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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Interview: Julia Grace talks about Be Kind to Your Mind

Julia Grace is the President of the NZ Professional Speakers Association, an award-winning International Keynote speaker & NZ Music award winner. She is often a contributor to NZ media in the area of mental health and well-being and speaks worldwide as she draws from both her lived experience with depression and anxiety and her educational background. Julia is a qualified Mental Health First Aid Instructor with Te Pou Mental Health services, and has taught in NZ schools for over 30 years.

Julia talks to NZ Booklovers about her first book, Be Kind to Your Mind, a book for everyone - no matter where you sit on the mental wellness spectrum.

What inspired you to write Be Kind to Your Mind?

As a professional speaker and storyteller, part of my journey has always been sharing the process of change in my own life. A diagnosis of anxiety and depression started the process of learning how to manage and deal with mental health challenges.  This time it was very personal, but also very healing to share the things that have worked for me along the way. 

What research was involved?

I dug deep into my background in teaching, revisiting my Education Psychology papers and upskilling with current qualifications. I spent a lot of time reading and reviewing heavy texts and turning the insights I gained into bite-sized chunks so anyone could understand. 

What was your routine or process when writing this book?

As a born creative I am gifted in the art of procrastination! Many times I would write because I was supposed to be doing something else. (If you want me to write, tell me to clean the house and vice versa.) 


This was juxtaposed with three significant periods of time when I went away on writing retreats. One particular time my husband and I stayed at a close friends chalet in Ohakune and I ‘shut’ myself upstairs and didn’t come down for three days (within reason).  


Mykle provided ‘room service’ and I smashed out a huge chunk of the book in that time, really breaking the ground that I needed to make it feel like Be Kind to Your Mind was ready for the next part of the process.  

Tell us about the songs in the book.

 Writing and performing songs remains a key part of my live speaking presentations and I wanted to make sure the reader could access them as well. Music circumvents the head and goes straight to the heart and I loved the opportunity to include some of my favourite tracks off my albums as a soundtrack to the story. Readers can access a free download of the songs so they can listen as they go. 


What did you enjoy the most about writing Be Kind to Your Mind?

When I speak, I will have anywhere between 45 minutes to 3 hours to get a message of hope and encouragement to listeners. Writing Be Kind to Your Mind has allowed me to expand and elaborate on what I share and reach a greater number of people. 

What are two things you hope people take away from reading your book?

Understanding that we all have Wobbly days and a bit more about what is happening in our brains and bodies in those moments. 

I would love EVERYONE to get themselves a Jelly Buddy, someone who is pre-planned to help support them on their Wobbly days! 

What did you do to celebrate finishing this book?

I am currently speaking on a Cruise ship in Bali, which (while still working) has been an epic way to celebrate the release of Be Kind to Your Mind. 

What is the favourite book you have read so far this year and why?

Huia Come Home by Jay Ruka is my latest read. It’s a thought-provoking and eye-opening look at our history and I’m absolutely loving this beautiful, locally written book. In Huia Come Home, Ruka artfully creates a link between the mis-steps of the past and a hopeful future, challenging me as the reader to both listen and learn.


What’s next on the agenda for you?

Be Kind to Your Mind will be being released on audio-book later this year as well as a follow-up Podcast to come. Combined with a full schedule of speaking engagements in NZ, Australia and the UK I’m excited to take Be Kind to Your Mind to the world. 


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