a productive, joyful, and fulfilling day. It really doesn’t take much! Many of my clients have commented on how much just drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning has shifted the way they feel.

2. Midday pause & reset — During the day, it is so important to take time to pause and reset, otherwise we get overwhelmed and stressed out. Just a simple five-minute breathing break in between tasks provides you with more energy and ease.

3. Evening routine — At the end of the day most of us are tired, but often still wound up by the activities of the day, and the to-do lists for the next day. So, it is essential to take time to relax and unwind with an evening routine like journaling, going for a walk, or reading a book. If we don’t take time to unwind from the day, it’ll be more challenging for us to fall asleep and have a restful sleep, which is essential to our well-being.

4. Sleep! — Recent studies have made it very clear how essential sleep is. In fact, the World Health Organization has now declared a sleep loss epidemic throughout industrialized nations. The most important piece of advice I can give you when it comes to sleep is to stick to a sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. And set an alarm for bedtime. Often we set an alarm for when it’s time to wake up, but don’t think to do so for when it’s time to go to sleep.

5. Self-compassion — When most of us make mistakes, our first impulse is to criticize ourselves. Self-criticism is okay if it’s constructive, but most of the time it’s not and turns into self-defeating behavior where we get lost in rumination and blame. Whereas, research on self-compassion shows that people who are more self-compassionate tend to be happier, more hopeful, and optimistic. They’re less anxious, depressed, stressed, and fearful. They’re wiser and more emotionally intelligent and can regulate negative emotions more effectively.

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

Be Where You Are. In almost twenty years of teaching yoga and in the past 4 years of working as a self-care coach, the number one cause of suffering I see in my students and clients (and in myself) is fighting ourselves. And the most powerful practice to peace and freedom is allowing ourselves to be where we are. Meeting the moment just as it is. The paradox about this that I absolutely love is that as soon as you stop fighting with yourself or trying to make things different is when the transformation happens. You create space for the shift from anxious to calm to occur when you stop fighting the anxiety. It’s incredible.

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

1. Embrace discomfort: To become a successful entrepreneur, you need to become someone you’ve never been before. I spent most of my life from when I was young through my adult years not having much money or living paycheck to paycheck. No one taught me how to start a successful business. I had to learn everything on my own. The main takeaway is: DON’T be afraid to leave your comfort zone. With every new milestone in your business, you are going to face new struggles. It never ends. I know I make the right decision for my business when I stretch myself and leave my comfort zone. Your success is outside your comfort zone!

2. Personal development is non-negotiable: Your education never ends. The moment you stop listening to inspirational stories and reading educational books, your success begins to fall. You won’t see it overnight, but when you figure out why your income drops and your clients walk away, it will be too late. I learned that lesson the hard way. Be a lifelong learner!

3. Don’t give up: When you start your business from scratch, not everyone will support your decision and understand you. Be prepared to work extra hard to keep your personal life and business going. Do not let anyone turn you away from your dreams — including yourself! If this is what you really want, don’t give up!

4. Focus on what matters and let go of the rest: When I first started my business, I spent way too much time on creating a website and making a logo and getting my online image right. I was playing business instead of doing business. I was creatively avoiding out of fear. I was worrying about the facade instead of the foundation. None of the surface stuff really matters. And it’s all going to change. Focus on getting paid clients and everything else will fall into place.

5. Have fun: So many coaches and entrepreneurs make the leap because they want the freedom of running their own business and instead, their business ends up running them. And sometimes they don’t realize this until it’s too late. They wake up one day tired, unfulfilled, and trapped in a constant state of anxiety. And they don’t have the energy to do anything about it. As a coach, you’re supposed to be helping people live a good life. And it’s hard to do that if you don’t have much of a life yourself. Build your business around the life that you want to be living from the very beginning. Make time for you!

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

Sustainability because the principle of sustainability pertains to all forms of well-being, including environmental and personal.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

They can find & follow me on Instagram @selfcarebydani.

Thank you for these fantastic insights!

Women In Wellness: Dani Dunckley on the Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.