Wellness Guide to Paris

Paris may be known as the City of Light, but it’s also quickly becoming a haven for holistic wellness, thanks to a host of new wellbeing destinations, spas, and healthy cafes that have sprung up in recent years.

If you find yourself looking to slow down and mend in Paris and you have a bit of a budget to spend, here are our favorite addresses in the City of Light for practicing self-care and nourishing yourself with healthy and delicious food. If you’re low on budget, you can always grab some take-out from a healthy spot and search for the nearest garden to enjoy a picnic. Our favorite parks for relaxing are Jardin des Tuileries, Jardin du Palais-Royale, Square du Temple, and of course, the most classic option: Jardin du Luxembourg.

Belleyme – Infrared sauna & cafe

One of the few spas to offer infrared sauna therapy in Paris, Belleyme is a gorgeous new destination in the Marais that offers 50-minute infrared sauna sessions in two chic cabins. You can reserve a session online for one or two people at a time. The session includes time for you to use the in-cabin shower and dressing room after your sauna. You may then also want to stay for a healthy snack in their rose-hued cafe (their staff speaks both French and English), which offers a menu of superfood-infused food and healthy drinks.

Belleyme Paris: 8 rue Charles-François Dupuis 75003 Paris

Maison Alaena – Holistic spa & tea room

Perched on the 8th floor of an unassuming high rise on rue de Paradis, this is one of the best-kept secrets for holistic wellness and beauty in Paris right now. With stunning views of Sacre Cour and the Eiffel Tower, this sanctuary-like space offers sunrise and sunset yoga, massages, face and body treatments, micro-nutrition consultations & hammam sessions. Their tea room menu offers both savory and sweet items that are crafted to be low-glycemic, gluten-free, and dairy-free. Their English and French-speaking team will warmly welcome you, and you can reserve both treatments and tea room bookings online.

Maison Alaena: 32 rue de Paradis 75010 Paris

Gynécée – Wellbeing center for women, by women

In the heart of the 9th arrondissement, Gynécée launched in 2020 as “La maison de la femme,” offering a wide-ranging menu of women’s health services and workshops (in French) in a beautiful home-like environment. Their goal is to follow women from puberty to menopause and beyond, with a particular focus on maternity support.

Gynécée: 62 rue blanche, 75009 Paris

House of Yoga (HOY) – Conscious hotel, yoga studio, spa & restaurant

HOY is a new model of hospitality, one that has yoga as its central pillar. The team here focuses on inspiring wellbeing for both Parisians who are stopping through, as well as visitors from afar. In addition to their consciously crafted rooms, HOY offers a yoga studio (the first dark studio in Paris with infrared light), wellness treatments, and Mesa, a Latin-inspired 100% plant-based restaurant.

HOY: 68 Rue des Martyrs, 75009 Paris

And last but not least, here are some of our favorite Paris restaurants and bakeries to find a healthy meal, one that will leave you feeling nourished and satisfied. Most of these restaurants offer predominantly plant-based menus, with gluten-free options. Paris is no longer a city where it is hard to be a vegetarian or vegan and enjoy delicious restaurant food.

Our Favorite Vegan, Vegetarian & Gluten-Free Paris Restaurants:

Jah Jah by Le Tricycle – Afro-vegan food in the 10th arrondisement

Plan D – Vegan street food, sandwiches & ice cream by Canal-Saint Martin

Sol Semilla – Vegan superfood bowls, soups & drinks by Canal-Saint Martin

Apeti – Plant-based, organic & gluten free cafe in the 6th arrondisement

Sapid – Affordable & plant driven menu by chef Alain Ducasse in the 10th arrondisement

La Guingette d’Angele – Local & gluten free cafés by naturopath Angèle Ferreux-Maeght

Judy Market – Balanced & gluten free food by Luxembourg Gardens

Maisie Cafe – Gluten free & vegan cafe by the Jardin des Tuileries

Noglu – Gluten free bakery & cafe with 2 locations in Paris

Land & Monkeys – 100% vegan bakeries with incredible variety

Bon appétit!

5 Tips to Help Proactively Combat Burnout

Everyone is talking about burnout these days. We are hearing the term at school, at home, at the office, and pretty much everywhere in between. If the summer months provided a much-needed dose of peace, so you could recharge, here are five ways you can keep that beachy sense of chill in mind and body throughout the fall.

Take a break…

Studies show that taking a short break every hour can actually help increase productivity and focus. With many of us still working from home, or working with some kind of hybrid model, don’t forget the importance of breaks even when transitioning back into the office. The break can be as simple as a 30-second stretch, a few deep breaths, or a quick walk around the block. We advocate for some gentle movement to activate your body and mind—it may help with procrastination too!

Zzzzzzz…. Are you sleeping enough?

Are you getting to bed early enough? If not, some great ways to get to bed earlier are to switch off any screens at least an hour before bedtime. Oftentimes, burnout is harder on the body when we are already running a sleep deficit. Another helpful practice is coming up with a bedtime ritual, which could mean some music, a meditation, journaling, or a cup of chamomile tea before you drift off to dreamland. 

Opt for gentler exercise methods.

Sometimes we think that all we need is an intense run, or a cardio class to get our blood pumping, but we’ve found that softer, more fluid forms of exercise benefit the body in the long run. Try looking up tai chi, qi gong, or yin yoga exercises for slower paced forms of movement. It may seem counterintuitive when we just don’t want to sit still, but after some time, these forms of exercise can actually help strengthen your stress response, so you’re better equipped to combat a future wave of burnout. 

Just breathe…

A long deep breath goes a long way. Diaphragmatic breathing exercises, or breathing from the diaphragm, are a great way to help the body process built up or left over stress in the body. Box breathing, which is another form of controlled deep breathing, is also a great way to ensure that you are breathing well. Our breath is the gateway to our health, so next time you’re beginning to feel stressed, take a moment to pause and notice how your body is breathing at the moment. 

Reconnect with the Earth!

This may sound like something a hippie from the 60s would preach, but modern-day science is there to back it up. Time in nature is the perfect medication for a worn out mind and a tired body. Studies have even found that patients with a view of a tree from their hospital window are more likely to recover faster. So whether you prefer the beach, the desert, or the mountains, be sure to schedule some time to reconnect with Mother Nature as often as you can. 

3 Meditations That Can Help Heal Your Burnout

When we are burnt out, it’s normal to want to do nothing. At the peak of burnout, our body finally reaches a point where it simply gives up, or at least wants to. This can manifest as a weakened immune system, procrastination, lethargy, depression, or just having no desire to get out of bed in the mornings. Overcoming burnout from this stage can feel like an impossible task. 

The key in these harder moments is to start with mini moments of self-care, eventually working your way up to longer practices. For example, only a couple minutes of meditation a day can kick start your healing journey. The best part about meditation is you can start with as little a dose (say ten deep breaths), or as long of a dose as you need. 

If the idea of meditating for twenty minutes a day sounds like too much right now, give yourself permission to begin with as little as one minute a day, then you can add another minute each week. When we are really burned out, sometimes sixty seconds of mental energy is all we can start with, but ten weeks later you can eventually work your way up to ten minutes. The best part of it is your body will appreciate the slow progression. 

The key to healing from burnout is to take off the pressure, and to let go of any ideas that you need to heal yourself all of a sudden. When we are burned out our body is often processing months, and sometimes years of exhaustion, so remember to be gentle with yourself.

Here are three short meditation exercises I like to try when I just don’t feel like doing anything:

  1. Morning breathing

As soon as I wake up in the morning, before I touch my phone or do anything else, I lay in bed and I take ten slow deep breaths. I emphasized slow because when you have a busy day or lots to get to it can be easy to just rush these breaths. Deep breathing helps to quell our body’s stress response, and doing so in the morning can set a positive and mindful tone for the rest of our day. This simple practice has become a daily habit for me. 

  1. Midday mindful walk

Sometimes sitting on the meditation cushion can be hard when we are experiencing anxiety or a racing mind. My advice may be contrary to other meditation teachers, but I would say don’t force it—work your way there. Instead try to switch to a movement based mindfulness exercise in times like these. 

Most of us have spent a lot of time behind a screen the past few months, and less time being as active as usual due to different local restrictions and lockdowns. I’ve made it a habit to take an afternoon walk for at least ten minutes around lunch time or a bit later in the afternoon. Taking regular breaks is so important to maintaining our mental health—it also makes us more productive. Mindful walking is relatively simple, it means just focusing on your steps on the ground. Try to really tap into feeling each part of your foot, from the heel, to the sole, to the toe, make contact with the surface. It’s best to take time to do this walk without any distractions like your phone or a phone call so you replenish your mental and emotional energy during this time.

  1. Evening gratitude practice

This is my second meditation practice that happens in bed, so it doesn’t require too much movement or effort when you’re feeling burnt out. The practice involves taking ten mindful and relaxed deep breaths, and then listing three things you are grateful for. This can be people in your life, things that happened in your day, your pet, or pretty much anything. The practice is a short one, but it can work wonders on our state of mind. All the practices shared, but especially this one, can be a great maintenance practice to keep burnout at bay once you’ve recovered.

Remember to be gentle with yourself, and be kind to your body which is doing its best to help you heal every minute of everyday. Happy meditating!

Mend’s Next Chapter

I read somewhere that you are a completely new person every seven years because all of the cells in your body turnover in that time. You are physically not the same person you once were. 

As I get ready to celebrate my 35th birthday next week, I could not relate to this more. That’s just it: I’m not the same person I was when I started Mend seven years ago. The core parts of myself are intact, sure, but wow…how much everything has changed.

When I started the newsletter that became Mend, I was single, in my twenties, and writing from my kitchen table in an apartment in Venice. I was also very heartbroken and determined to make the experience of a breakup less painful for others. 

I was driven by this mission and I had an idea for a newsletter that could help – marrying authentic storytelling around heartbreak and evidence-based advice from experts – and it turns out that idea did help. That weekly newsletter evolved into a blog, then a community, then an app, and eventually, a whole venture-backed company.

In the last couple of years, Mend has changed dramatically. In 2019 we shifted gears and focused on profitability, which allowed us to prioritize the mental health of our users above everything else. In 2020 we launched a major redesign and expanded beyond heartbreak to burnout.

In that time, the seasons of my life also changed. I got married, I became a stepmom and I moved to Paris, where my husband is from. And as summer is about to begin, it feels like the perfect time to share that the seasons are changing at Mend too: I am thrilled to announce that I am passing the CEO reigns to a dear friend and long-time collaborator Sara Shah. 

You may know Sara as the founder and CEO of Mother Yin, and if you do, you can help me congratulate her on the exciting news that Mother Yin will be joining the Mend family. Mother Yin, a holistic platform for women’s wellness, will fold into Mend in the coming months and Sara will continue to drive forward the mission that we are both very passionate about: supporting your journey inward.

As for me, I’ll continue on as Chair of the Board, deeply involved in Mend’s future, but no longer involved in day-to-day operations. This is a big, exciting change for me and Mend, and it’s one I’ve been contemplating for a while.

To be frank, I never thought about leaving my position as CEO until last year. But like it was for many of you, 2020 was a year of reflection, and once Mend weathered the storm of the pandemic I felt for the first time that I was ready for this change. It took me a bit longer to work towards telling my team, and later, our investors. I was nervous but was ultimately met with complete support all around and I don’t take that for granted.

So my next question was: who would I hire?

As I considered and interviewed CEO candidates, I always had Sara in my mind as a blueprint for what I was looking for, but the timing wasn’t right in her life. Luckily, the stars finally aligned this spring. Sara and I have been friends since we met at a Mend event with Maude in 2017 and she’s been a steadfast cheerleader for Mend at every stage of our growth since. She’s even organized and led two Mend Away retreats with me, in Portugal and Spain.

Passing the torch to her feels so natural, as if it was always the plan. Sara’s experience in the mindfulness and wellness spaces positions her perfectly to take on this new role as Mend’s CEO without skipping a beat. The future is bright with Sara at the helm and I couldn’t be more excited to see her ideas come to life.

Growing Mend to this point and seeing it impact the lives of millions of people in every country around the world has been one of the most transformative experiences of my life so far. I hear from many of you that Mend has changed your life, and I always feel like sending back the same thing: “me too!!!”

It’s cheesy but it’s the truth. Starting Mend and meeting all of you changed my life. I became an entrepreneur, and I learned what that actually meant. I made mistakes and celebrated successes. I also met so many close friends along the way. I would not be the person I am today without the experience of starting and growing Mend. It’s been extremely stressful and overwhelmingly fun, often at the same time, and pretty much everything in between. Above all, the work we do has brought so much meaning into my life for the past seven years. Thank you.

I know many of you have been following my personal story since I wrote about leaving Google in 2013, and I’m thankful for your support all these years. My newsletter grew out of that randomly viral Medium article, and without that newsletter, there would be no Mend at all. Writing has been the constant thread throughout my life, and certainly through Mend, and it’s one of the things I will continue to do. If you’d like to keep updated on my next chapter, you can sign up here.

So, what’s next? I’m focused on a smooth transition with Sara over the next several months. I’m excited about my next chapter beyond that, but for now, I’m most looking forward to spending the entire month of August en vacances (“on vacation”). As you may know, the French take the month of August off. My husband is religious about it. As an American running a startup, I have never joined him in this tradition. I don’t begrudge it though. I’ve always just seen it as a cultural difference. 

Not this year. This will be the first August since we met that I’m not inside working while he swims in the sea.

This year I’ll be swimming, too.