Norbella: Media+ Wellness, First Installment

February 09, 2015

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Steph blog


When we decided to expand the Norbella office into the entire fifth floor of our building, I knew right off the bat I wanted there to be one quiet room dedicated to serenity and positivity. Why? Because in the technology-driven world we currently live in, it’s all about being connected and multi-tasking. Sometimes we just need a break to decompress. Now I have to be honest, I wasn’t born with this mindset.

You see, I am what some people might call a “Type A” personality. I have intense, stress-laden tendencies. It’s my nature. I don’t know exactly where it came from as my parents are both pretty chill and take things in stride. In fact my mother constantly and lovingly says, ‘Steph, you need to stop to smell the roses.” She of course says this with her adorable Rhode Island accent in full affect. She’s right.

I have been known to lack some patience and talk over people. I’ve been a bit of a catastrophist at times. I struggle to sleep, I live by a ‘to-do’ list, everything is somewhat urgent, and I tend to put work before other (more) important things. This is all driven by another Type A characteristic which I think is very true of me – I care a lot.

This intensity has driven me to be motivated, to accomplish goals, and to invest and spend a great amount of time and effort on others in my life – both at work and outside of. But all at the expense of my mental health at times.

Everything came to a head for me this past summer going into a much needed trip to Alaska with my kids, husband and parents.  Prior to leaving, my coach, Anne Sugar, noticed how stressed out I’d been and suggested I read Dan Harris’ book, 10% Happier. Side note: it’s now often criticized but it changed my life so screw the critics.

While in Alaska I was struggling to relax, I was feeling anxious, and I was impatient. I simply couldn’t stop some of the madness going on in my head.  I wasn’t present. It wasn’t until more than half way through the trip that I picked up 10% Happier. The book is essentially about quieting the mind, without losing your edge, through meditation. I was skeptical, but willing to try anything.

Fast forward five months. While I’m not going Buddhist and I don’t necessarily meditate all the time, although there is an effort here, I started thinking about, reading about, and finding ways to calm myself. To feel better, to be happier, to slow down and be more present, and to be a better person.

Some of the things I’ve been doing regularly since that “vacation” last summer:

I’ve been reading the works of and following on Facebook some pioneers in mindfulness. Pema Chodron, Sharon Salzberg, the good ol’ Dali Lama, Brene Brown, and Mark Epstein to name a few.

I’m doing more yoga. I shoot for two classes per week along with continuing my CrossFit. I have a slew of mindfulness apps and tools on my phone – nice daily reminders to meditate or stop to think more positively. I also try to get outside for a walk whenever I can. It’s amazing what the outdoors does for my head in a short amount of time.

So how does this all relate to Norbella? Well, I’m not one to preach but I do care about having happy employees. These efforts on myself have simply made me stop and think. We’re always discussing the “what else can we do?” We’ve done employee surveys, we try to listen to the wants/needs/frustrations, we read in between the lines, and we’re always working to create an environment that our people enjoy coming to.

While I believe Norbella has always been a very compassionate and caring company (we love our employees and will do anything to help them succeed), we are looking for and planning for other ways to infuse wellness and happiness into our day-to-day.  I’m sure you will hear from us again regarding these efforts, but in the plans for our newly renovated space, and complimentary to my new little journey:

  • Zen room – a no technology, peaceful, positive, slow down room for employees
  • Leanbox – a healthy snack and lunch option
  • Employee yoga classes through a local studio
  • A new built-in kegerator – because fun, drinks, and laughter ALSO brings happiness
  • Encouraging more ‘walking meetings’ – studies show these increase creativity and raise serotonin levels
  • Burning sage in our new space – our office is supposedly haunted – and there’s a fun factor to it
  • Quarterly employee events – we’ve done comedy clubs, bowling, corn hole, ping pong, beer gardens, ghost hunting and more

Stay tuned as we embark on this journey to incorporate more balance and wellness into our lives. And be sure to share with us any tips or tricks you have as well!