Selfday Sunday: Managing Stress and Work-Life Balance w/ Pretty Mushroom

Nalah Garcia-Walker
Sep 23 · 8 min read

Look, I don’t know everything about managing stress — I’m still trying to figure it out myself. At the same time, finding work-life balance has been no walk in the park either.

I’m an intern, have a part-time job, and run an online business. Millennial and Gen Z folx are all about multiple forms of income and I know I’m not the only one with a lot on my plate. Mastering this juggling act of adulting definitely comes with its bouts of stress, so let us get into this week’s #selfdaysundays strategy on how to take care of yourself: the stress addition ft. Pretty Mushroom.

This July, I was introduced to a new term and a new way of dealing with stress: adaptogens. These things are a particular group of herbs and mushrooms that help balance your body’s reaction to stress. Pretty Mushroom is a brand that I’m excited to finally be able to tell you more about. I’ve mentioned them a few times during this summer, but this is where you’ll really get to know this brand that is a modern reflection of ancient cultures. Pretty Mushroom makes adaptogenic, plant-based blends to enhance your beauty, mood, and mind.

Keep reading to learn more about this yummy (think lattes, smoothies and more!) way to get your stress under control from my interview with Pretty Mushroom co-founder, Nadine Joeseph. After you’re done, I hope you’ll take a few moments to reflect on how you’ll manage your stress this upcoming week. Oh yeah, make sure you visit me on Instagram for updates on the next Selfday Sunday — you can never have to many strategies to take care of yourself.


Nadine, please introduce yourself + your brand to our readers.

Hi! I’m Nadine Joseph, co-founder and CEO of Pretty Mushroom, a company that makes adaptogenic blends to enhance your beauty, mood, and mind. I am Haitian and Italian, have a cute wiggly pup named Cora, and am really passionate about neuroscience! Currently, I’m residing in Seattle, where I love exploring with my dog.

So, about Pretty Mushroom: A while back, I was working at a lab studying the neuroscience of stress and became enthralled with the question of how the stressors of the modern world were affecting our bodies overall. While I was studying stress, I was also dealing with chronic stress and anxiety myself so this question had personal roots to it. This launched me into months of dedicated personal research into stress and adaptogens (herbs/mushrooms that help balance your body’s response to stress). I started incorporating several adaptogens — like reishi mushroom and ashwagandha — into daily smoothies and tonics. My energy levels, brain fog, eczema, and overall well-being improved tenfold. I just couldn’t believe how great I felt!

However, as I had a research background, I had very high standards for the herbs and mushrooms that I was sourcing. I wanted high purity/potency, as well as ingredients farmed with an eye towards sustainability/ethical practices. That’s a pretty hard thing to do, and it took me a very long time to find suppliers and farmers that I trusted. One day, I took a step back and looked at the all the work I had put into this, and realized that I really wanted to share my findings and research with others. So, I decided to launch a line of adaptogenic blends — so that others could easily be introduced into the world of herbs, mushrooms, and adaptogens.

How does Pretty Mushroom help those dealing with severe stress?

Each of our blends contain a base of adaptogens, which are a unique group of herbs and mushrooms that help balance your body’s reaction to stress. They do this by acting on the hypothalamic-pituitary-endocrine axis, which is where the intricate conversation between your brain and your hormonal system takes place.

Think of it this way: your brain is always dancing with multiple glands at once. Your adrenal gland, gonadal gland, and thyroid gland needs to be flawlessly in tune with your brain in order for your immune system, mood, and energy levels to be healthy. When a dance partner is out of sync — let’s say your cortisol levels are really high after a stressful month — then you may experience horomonal issues such as a low sex drive, adrenal fatigue, or thyroid issues.

This is where adaptogens come in to save the day. They improve adrenal function, protect you from disease, and enhance overall well-being. These are all things that are affected when your dealing with severe — and even chronic — stress.

What advice can you give to someone who wants to start a daily wellness ritual using adaptogens from Pretty Mushroom?

Adapto-Banana Bread

As with any other wellness ritual, consistency is key! Building the habit of incorporating adaptogens into your daily wellness routine is the most important step to get all of those feel good health benefits. You can add a teaspoon of any one of our blends into your daily morning latte, or experiment with some of the recipes we have on our site.

How do you maintain work-life balance?

Because I work from a home office, I knew that it would be especially important to establish a clear dividing line between work and life. The boundary that I found to work for me is keeping my work life between 7am to 6pm time interval, and keeping all work related activities isolated to my home office space. Though I definitely fall outside of this rule sometimes, and that’s ok too!

Can you describe what your office looks like? What’s your favorite thing about it?

If you were to walk into my office, what would be immediately noticeable is that it is intensely green; it has more plants than the average small plant shop. Other than my mini forest of plant babies, I have a long standing desk that has a small window view, and several shelves dedicated to photography props, inventory storage, and other Pretty Mushroom supplies. My favorite thing about my office? Probably my little essential oil diffuser — I’m a sucker for eucalyptus [essential oil].

What’s your go-to salad recipe at the moment?

I’m currently loving this salad on the Sakara Life blog (sans the flowers because I’m not that fancy)!

The wellness industry is lacking space for people of color. What are some tips for business owners + consumers to change this?

One big problem with the wellness industry is that it exceedingly caters to Caucasian women with a disposable income. As a WOC in the wellness space, it is frustrating that minorities aren’t being represented in an industry that is supposed to be about self-care and mindfulness.

As a pre-teen, I remember going to a yoga class with my aunt. She had just done her big chop, and had a mini fro among a sea of blond ponytails — but my aunt had no hesitation. It didn’t matter that we were the only women of color in the room. She belonged there and had the courage to take care of herself in that way. She is a big reason why I have the courage to be in white spaces like the wellness industry. And why I want to be seen as founder as this company — to show others like me that yes, wellness if for you too. One important step towards diversification is for people of color in the wellness space to be visible.

Another step towards diversification is really respecting the self-care practices and herbal medicines from the east that we are incorporating into western wellness. This starts with courcing mindfully, ethically, and sustainably. Period. When we are talking about wellness, it is especially important to provide products that are produced and handled in a way that supports mental and physical well being, as well as supports the future of our earth. When we support the melanin-blessed people who produce our ingredients, we are helping them become more visible within this space.

How did your family influence your wellness practices?

There are so many micro-stories that I could share about how my family influenced my wellness routine. But the roots really come down to my mom (as so many things do!) and my aunt, who were really big figures in showing me what wellness and self care are.

In both her actions and her words, my mom taught me to appreciate the earth and to be grateful for the plants, mushrooms, and animals that live on it. Whether it was through making turmeric-bentonite clay masks when I was 10, or through picking up trash that washed up on our beaches in Florida. My general philosophy of appreciating natural beauty and sustainable living was definitely something that I got from her.

My aunt, on the other hand, taught me about self care and mindfulness. It is because of the many conversations I had with her growing up that I place so much value on my own health and wellbeing.

Can you give us a wellness tonic recipe using your choice of a Pretty Mushroom blend + watermelon juice + lavender?

Sure! Here’s a recipe that I’ve been experimenting with:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c watermelon juice
  • 1/2 c sparkling water
  • 1 tsp genius mushroom blend
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp culinary grade lavender buds

How to make:

Heat the watermelon juice and steep the lavender buds in the hot juice for 7 minutes. Strain the buds out and then add the sparkling water, Genius Mushroom blend, and honey to the juice. Refrigerate for 3–4 hours, then enjoy cooled!


Nadine Joseph is the co-founder of Pretty Mushroom, a line of adaptogenic blends that enhance beauty, mood, and mind. With a background in neuroscience research, she created Pretty Mushroom as a way to simplify the oftentimes confusing world of adaptogens into something inclusive, approachable, and science-backed. Keep up with Pretty Mushroom and Nadine on Instagram!

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade