Part 2 of my Monday Wellness Series; watch out for new editions in the coming weeks.
The idea for this series came when I was preparing for my yoga teacher training—or Yoga School as I’ve started calling it. You might remember me talking about this big goal of mine in last week’s blog post. Yoga School means that I dedicate at least two weekends each month—until September—to 11 hours a day of yoga, meditation and study (go ahead and quiz me on the bones of the foot!). It was important to me that my work week reflects the goals I’m setting at Yoga School, so I started thinking about how I could translate what I’m learning into healthy behaviours at work. Having met a lot of cool candidates during my time with Madison, I knew they’d have the best advice for me when it came to managing work in a healthy way.
I met my next interviewee for this edition of Monday Wellness a little over a year ago, when I placed him in a job with Office Max. Muni Goundar started as a phone-based Account Manager, which is a big role in itself. Then I heard about his promotion and I knew he’d be the right person to talk to about balancing a massive schedule, a busy personal life and staying well. In his role as National Paper Specialist for Office Max, Muni has a lot of exciting responsibilities, travels across the length of the country on a regular basis, and reports directly to the General Managers. In addition to a high-pressure work environment, Muni pushes himself to keep moving, be mindful and get out in the community with team sports.
Muni had a couple of very interesting insights into managing a busy work life, while staying healthy.
1. Get mindful.
Muni told me that he’s taken up yoga, which for him is another movement practice that compliments his 10k runs, soccer, basketball and boxing (told you he’s a busy guy!). While mindfulness and yoga go hand in hand, you don’t have to get bendy to get mindful. For Muni, mindfulness also happens outside on a short walk with co-workers. He said their team culture encourages popping out for a stroll around the block and that that time in nature helps him re-connect with the here and now. According to HuffPost, being outside requires you to just be without doing, which is calming.
Getting outside is something my team and I have committed to this year. As the weather gets generally more grey and gross, it can be hard to persuade ourselves to leave the building but we try to take our meetings to the courtyard, or at the very least a coffee shop. We’ve found that new locations can prompt different conversations and more creativity.
2. Stay flexible (with exercise, and food)
Muni lives by his calendar. With a schedule that might involve three days in Tauranga followed by a flight to the South Island, he has to schedule his time—not just so he can make flights, but so he can fit in his workout schedule. When we spoke, he was on day 56 of a continuous workout streak! Muni explained that he had to schedule in his exercise around his day, but that if he thought of himself as only ‘a runner’ or ‘a soccer player’, or someone who works out in the morning, he wouldn’t have managed to achieve this impressive streak of continuous exercise. He recently picked up boxing and yoga to round out his already long list of activities, but instead of making him busier, those new outlets gave him flexibility and meant he was more likely to make a class, than if he was rigid in what counts as exercise. One of the things I’ve always found hard when travelling is eating well, so I was looking forward to hearing what Muni does while he is on the road. How do you find the healthy stuff, when you’re in a new city? Muni also suggested that I be flexible in this situation. He said he’s happy to buy food wherever he is and loves trying out a new place, but he aims to prepare his own healthy food when at home. It’s that classic 80/20 balance.
I’ve decided to use Muni’s suggestion to adopt a flexible mindset around exercising. I’m a very slow, very whiny runner, but when I miss a yoga class and need a quick workout and some time outside, I’ll remind myself that a slow jog is better than not doing any exercise, or than staying inside. I know that not everyone has a workplace with the flexibility to get to a lunchtime class, or start later in the day so you can make early morning Pilates. But I guarantee that if you have a flexible mindset about what constitutes ‘exercise’ then it’s possible to build up your own activity levels.
On paper Muni’s schedule seems punishing; a long list of activities in addition to a high-pressure job travelling the country. However, what I learned from him is that staying in the moment with mindfulness, and having some flexibility around what I consider exercise and healthy food, will go a long way towards staying relaxed during busy periods.
My goal for this coming week: I’m going to try to be kind to myself. I’ll be taking my meetings outside, and telling myself it’s ok if I didn’t prep my quinoa-tempeh-spinach salad the night before because I didn’t have time!