Rebecca O’Brien of Wellness by Rebecca: Getting An Upgrade; How Anyone Can Build Habits For Optimal Wellness, Performance, & Focus

Parveen Panwar, Mr. Activated
Authority Magazine
Published in
11 min readDec 23, 2020


Prioritize self-care and relaxation. When it comes to performance at work or in a sport it’s about balance. Check-in with yourself daily, to gain insight into what you need emotionally or physically that day.

As a part of our series about “How Anyone Can Build Habits For Optimal Wellness, Performance, & Focus”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rebecca O’Brien.

Rebecca O’Brien is a Certified Stress Management & Burnout Prevention Coach, Mindfulness Instructor, and Nutritionist. She went through her own mental and physical burnout in 2014 and was sick for two years. After 15 years of International Sales & Marketing, she knows firsthand the impact of corporate stress and its consequences on our health.

Which is why she is so passionate about helping IT Executives reduce stress, prevent burnout & create sustainable success.

Through her private coaching, and corporate programs Rebecca helps clients reduce stress, and gain clarity and confidence through developed strategies of unbreakable boundaries, high performing habits, and a powerful mindset.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I’m Swedish/ Irish heritage, born in Ireland but we moved to San Jose, CA shortly thereafter. At the age of 11 we moved to Sweden, as my parents wanted to be close to family and give us the opportunity of learning about our culture and a second language. This was of course very difficult, and a massive change that took me years to settle into.

When I graduated at 19 my goal was to spread my wings, move abroad, and work for an international company. So that is what I did, my years in corporate Sales & Marketing were spent in Dublin, Madrid, Gothenburg, and London. It was a fantastic experience that lasted 15 years. But was I happy? Not really. Looking back my heart and soul wasn’t in it, but I didn’t want to get off the “train to success”. Then in 2014 I hit the wall and was diagnosed with burnout and depression.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

Well, as a passenger on the “career train”, I had blinders on and wasn’t listening. So ultimately it was my burnout that forced me to listen. I paid the price and I was sick for two years while spending the first 6 months in bed. I did a lot of inner work, healing, and various types of therapy which allowed me to take the next step in my life. This is where I learned to listen to my heart and intuition, which led me to my true purpose in life.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

My parents and my sister. My sister Emily has always supported me and encouraged me along the way. Also, a dear friend or “my angel” as I call her named Magdalena, whom I met at a healing retreat the summer before I decided to go back to school. The school I applied for was in Stockholm, I knew no one there, I was broke, and still hadn’t recovered from burnout fully. Magdalena opened up her home and supportive heart as I started school in Stockholm to pursue my new career.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

The biggest lesson I’ve learned is I wish I had understood the value of having a mentor or coach in the business I was trying to pursue. Yes, you can start a business on your own with very little to no money. But if I were to do it again, I would have saved up money beforehand and invested in myself, through a coach/ mentor to save time and energy.

The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?

Self-Mastery. Understand your strengths and weaknesses, and what your work-life balance looks like by deepening your self-awareness.

Don’t be afraid of failing. Try as many things as you can. Try, test, fail, and try again!

Entrepreneurship can be a very lonely road. Surround yourself with like-minded people, through a network and community that is all about a positive mindset, dreams, and success.

Confidence is built by taking imperfect action and stepping outside your comfort zone. You will never be 100% ready, take the step.

Write down your goals and visualize/ meditate on them every day.

The key to burnout prevention is practicing rest, relaxation, and self-care which create sustainable success.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

As a Mindfulness Instructor, Jon Kabat-Zinn books have had an impact on me. I always recommend his book “Wherever you go, There you are” to my clients as it’s a simple and fantastic introduction to Mindfulness.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

“Health is Wealth” and “Sometimes when you’re in a dark place, you think you’ve been buried, but actually you’ve been planted.” — Christine Caine. This quote is very personal, as I was in my darkest place in 2014 and it gave me hope. I went through hell during my burnout, but grateful that I got a second chance in life.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

With Covid hitting us this year and taking a toll on our mental health I have spoken to many that are exhausted and struggling while working from home. Please know, you are not alone.
Living on autopilot, with stress, and taking your frustrations out on the people who matter most to you, is not part of life goals.
I get it, which is why I created my 1:1 coaching program Into Empowerment™. Which include 4-steps that are: Self-Mastery, Powerful Mind/Mindfulness, High Performing Habits, and Unbreakable Boundaries that help you gain peace and clarity, to create sustainable success.

I’m also working towards more speaking engagements on Burnout Prevention in 2021 and teaching at Wellness Retreats.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. This will be intuitive to you but it will be helpful to spell this out directly. Can you help explain a few reasons why it is so important to create good habits? Can you share a story or give some examples?

Good habits will support and help fuel your energy, clarity, and action steps towards your goals. They are part of your building blocks to become the best version of you.

The habits you form today, by choosing to eat vegetables with every meal, for example, will bring you closer to your goal of becoming a healthier person.
Habits are also a reflection of our self-worth, which makes sense as they go hand in hand with our daily choices.

How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?

Yes, healthy habits of nutrition, exercise, self-care, and meditation, have played an important role in my journey. I give myself 30 min before I reach for my phone in the mornings. I start the morning with a short gratitude list and a breathing exercise. Another habit I practice is taking small breaks throughout my workday and a longer midday walk in nature.
These habits have helped me with clarity, focus, and taking aligned action each day. Which supports me in sustainable health.

Speaking in general, what is the best way to develop good habits? Conversely, how can one stop bad habits?

It comes down to self-awareness, discipline, and patience. A habit takes around 60 days to form, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you miss one day. Just get back on it, the following day.

Reflection and self-awareness can help you understand what is going on subconsciously or consciously. Ask yourself: Why am I doing this? How is this affecting my energy? Once awareness is there, you can catch yourself when starting the bad habit, and choose differently at that moment.

Let’s talk about creating good habits in three areas, Wellness, Performance, and Focus. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum wellness. Please share a story or example for each.

Sleep is a crucial part of optimum wellness, as your brain and body need to rest. The 7–8 hours recommended, re-energize your body’s cells and supports your brain with learning and memory among other things.

Movement is a simple way to increase your quality of life and has many health benefits, both physically and mentally. The key is to find what exercise you enjoy, whether it’s running, swimming, weight training, or even better a mix of activities.

Nutrition, because I believe you are what you eat. For me clean food is really important, it supports me in feeling my best. I recommend reading the ingredient label on the back of each product. You might be surprised by how many processed ingredients and sugars are hidden in the most basic of foods.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

Look at your sleep patterns, are you giving yourself time to unwind in the evenings? Switch off electronic devices an hour before bedtime which helps calm your mind. Set the temperature to around 70 degrees in the bedroom, and let some fresh air in just before you go to bed. Add a few drops of essential lavender oil under your pillow, which supports deep relaxation.

Reflect on your eating habits. Ask yourself; How is my daily diet supporting me? How much energy do I have? Write a 4-day food diary and really look at what you are consuming from morning to night, and then make changes one step at a time.

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal performance at work or sport? Please share a story or example for each.

Stop comparing yourself to others and be mindful of how you speak to yourself. You are unique and the only comparison should be on who you were yesterday. Remind yourself of your accomplishments, focus on growth, and implement habits for your success.

Prioritize self-care and relaxation. When it comes to performance at work or in a sport it’s about balance. Check-in with yourself daily, to gain insight into what you need emotionally or physically that day.

Self-Mastery. The inner work through self-awareness will help you discover your values, your why, and bring clarity to goals. A powerful technique is writing these down through journal prompts, and then reading your goals out loud every day.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

Practice taking imperfect action, getting comfortable with being uncomfortable each day. Don’t be afraid of taking that step because this is where your confidence will grow, even through the smallest step!

Self-care looks different for everyone, what does your mind and body need at this very moment? One of my favorite self-care practices is taking a mindfulness walk in the forest. Using my senses, and grounding myself to mother earth. Smelling the pine cones, trees, and closing my eyes while listening to the birds.

Self-Mastery can be practiced by identifying patterns of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, through Cognitive Behavior Therapy for example. You can also gain knowledge of your limiting beliefs and self-sabotaging ways through journaling and CBT practices.

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal focus? Please share a story or example for each.

Practicing Mindfulness helps you be present in each moment, right here, right now. I implement the tips from a Mindful Workday for optimal focus.

Keep yourself hydrated. Our body is made up of 80% water, therefore being dehydrated no matter how mild can impair our performance, focus, and cognitive abilities.

Time blocks can help you focus while you are at work. Set a timer to 90 minutes and then take a short 5 min break.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

Eliminate distractions, place your phone in another room while working, and set notifications to silent. Put 3 things on your To-do list, not 10 things. Then when those 3 things are done you can add another 3 for that day. Avoid multitasking, as it’s proven we make twice as many mistakes and it takes us twice as long to complete the task.

Keep a bottle of water at your desk, and in your car. Aim to drink at least 2 liters a day so that you keep your mind and body hydrated.

Take breaks throughout the day. Try to include movement and go outside for a walk during your lunch break.

As a leader, you likely experience times when you are in a state of Flow. Flow has been described as a pleasurable mental state that occurs when you do something that you are skilled at, that is challenging, and that is meaningful. Can you share some ideas from your experience about how we can achieve a state of Flow more often in our lives?

When I put myself first and choose healthy habits and aligned action, this comes with ease. Ask yourself “what brings me joy” and do more of that for example. This can also spark your creativity in different ways. My most creative times at work are in the evening, or while taking a shower, or when going for a long walk.

I enjoy listening to binaural beats while working, which helps bring me into a state of flow and focus.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I would love to see mental health, self-awareness, and self-care be taught early in school. Young children growing up with phones and social media are struggling with their mental health already. There are a few studies published, and a book I read a few years ago was truly eye-opening. ”The Coddling of the American Mind” by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them :-)

Madam Vice President, Kamala Harris, to discuss mental health awareness and how we can end the stigma in today’s society.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Follow me on Linkedin, Rebecca O’Brien- Wellness by Rebecca, and at

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.



Parveen Panwar, Mr. Activated
Authority Magazine

Entrepreneur, angel investor and syndicated columnist, as well as a yoga, holistic health, breathwork and meditation enthusiast. Unlock the deepest powers