Get your Zzz’s. Sleep is your body’s chance to recover from the previous day and prepare you for your next! Each person is different, but we usually require around 7 hours per evening. Learn more about your ideal sleeping habits by discovering your chronotype…
As a part of my series about the “5 Things Anyone Can Do To Optimize Their Mental Wellness” I had the pleasure of interviewing Julia Broglie. Julia was inspired to create BroglieBox after experiencing her own mental health challenges as a young adult and losing her older brother Justin to suicide when he was just 24. Justin’s passing provoked Julia to imagine a new way to deliver support and connection to those struggling with mental health challenges in today’s hectic, fast-paced and often impersonal world. The idea for BroglieBox was born: an all-inclusive seasonal subscription box that delivers tools and resources for mental wellness and stress relief in a way that feels warm, lighthearted, and fun.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
Sure! I studied chemical engineering in college and went on to start my career in the cosmetics and skincare industry. I liked my job but my world flipped upside down when my brother died by suicide, and it forced me to really consider how I wanted to spend the rest of my life. After he died, I started openly speaking about his struggles with depression and my own struggles with anxiety and depression. I was always the “girl with the big smile who had it all together” and I worked hard to maintain that…only to realize that by sharing my struggle, I was actually creating a space for people feel less alone and to talk about these highly stigmatized topics.
Friends and family unexpectantly started coming “out of the woodwork” to share their own experiences with their mental health and sometimes even asked me for resources. Wanting to have resources to share when this happened, I started an excel spreadsheet of any tools and resources I found to be helpful in the mental wellness space.
I thought to myself “how do I get this in front of people so that mental wellness can be a part of everyone’s daily lives?” Using my knowledge of subscription boxes from the beauty space, I realized that this model was a great way to provide value to people on an on-going basis. What started as a passion project quickly turned into my mission for my career.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I think I am always amazed that once people learn about BroglieBox, they can’t believe it doesn’t already exist. This signals to me that it has been needed for a long time.
Many of the BroglieBoxes are purchased as gifts for their loved ones. One subscriber told me that she had been concerned about her daughter’s mental health but her daughter was very closed off to having a conversation about it. She sent her daughter a BroglieBox and included the most touching personal note expressing how much she cared about her daughter and was always there to talk, if needed. Her daughter received her BroglieBox with the message and it opened a safe space for the mother and daughter to talk, and eventually the daughter was comfortable enough to allow her mother help her get the professional help she needed.
Mental health feels very “scary” to some people, which is probably due to the stigma associated with it right now. This is why it was important for BroglieBox to be packaged in a way that feels warm, lighthearted and even fun.
Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?
One hilarious mistake I made was that I forgot to add my website to my business cards when I first got them printed. It taught me to pause and pay attention to the small details, the ones that actually matter! I was just rushing out of excitement that I missed arguably the most important thing to include on my business cards!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Couldn’t agree more! There have been countless supporters and I would not have been able to come this far without them. I am particularly grateful to my partner and co-founder Dustin Belt, who originally gave me the courage to start the business. He patiently stood by my side as I experienced the roller coaster of emotions that comes with being an entrepreneur. One time I ordered a pallet of product to my apartment and panicked when the delivery truck showed up (I didn’t realize that it was coming on a pallet and I truly had no way of “receiving” a pallet at my apartment building). Instead of panicking like me, Dustin said “don’t worry, we will fix this” and he backed up his pick-up truck to the delivery truck and we were able to get the product without a hitch!
What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?
Practice what you preach! I take my own mental health very seriously. If you aren’t well, then your work will suffer and your family will suffer.
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
Someone said this to me early on and it has stuck with me: you and your team are your company’s greatest assets. Treat yourself and your team as such.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Mental health is often looked at in binary terms; those who are healthy and those who have mental illness. The truth, however, is that mental wellness is a huge spectrum. Even those who are “mentally healthy” can still improve their mental wellness. From your experience or research, what are five steps that each of us can take to improve or optimize our mental wellness. Can you please share a story or example for each.
At BroglieBox, we like to promote “mental fitness.” One easy way to think of this is like running a marathon. The person who wants to run the marathon trains almost every single day, building to have the endurance to run the full 26.2 miles. Additionally, the person is usually doing more than just running to prepare; they are holistic in their approach to race day. Mental wellness should be treated the same way. Every single one of us will experience some sort of crisis or stressful event at some point– that’s just the way life goes. In order to be prepared during these times, we must “train” with mental fitness every day. Sometimes that means practicing mindfulness by doing a body scan to reflect on where we are holding tension. Other times, that means going to therapy. Mental wellness is not a one-size fits all, which is why it is important to try different methods and techniques to see what works best for you.
Far too many wait until there is an issue, and then struggle to find the right help or feel overwhelmed to even begin to search for help.
From our research, there are areas in which we can proactively approach mental wellness daily:
- Check out Mindfulness. Being more mindful can require some work at first. An easy way to start is with meals. With each bite, take note of the colors, the taste, texture, and smell. Try to describe it in as much detail as possible. While you are eating, pay attention to the food you are using to nourish your body rather than scrolling through your phone or watching tv while eating. Mindfulness teaches us that we are not our thoughts, and by separating our thoughts from us, we can observe our thoughts and emotions without any sort of judgement. One item to highlight from a BroglieBox is the “Mindfulness On the Go Cards” by Dr. Jan Chozen Bays. There are 52 cards, each with a simple mindfulness pratice. What I like aobut these cards is that they don’t try to make mindfulness complicated — they suggest a technique on the front and explain why it works on the back. ( Source )
- Give thanks. Gratitude practices look different for everyone but the results are always the same: a new sense of appreciation and positive outlook on life. Begin by listing three things you are grateful for every single day. You can create routine by doing it at a certain time of day (right when you wake up or before bed) or you can set an alarm on your phone for a random time in the middle of the day. My favorite is to write three things on a small post-it note and stick it to my bathroom mirror. After some time, you will run out of room on your mirror so you can easily fold the notes and place them in a glass jar. On a day you might be feeling down, grab one of your old gratitude notes and read what you wrote! One item to highlight for this category is Pockitudes Gratitude Journals. These pocket-sized journals are perfect because you can take them on the go with you. One side of the page is prompts for you to answer and the other side is blank for you to free write or doodle. ( Source )
- Get your Zzz’s. Sleep is your body’s chance to recover from the previous day and prepare you for your next! Each person is different, but we usually require around 7 hours per evening. Learn more about your ideal sleeping habits by discovering your chronotype, a concept developed by Michael J. Breus, Ph.D. who specializes in sleep disorders. One item to highlight here would be weighted sleep eye mask and weighted blankets from Blanquil. Weighted eye masks and blankets have been shown to promote deeper sleep and more restful nights, decrease stress, and settle down more quickly. ( Source )
- Stay Hydrated. An easy way to take care of your brain is to make sure you are drinking enough water! Dehydration causes your circulation to slow, which can lead to decreased cognitive function, brain fog, and possibly exacerbate the symptoms of anxiety and depression. I personally feel the difference when I am not drinking enough water. One easy way to remind yourself to drink water is to use an Ulla Hydration Reminder. This little device can be attached to your water glass or bottle. It has a built-in motion sensor and if you forget to pick up your water to drink, it will light up every hour to remind you to take some sips. ( Source )
- Explore the touchy-feely. These sensory experiences include massage, aromatherapy, tactile methods. I tend to hold my stress in my upper back/ shoulders, and I would get debilitating knots which would be extremely painful. As I write this, I remind myself to relax my shoulders since they tend to creep up closer to my ears the longer I work at a computer. Massage always seemed like something for the “rich and famous” and I never knew the actual scientific benefits of massage until I started researching tips to promote mental health. Now, I use massage tools to self-massage daily to prevent the tension from building up and causing me more pain and stress that I originally had! I also create a calm-promoting environment by using aromatherapy diffuser with essential oils. The smell of fresh oranges can help wake me up. The smell of lavender can help calm me down when I am getting ready for bed. My favorite massage tool is a cold therapy roller by Gaiam. It glides along your back super easily and can be put in the freezer for a cooling experience. ( Source )
Much of my expertise focuses on helping people to plan for after retirement. Retirement is a dramatic ‘life course transition’ that can impact one’s health. In addition to the ideas you mentioned earlier, are there things that one should do to optimize mental wellness after retirement? Please share a story or an example for each.
Although I do not have direct experience with retirement, I do know that any “life transition” can be very challenging. This is why a daily practice of checking in with our mental wellbeing is so important, so that when we get to these major life transitions, we are better equipped to handle them. I believe the most important habit during life transitions is to implement morning pages in a journal, which was a concept I learned from “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. Every morning, write three pages filled with whatever comes to mind: it can be absolute garbage writing, run on sentences, fragments of thought — just get it out of your head and onto paper. It forces you to calm your mind and slow down because your thoughts are normally racing faster than your hand can write them down.
How about teens and pre teens. Are there any specific new ideas you would suggest for teens and pre teens to optimize their mental wellness?
For teens and pre-teens, it is important for them to have a safe space to share or reflect on how they are feeling. Sometimes this means journaling, and knowing with confidence that their privacy will be respected. Other times, this means educating them on the difference between depression and every day blues.
We like to recommend that each person have a mental health “advocate” — a friend or adult who they have identified to turn to in times of crisis. No matter what the circumstance, the advocate will provide support without judgement. It is helpful to identify the advocate in advance so that if crisis happens, the person is not questioning who they should call.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
One book that has made a significant impact on me is You Are A Bad*ss by Jen Sincero. This book was especially helpful when I was gearing up to launch my company and felt like I was not good enough, smart enough, strong enough, qualified enough, etc to actually be the founder and CEO of my own company. This book changed my perspective on that by providing realistic and funny insights on how to change the narrative inside my head to a more productive and positive one.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
The movement would most definitely be for people to be thinking about their mental health EVERY SINGLE DAY! One way to do this would be to implement preventative mental healthcare like we do with our physical bodies just like we do with our vision and dental care. We brush our teeth twice a day to prevent cavities! We should be “brushing our mind” every day too! With physical ailments, it is often looked at as external something that “happened” to the person. Whereas, mental health often feels like it is the person’s fault somehow which often prevents the person from asking for help.
My dream is that someday soon, the majority of people won’t be afraid to talk about their mental health and openly share what they are doing to help themselves feel better.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
My all-time favorite quote is “what lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us” by Ralph Waldo Emerson
This quote has kept me grounded and reminded me that no matter what happened in the past, or what happens in the future, none of it really matters unless I am okay on the inside. This quote has helped me prioritize what is important in my life.
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Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!