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natalya’s daily caravan routine

how to fit wellness into your crazy busy work days

 

Can you tell us about your journey and where you are today?

I started my career doing reservoir simulation for Exxon, Chevron, and then Bass Brothers. I’ve done some research for an energy investment bank and planned to exit to the buy side, but got lured by the siren call of the startup land. Moved to New York about a year ago, something I always wanted to do, and trying to make the most of life.

What is your experience with wellness?

Well, most people don’t really start thinking about wellness until they have to. I’ve taken on a lot of stress, much of which wasn’t even my burden to carry, and it naturally took a toll on my body. I credit my time in banking with recalibrating my approach to wellness and health, especially mental health. When you work 100-hour weeks and your physical gas tank is regularly on low, you get a different appreciation for the individual toll of each small thing that you let slide or that normally would stay under the radar. Running a startup has made it even more critical to put a largely self-sustaining system in place for taking care of myself.

How do you fit wellness into your morning routine? your work life? your nightly rituals?

At night, I turn off wi-fi and cellar data, and turn on the Do Not Disturb mode about an hour before I go to sleep, that way as I’m winding down for bed, I don’t get get the urge to respond to that one last email or text, and there are no buzzes or dings waking me up in the middle of the night. I started sleeping better and not feeling like a zombie in the mornings, even if I stayed up late the night before.

 

“I’ve given up on work-life balance and decided to have work-life boundaries instead.”

 

In the mornings I make a point to walk to work and add something small but meaningful to my commute – usually breathing exercises or a meditation, and to me a meditation is mainly gathering my thoughts and setting my intentions for the day, although I started working on developing my “dispassioned observer mode” lately. I like the meditation section on CARAVAN because it’s largely agnostic and offers many choices. Classic “sit still and don’t think about anything” meditation doesn’t work for me, because I quickly get bored and restless. I commend people who can do it, but I need something a little more engaging for me to have a chance to stick with it long enough to derive any meaning or value.

 

On days I set as gym days, I come to the gym first (it’s close to work), then I open my email etc. Sometimes I’ll sit in the locker room for an hour responding to the flurry of messages, but once I get a lull, I’m already there in my workout clothes, ready to hit the weights, even if only for 20-30 minutes. Stress catabolizes muscle, so I always make sure to include some form of strength training in my day, even on the off-gym days. I am very particular to body weight exercises, because they are a great opportunity to fine tune your form. 

 

How has incorporating wellness into you daily routine improved your lifestyle?

The big improvement has been in my overall enjoyment of life. For the longest time there’s been this pressure on entrepreneurs to always project positivity, and it is still there to an extent, but thankfully the community at large is starting to recognize the toll that entrepreneurship takes on mental health, and opening up to doing something about it. An unpopular view from the background of “Yes We Can” and “Lean In”, but having to appear positive and “on” when you are already drained is not just hard, it’s toxic. 

 

“Finding ways to consistently prioritize myself through wellness rituals made it easier for me to enforce boundaries with myself and others, and not exhaust myself until I am so drained, that the cost of drumming up positivity is sky-high.”

 

I love that the Positivity Section on CARAVAN has videos like “How to Fight Right” and “Learn to Say No”. That, to me, is the foundation of *authentic* positivity.

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