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Evason Ana Mandara
United Arab Emirates
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Every night before we go to bed, we make a deliberate effort to plug in our technology so when we wake up our devices are fully charged to take on the day with full productivity. How often can we say the same for ourselves? How often do you think about your own body and mind being a battery and the things you need to reconnect and recharge for everyday wellness?
To recharge our batteries, we need to look at creating time to reconnect to self, others and nature and more specifically, creating a daily rhythm that combines specific tools and activities that support and recharge our batteries each day so we can thrive sustainably.
Wellness expert, corporate coach, and creator of the GreenX7 app, Tim Jack Adams, talked with Wellness Pioneer Anna Bjurstam about what he’s learned about the best ways to charge our batteries.
(lightly edited for clarity)
Anna: How did you get into wellness?
Tim: Wellness was something that I thought only happened in spas. I grew up in a family of boys that was very rough and tumble, playing football and boxing. Wellness and well-being never entered my mind. My background was in watersports.
I started a company called Water Sports Guru and I was sitting on a creek hiring out paddleboards.
I started to wonder what it was that made people so happy and healthy when they spent time in nature. This one question literally sent me on a five-year journey to research the answer. I connected with researchers and academics all around the world and learned about the power of active engagement with nature or green exercise. I started to dig deeper into that and understanding that when we get out in nature, it’s so good for our physical, mental, spiritual selves. This journey got me thinking about wellness. And then something happened which made me understand how important wellness really was.
I used to work with a skipper named Mel and almost every day, we’d go out snorkeling and I thought we had the greatest life. One day, I got a call that Mel had taken his own life. At that moment I started to take wellness seriously because I wondered how someone who seemed so happy every day could take his own life. I had brothers and friends going through rough times and I didn’t understand the mask that men can wear until then. This started a whole other journey about what it is that makes us happy, healthy and connected, especially with guys. Before all of this, I thought wellness was going to a spa but after this, I realized it was taking care of yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically and it was not a luxury but a necessity.
Anna: How do you define wellness now?
Tim: Wellness now is literally the deliberate effort to look after yourself. It’s the deliberate effort to get there. We talk about mindfulness, nutrition, exercise but the truth is that we have to do these things to get there. My goal is to make it accessible especially here in Australia where wellness is fluffy girl stuff. I’m trying to get guys to do it as preventative practice. We put so much money into problems once they’ve manifested but I’m trying to get people to do wellness before they get sick.
Anna: It’s become more important than ever that people take care of themselves, especially their immune systems, and I find that people can find it overwhelming. Where do you start? What’s the first door to enter the world of wellness?
Tim: I think awareness is the most important first step. Before I started this journey, I had no idea why I was happy or sad or angry because everything was white noise in my head. I didn’t understand what was making my life happy or unhappy at any moment. When Mel took his life, I started to look at the eight areas of our lives that make a difference. I started with sleep which is foundational to feeling good and then movement. Then, eating healthier, not just what it tasted like but how it made me feel. Then, I looked at mindset and did I have an attitude of gratitude. Then I looked at fun and how sometimes I felt so guilty about having fun because I had so many responsibilities.
Anna: Why do we feel so guilty about having fun?
Tim: I’m not sure. The other day I was at the water with a good friend and it was a beautiful day. I asked him, are you going for a swim today and he said no, he had too much to do. We both were there with our forlorn faces feeling like we couldn’t do that because we had meetings and other work to do but we could have squeezed it in, and we would have increased our wellness quotient by doing it.
Anna: Have you seen any way to change that?
Tim: There’s a great book called The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying which was written by a palliative nurse who had great conversations with people at the end of their lives. The number one regret of the dying was that they wished they lived a life true to themselves and not the one others expected of them. I think this is such a big issue. So many of us are living based on others’ expectations whether that’s our parents or from society or all the advertising around us. One of the reasons I love getting into nature is because you truly understand what it is that makes your heart sing. You discover the things you know you need to do for yourself and not for everyone else. I get out of my head and into my heart and understand what is truly important to me as well as what it is to be happy and kind. Nature helps us get very clear about our values.
Anna: You support people in finding values in themselves for who they are and not what they do. This is so important because we often identify ourselves with our work instead of just being. How do you help people do that?
Tim: Purpose is so massive. When Mel took his life and I looked at my friends, I wanted a way to measure their well-being so I made an app called GreenX7. In the app, we give people a way to measure the eight most important areas of their lives. When you use the app, you get a “battery rating” and it’s a really simple way to get a snapshot of your well-being level. The app also makes recommendations so if you’re low in fun or social connection, there are ideas for how to add more of that quality in your life to charge your battery. The other day, I was super low in fun and friendship so I knew I needed to organize a surf with my mates to improve that part of my battery. This way, wellness doesn’t need to be a guessing game.
Anna: The app does give you a way to self-reflect on the important aspects of your life and it’s also important to use as a conversation piece among friends and family.
Tim: The app does have a social component so I can also check in on how my mates are doing and if someone is getting low in an area, I can reach out and see if I can help. I think women are much better at doing this kind of check-in naturally and talking about these key life areas.
Anna: Women are really good at talking but we also can be really caught up with what other people think. We have different types of problems than men, but we also have problems being honest about the good, bad and ugly. Also, nowadays, a lot of people don’t have close connections to open up to and have these conversations. You work with companies as well, tell us about that.
Tim: We do a lot of work for corporations. Often when people talk about well-being at work, they talk about gym memberships, but I don’t think people understand the importance of positive human connection, especially at work.
I was terrible at listening because I didn’t know how to connect with people. I was a good communicator and speaker but not a great connector. When I work with a company, I look at it overall, but I really dive into creating positive human connections. According to one of the longest studies on adult development at Harvard, the warmth of relationship gives our lives the greatest satisfaction. Warmth is something we can create in small moments every day between our colleagues and that improves culture. Loneliness is the fastest-growing epidemic so we have to educate people on the importance of connection.
Anna: I read a study that said that people with the most connections, both the quality and quantity of connections can live up to 50 percent longer than lonely people. Perhaps when we’re looking at wellness and things like nutrition, maybe that’s not where we start. Maybe we need to start with one connection per day. Is it a connection that’s the most important thing?
Tim: I realize after all these years, the connection is at the heart of it. When we look at the battery concept, the higher your battery, the more open you are to connecting. I know when my battery is lower, I don’t put myself out there as much so what we’re looking at now is the research behind our battery and how that correlates with value, meaning and belonging. I know that when I’m taking care of myself and my battery is thriving, everyone else around me will thrive.
Anna: My final question is what are the five things you do every day to keep well?
Tim: I roll it all into one activity each morning. I am an early bird so I get to the office at 4:30 am and I’ll do some stretching and meditation and then get on the computer. Then, later in the morning, my wife will come to the office with our dogs and we leave all devices behind and drive to the beach. We take a 30-minute walk on the sand with no shoes. Then, we go to the local coffee shop and connect with our community. This way, I’ve combined all the important things in my life into one activity. I know when I hit the pillow at night, I’ve done what I need to do to recharge my battery.
Anna: It’s so important to start the day on the right foot by getting out into nature and by downloading your GreenX7 app!
Tim Jack Adams is a wellness thought leader, keynote speaker, and founder of GreenX7 which has created an overarching framework and methodology to measure and improve wellbeing; highlighting that reconnecting to self, others and nature is key to thriving sustainably.