Stephanie Varda, is a life coach specialising in stress management and image consultancy.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
My name is Stephanie and I am a life coach who specialises in stress management, confidence building and image. I was diagnosed with kidney failure at a young age, and surgery became a mainstay of my life until my mid.20s. My anxiety and stress levels were sky high, but one day as a sat in the doctor’s waiting room I came across a magazine article about life coaching. It talked about different life coaches, how they work and what they specialise in. When I got home, I Googled an English life coach who was working in my native Greece. I started working with him and it helped me immensely. I decided to retrain as a life coach and have since spent many years helping clients with their stress, confidence and image- issues that I personally understand and know can be managed with the right approach and methods.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
I like to think that my career found me. During those years of dialysis with the fear of the unknown, stress was my constant companion. I realised just how powerful a force stress actually is, and what a profound effect it can have on our physical and mental wellbeing. But my experience also gave me strength and patience, and inspired me to help others to achieve their goals of managing their stress better, no matter what obstacles and challenges they may have in their path. Before I retrained as a life coach, I was actually working as an event planner and that was always my plan. Sometimes though, life just has something else up its sleeve for you!
Have you faced any challenges along the way? How did you deal with them?
As well as deciding to open my own life coaching business, I also decided to move to the UK. You might imagine that as a life coach things are never stressful, but in reality stress never goes away you just learn to recognise the triggers, and implement techniques and tools to deal with it. We usually feel stress when we get overwhelmed, and starting a business and moving to a new country could both qualify as overwhelming situations. I coped by taking things step by step, and not thinking in terms of ‘wow, I’ve got a whole business to start up here’ but into smaller chunks like ‘today I’m going to connect with people who can help me on my website’. I remained positive, and congratulated myself on every small step I made and those small steps started to add up to something pretty great.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you ever had a mentor or do you mentor anyone?
Yes, I had a mentor a few years back and it helped me so much, I began to believe in myself and take control of my own life. Often, we can be guilty of becoming too passive, and letting life go on without us. This can be through fear, a lack of confidence or worries about self-image and slowly you disengage. For me, a mentor can be a lot like a life coach. Someone who is in your corner, and there to give you that push you need at just the right time. Having experienced the benefits of mentoring for myself, I would like to do the same for others.
If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?
This is a very good question! I think the one thing that would make the most difference for women in the workplace is to be given more credit. To be applauded when they’ve done something great, and to be recognised for the multiple plates they often keep spinning at one time. More women than you might imagine struggle with stress and self-image, it’s not something that is always noticeable in the workplace. But that kind word and acknowledgement can count for an awful lot.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
Actually biting the bullet, giving up my job and starting Stephanie Varda Life Coaching. I always say that I have the best job in the world, I help people feel better, boost their confidence and show them that a joyous, fulfilling and meaningful life is absolutely achievable. Every person I help to feel stronger, happier and less stressed makes me feel immensely proud.
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
For a while my business model was face to face meetings, but lately I’ve moved all coaching online. This works well for clients in terms of fitting coaching into their busy days, and also means I can work internationally. I plan to expand the image consultancy side of the business where I work with women to develop looks through Polyvore, a site that pulls together clothes and accessories from everyone from high street brands to designers. Then they can buy right from the page. People sometimes ask me what image has to do with stress, and I tell them: everything. How you feel and how you perceive you look has a huge effect on our confidence levels, our stress levels and our life overall.