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Meet Jelan

My name is Jelan Agnew, LCSW and I am an award-winning Mindfulness Speaker, Coach and Facilitator.  I am the recipient of both Hartford Business Journal’s 40 Under Forty award and CT Magazine’s 40 under 40 award, and am a highly rated TEDx Speaker. I have 12+ years of experience as a DBT Therapist, Adjunct Professor and Workshop/Training facilitator. Founder of Nalej of Self, LLC, our mission is to help individuals and organizations, by teaching mindfulness skills to address burnout. 


Nalej of Self, LLC started off as a private practice, providing individual, group and family therapy. But, during the pandemic, things started to shift for me. Being a therapist in 2020 became emotionally overwhelming. The need for therapists was high, and my business phone was ringing non-stop. Like many others during the pandemic, it was difficult to manage my own mental health. My depression and anxiety increased substantially, and I struggled with addiction. There would be many days when I’d see 8 clients back-to-back, and have nothing left to give myself, completely exhausted and feeling constantly engaged in fight or flight. While I absolutely care for every human being I have worked with, (because they are dope and amazing humans), I realized I was experiencing severe burnout. On a mind, body, spirit level.


I had a rock bottom. An ugly one. One that took me to the ICU.  (You’ll have to wait for the book for that story!) I remember feeling like I was at a crossroads, and I had to make a choice. A choice about what I really believed in. I had been teaching healing, but neglecting my own. Eager to help others, at the expense of myself. That’s backwards, (insert the airplane mask analogy here). I had to make a choice and I chose healing. I’ve been sober from alcohol since January 29, 2021. And I’ve made a conscious choice to prioritize my health. The journey has been intense and amazing and scary and all the things. 


I realized I needed to overcome my own burnout. It was like after my rock bottom, I woke up in a life that didn’t feel meaningful to me anymore. Almost like a life someone else created. And it was. It was a life created from and in survival mode. I followed the rules (most of them lols). Went to school, got a couple degrees, got a job, bought a house, started a business… I was supposedly living the American dream. When I walked away from my rock bottom, I realized... my values had changed. I didn’t really care about the same things anymore. My boundaries were off, people had too much access to me. I was moving from achievement to achievement without feeling successful on the inside. I was neglecting my health and mental health. It was a mess!


What I learned is, burnout comes from our value system and lives in our nervous system. It’s not enough to “just get some rest” when our values make us feel guilty about resting.  It's not enough to work on self care, when, at the end of the day, we don’t have much self left to care for. If we want to overcome burnout, we have to address the values that keep us overworking ourselves. For example, through this process, I realized that hard work is no longer a value of mine. Hard work is a short term success strategy, and does not guarantee any financial success. My new value is smart work. Through  life experience, we learn things that change our values, and it is important that we recognize when they change.


During this process, I created the Mindful Burnout Recovery Roadmap. The Mindful Burnout Recovery Roadmap is a 9 step guide to overcoming burnout. I used core concepts of Mindfulness, elements of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), what I had learned from years of working as a therapist and life experience. The Mindful Burnout Recovery Roadmap takes a deep dive into values, achievement addiction, boundary setting and prioritizing mental/ physical health. It’s a roadmap to help people take a thorough assessment of what they really believe in, and build a life more in alignment with that. I utilize concepts from the Mindful Burnout Recovery Roadmap in my workshops and speaking, and created a 6 month 1:1 coaching program where we cover each concept in depth.


But why Mindfulness? When I first started teaching Mindfulness, as a module of Dialectic Behavioral Therapy, my coworker said to me, “You know you have to have your own mindfulness practice to teach mindfulness… right?” (You mean practicing what I preach? Interesting…)  From there I went on to study mindfulness and create my own practice. Integrating mindfulness into overcoming burnout is integral because when we are present in the moment, we notice more. Mindfulness helps us notice, non-judgmentally, what is going on in our world. It helps us notice what is going on in our body and in our mind. It helps us be more aware of our patterns, and the way we respond to our world. One aspect of burnout is not being present, and pushing past your own pain threshold. Being distracted causes us to be disconnected from ourselves. 


As Mindfulness Coach, Speaker and Facilitator, I tell stories that are transformative. I have a unique way of breaking down complex ideas, by telling stories that help people understand them on a deeper level. As a mindfulness coach, speaker and facilitator, I use a culmination of my education, my experience as a therapist and my life experience. The stories I tell are transformative, because they are authentic, relatable and they challenge people to think from a different perspective. The behavioral therapist in me loves to challenge the audience to sit in uncomfortable feelings. Because, discomfort is where change happens, it’s where people make shifts. 


As the Founder of Nalej of Self, LLC I am excited to provide Mindfulness Workshops, Motivational Speaking and Mindful Burnout Recovery Coaching. Go forth and have a mindful day!

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