For many, the pandemic served as an opportunity to start a new dialogue and introduce a new perspective on the topic of anxiety. Once taboo and deemed something too personal or vulnerable to share, anxiety is now an issue that is more openly discussed and encouraged to be shared, particularly the ways that have worked for overcoming it. For Nathalie Pfaff, the past year has been one of incredible introspection, where she learned to make self-care not just a priority but a passion. Nathalie’s story is deeply personal and one that many will be able to relate to in one way or another.   

The dark side of the pandemic is one that hit close to home for Nathalie. Brazil was hit particularly hard by COVID-19, and her brother-in-law, a doctor working as a government health official, was coming face to face with the enormity and gravity of the situation and sharing the realities he was witnessing daily. In addition, as the mother of two young children – ages 5 and 7 – Nathalie had to find ways to juggle working remotely with homeschooling.  

The circumstances were dire and there were times when it was hard to maintain a positive outlook. She carried the worry of her family’s wellbeing, including her own, while also trying to keep focused on her work in sales, which was facing its own set of challenges caused by the pandemic and the crucial role that technology had for so many organizations. It was then that Nathalie resorted to new methods – which then turned to a passion – of coping with her anxiety, opening space for introspection and self-care in both her work and personal life, and helping her to find the balance she was so much looking for.  

A few years prior to joining Microsoft, Nathalie felt like she hit a wall. A self-declared workaholic, unable to establish a healthy work/life balance for herself, she decided to take a yearlong sabbatical travelling with her husband and kids to gain clarity and determine exactly what it was she wanted to do with her and her family life. During that time, she enrolled in an online mentorship program, which proved to be incredibly rewarding and insightful. She acquired the tools she had been seeking in her journey of self-discovery and made a meaningful connection with her instructor, a Brazilian woman now living in Thailand. Amidst everything the pandemic brought up to Nathalie, she decided to reconnect with her instructor, and it was then that Nathalie was introduced to transpersonal holistic therapy, which has become the answer for her and also the path for self-care.  

Transpersonal holistic therapy integrates traditional spiritual rituals into modern psychology and emphasizes positive influences and role models rather than concentrating on negative experiences. With her coach, Nathalie works on everything from breathing exercises to lessons in mindfulness, where she can find the focus that helps her take control of her anxiety and perform better in her life. The practice has also allowed her to discover other joys and pastimes, like painting.  

At Microsoft, she is part of a select team of sales specialists spearheading a new set of services, enabling customers to accelerate their ability to deliver Hybrid Work. Understanding the different elements that contribute to the hybrid work model has given a broader view of her work and its impact, particularly the balancing act between personal and professional worlds, and how it helps customers. Therapy has given her a new appreciation for the different ways she can make her own well-being a priority as well as collaboration, and “find balance that takes me to a place where I thrive today.” 

Nathalie Pfaff is a Hybrid Work Global Black Belt based in São Paulo, Brazil.