'I'm a former stressed-out person,' confesses Marie Bizet, founder of holistic wellness studio Doing Good. ‘I’ve always been very energetic, but for a long time my stress prevented me from living my life fully.’ Living and working across Asia for the past 20 years, the French native and mother of two has always been invested in helping others, starting out her career in the humanitarian world.
When daily stresses took their toll, Bizet would turn to yoga and meditation: ‘Sometimes, you just find yourself in very difficult situations and yoga and meditation were the only things that helped me through.’ With this in mind, when she returned to Shanghai in her early 40s, Bizet decided to fulfil the promise she made to her twentysomething-self: she’d train to become a yoga instructor and find a different way to help people.
So Doing Good was born – a space that offers tailored wellness, health and personal development solutions for all ages, as well as classes like kids, couples and maternity yoga. Here she talks about tackling the stresses of city life, managing emotions, and the importance of taking the time to slow down, breathe and check in.
Can you tell us a bit about how Doing Good started and what you do?
Becoming a yoga teacher had always been a dream of mine, and after I had my second kid the timing felt right. So I just did it and absolutely loved it – teaching all kinds of yoga and meditation for me was another way of helping people. I very quickly trained in maternity yoga because I wanted to help women go through their journey, I also started with kids yoga... I really enjoyed it, but I could feel something was missing.
I loved teaching, I loved having all these people on the mat, but it felt like I was opening them up to themselves and then afterwards they wanted to talk more or had some realisations that they wanted to share or to work on, and I didn't have the tools or the space for that.
I saw that with all my students it was always stress and how they dealt with (or not knowing how to deal with) emotions that were at the heart of their issues. For example, I saw people dealing with extreme tiredness, lacking vitality, drinking excessively, eating compulsively...
I took more training in other areas like breathing techniques, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), reiki, naturopathy, TCM... Then at the beginning of this year, I created my practice Doing Good to really help people live their lives at their fullest and feel better.
Shanghai is an incredible and exciting city that’s always go go go, but for that reason it can also be a stressful place to live. What are some of the main stressors you see for families here?
It is a bustling city and there’s millions of things to do, millions of people to meet. People have very busy schedules; they’re afraid to miss opportunities so they never stop. And in this environment, it’s extremely difficult to stay centred and in contact with your inner-self and your own needs.
What does Doing Good’s approach to tackling these stresses look like?
I begin with a Start-up Consultation, a face-to-face consultation that usually takes an hour and a quarter to two hours. In this consultation, I listen to the person's story and the reasons why they’re coming to me. We work hand-in-hand to define their Doing Good strategy, how they can feel better and the different tools available.
After that, I see them for weekly or fortnightly 45-minute to one-hour sessions where we implement the strategy using their customised toolbox: whether that’s breathing, visualisation or meditation, etc. I also set homework – like journaling or practising breathing techniques – and in each session, we’ll review the week, how they felt, their anxiety or stress levels and how the tools we have designed together worked. If they didn’t work, we readjust. To be honest, the fact that people are coming to see me to feel better is already the first step for healing.
Why is it so important to take a tailored and holistic approach to wellness and managing stress and emotions?
Wellness isn’t a one-size fits all situation; it’s very different depending on the person (of all ages!), because all have different issues and stresses. Sometimes people have issues that are deeply rooted in their childhood, and sometimes it’s more recent like a work situation. Also, some people are more in tune to certain techniques, for example some are more comfortable with human touch, like massage, while others are more comfortable with talking, writing or drawing. So one single technique cannot suit everybody.
What are some of the biggest benefits of learning to understand our emotions, both independently and as a family?
When you deal with your emotions, I think you know yourself better and you feel better. You’re also not asking other people to tell you how to cope with your emotions, so you're more empowered, more centred. And then I would even say that your purpose in life is clearer. There’s so much freedom from acknowledging your emotions. And as a parent, if you know how to do that, you’re going to be able to help your children to discover and manage their own emotions.
What are some of the ways we can help kids when they’re feeling overwhelmed by stress or emotion?
First, I would reassure them, you know, ‘Do not feel guilty, it’s okay to have emotions.’ Then I would start by breathing together, and trying to identify and name the emotions – this is very important to help us understand. More than half of us are not breathing properly, but breathwork is so underrated. It helps you find your centre, find distance from the problem and circulates energy around your body. I’d suggest balloon or belly breathing. It’s a very simple trick, but do it for five rounds... Believe me, I do that with my kids all the time and it works.
Can you share some tips for people looking to get started on their health and wellness journey?
To be honest, I think the issue in Shanghai is that people are always out: out on themselves, looking out to find a solution. So I would say allow yourself to look in and instead of looking at your mobile phone, turn it off, close your eyes and tune in.
Honestly, so many people could really benefit from just closing their eyes, letting go of electronic devices and starting to really look at their everyday habits. You could journal, but even just to start really paying attention to what you eat, the way you're breathing, how you’re interacting with others will help – just allow yourself to look inside and check in.
For more information, tap the link to follow ‘Doing Good’ on WeChat.