At age 21, Michelle Johns was a single mom with two young children. She was balancing college classes and working full time while taking care of her kids. Though still young, she had the maturity to realize that to do these roles well, she also needed to spend time on herself, and so her self-care practice began out of necessity.

An Intrinsic Need

Before the idea was popular, Michelle knew, “I could only care for others as well as I cared for myself.” She dedicated the early morning hours to a routine. At 5 am, she started by reading scripture, sitting in stillness, and doing a 30-minute workout. 

Prayer, meditation, and moving her body became anchors for her during a hectic time. “We can’t do life perfectly, but we can set ourselves up as much as possible for success,” she explains.

Building On Her Experience

After having various successful roles in corporate America, Michelle was 41 when found herself at a crossroads. Her company had been acquired and her position was moving out of state. She used this moment as an opportunity to pursue a passion she’d held since a young age.

“I decided to go back to school to pursue my bachelor’s degree in psychology,” Michelle recalls. After finishing, she combined that with her previous experience and worked in corporate wellness. 

In 2020, she celebrated turning 50 and the completion of her master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling. She is currently a MA, TLPC-MHSP, NCC affiliated with and supervised by licensed professional counselor Christina Burns, LPCMSP, CEDS-S, CCTP.

Blending Mind & Body

It was curiosity that led Michelle to try yoga. “I decided to try it as a form of exercise, but I quickly learned that yoga is a transformative mindfulness-based practice,” she explains. She completed her yoga teacher training in 2014, merging her passion for physical and emotional well-being. She says: “You can’t have a conversation about physical health without discussing mental health. Everything is connected; the body stores our emotions and experiences,” Michelle says. 

Michelle’s interests culminated this year when she opened Transforming Wellness in Germantown. Her business offers yoga classes and corporate wellness services, including programs for intuitive eating, movement, and mindfulness. Her mindfulness-based movement classes bring your awareness to how you experience life in your body physically, emotionally, and cognitively. 

An important facet of Michelle’s business and her work as a mental health counselor is to teach others how to practice self-care. She explains: “Self-care is an investment in yourself to sustain a quality of life. By taking time to care for yourself, you are making the world a better place to be.”

Rituals as Self-Care

Breathwork, mindful eating, sweating in an infrared sauna, running, strength training, and going to therapy are other rituals Michelle includes. She says: “Everyone can benefit from therapy, even if it’s just once a month. It’s an opportunity to check in with yourself and process your feelings with a trained professional.”

She encourages her clients to check in with themselves daily. “It’s hard to know what you believe and how you feel without taking time to sit in stillness,” Michelle explains. “Take a moment to pause and simply breathe. Notice what you’re feeling in your body and how those feelings are helping you care for yourself at the moment.” 

Managing her new business and clients keeps Michelle busy, but she also commits to taking every Monday off to unplug and recharge. She spends her downtime with her husband, three children, and two grandchildren.  

Caring for Others

Michelle believes that in addition to connecting to yourself, you should connect to your community. It all comes back to the central theme from Michelle’s youth, “When we practice self-care, we are better equipped to care for others.” It’s only through this thoughtfully crafted practice of self-care that she’s able to help others through her work as well as when she volunteers at Bing Dance House, a program that provides free dance training and Christian servant leadership development to young ladies in the Binghampton community. 

By Morgan Stritzinger

Photo by Tindall Stephens