Life Balance and Adventure
HOW I BALANCE WORK, LIFE AND ADVENTURE – MOIRA, FOUNDER OF SKIRR
Last weekend I completed a 69km wilderness ride that I had been wanting to do for a long time. It was a ten hour epic including a 4 mile hike your bike section through one of the wildest places in Scotland where hardly anyone has set foot. A few years ago this just simply wouldn’t have been possible for me as I suffered from burnout and spent several months unable to do even the simplest things such as meeting friends for a coffee. Fortunately, I turned my life around and found a much better balance to my work, life and adventure.
‘ADVENTURES HAVE TAKEN ME SKIING IN NORWAY, CLIMBING MOUNTAINS IN SCOTLAND, BIKEPACKING IN HOLLAND AND SURFING IN CORNWALL’
When I think back how my life has changed over the past few years it is quite amazing. I spent almost twenty years working as a senior manager before I finally succumbed to burnout but even prior to that for a good few years I did not have the energy to run on a Friday evening with my friends or climb mountains at the weekend. I am so grateful that I turned my life around and now balance bringing up a family and running my own business with many wonderful adventures and still feel full of energy. My adventures have taken me skiing with the family in Norway, climbing mountains in Scotland, bike packing in Holland, surfing in Cornwall and many more besides. So what can I tell you about how I make sure my work, life and adventure stay in balance? I know there is not one simple answer but for me I made a lot of small changes that all added up to make a big difference overall. In this blog I highlight the things that have made the biggest difference for me and hope they might help you to get your own work, life and adventure balance right.
'MAKE LOOKING AFTER YOURSELF YOUR NUMBER ONE PRIORITY’
I have just completed three years of training to be a Nutritional Therapist which took up a considerable amount of time and stretched my academic brain power. I launched Skirr three months ago and it was in the planning for a while before that. I am also a Mum to two fantastic children who keep me on my toes between music lessons, football training and the local Scout Group which my I my husband organise. I am an active member of the local cycling club and love sociable evening rides and winter indoor spin classes. When I write this down it all sounds like a bit much but I make sure that I get plenty of quality me time, recovery time after intense exercise, I feed myself well, get plenty of sleep and spend a lot of time in the outdoors. I believe that we need to make looking after ourselves our number one priority and I have learnt this lesson the hard way. When I was very stressed at work it contributed to not sleeping well, not eating well, not getting enough exercise and unfortunately it proved to be a viscous circle, hard to break free from and hard to get out of. I was very lucky to have some good friends who were a huge help, a very supportive family, good advice from experts and a powerful desire to go on adventures again. These all helped me to optimise my lifestyle which gradually had a huge impact, not only did I recover and go on a lot of adventures but I actually felt like an energetic teenager again.
5 SUGGESTIONS FOR GETTING YOUR WORK, LIFE AND ADVENTURE BALANCE RIGHT
- Spend your time on activities that fit with your values – Passion and Purpose
- Look after yourself with good food and positive relationships - Nourishment
- Indulge in quiet pleasurable moments - Coorie
- Planning and preparation - Prepare
- Find a new challenge to aim for every year - Challenge
‘TO THRIVE YOU NEED TO ….REALIGN YOUR PASSIONS, EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING AND RESILIENCE’
1. Passion and Purpose
One of the key things is that I now spend most of my time on activities that fit with my personal values. When burnout happened to me I eventually realised that the detachment and exhaustion I felt was because the job I was doing, and the organisation I worked for, was no longer a match with my core personal values and was creating a chronic stressful situation for me. I didn’t realise this initially, but after I took time to understand what had happened, I learnt that in order to thrive you really need to spend as much of your time as possible doing things that align with your personal values which helps realign your passions, emotional well-being and resilience. Now I spend my time on my passions of skincare, nutrition, sport, nature and the environment. Retraining and setting up a new business has not been without its stressors and challenges but they don’t have the same negative impact when you believe in what you are doing.
‘THE BODY BURNS DIFFERENT TYPES OF MACRONUTRIENTS, CARBOHYDRATE AND FATS’
Good food is totally key to me feeling happy and full of energy. I learnt a lot in my three year nutritional therapy journey and I put it all into action along the way. By the time I started the course I had already got back at least 80% of my energy but I just couldn’t seem to get back the last 20% and that last bit was the bit I need to be really adventurous and not just make sure I could keep up with the kids! So I learnt about how energy is created from food in the body and how the right foods can really help support your body make more of it. I learnt how the body burns different types of macronutrients, carbohydrate and fats and how I could optimise this process. I learnt how there is communication not only between the brain and the gut (think butterflies when you get nervous) but also from gut to brain which can affect your moods and energy levels. Whereas I used to rely on caffeine, chocolate and cake to get through meetings and a long commute home, I now make sure I feed myself on nourishing food that is full of nutrients. Not only do I nourish myself with food, I also try to make time to spend quality time with friends. This might be a good chat over coffee or a visit to the cinema, it might be a cycling trip or a walk up a hill. I don’t take it for granted as I’m grateful to have such good friends who helped me through a difficult time and who have similar values to me.
‘TAKING TIME OUT FOR QUIET AND PLEASURABLE ACTIVITIES IN THE OUTDOORS'
Coorie is an old scots word that used to mean to snuggle in or cuddle and now tends to mean taking time out for quiet and pleasurable activities in the outdoors. I love to spend time just sitting in a forest or on the shore, making a fire out of driftwood and cooking sausages on sticks. I like photography and walking in old oak forests, taking a flask of coffee up to a favourite viewpoint and floating in the beautiful but cold sea even when it is raining. For me it is about my senses and taking the time to savour the experience rather than rushing onto the next one. Adventures can include moments of coorie at the end of a day when you are sitting round the campfire or when you have a dip in a cool river or find a tree to rest up beside. For me I like to have these moments every week and my favourite is a cold water swim at my local beach followed by a flask of hot chocolate. I think it is important for your brain to have down time and to experience what I think of as a sense of grounding, allowing my mind to rest and for me to consciously experience my body and environment together.
‘ WE TEND TO LIVE BY GEAR LISTS… AND WE HAVE A SCHEDULE TO GET UP AND OUT’
To fit a lot into life needs organisation and I must admit this does not necessarily come easily to me. I do organise my work well and make sure I review what my key priorities are every day. What I don’t do as well is planing for non-work related activities but I am learning to get better at this. I’m often tempted just to see what happens at a weekend but when I let that temptation take over it often ends without very much happening at all! So now I try to have priorities for the week for my social life, exercise and meditation. I then plan a little bit further ahead for adventures with a rough plan of what to do, waiting for the right weather window and seeing who might be up for coming along. Our family adventures tend to be along these lines too, just now we are planning a bike packing trip, potential surfing trips, a couple of mountains we want to climb and a wild camp. With all the uncertainty of lock down we have not totally worked out where and when we will be doing this, but we are getting organised; considering routes, checking our equipment and discussing wet weather options. We tend to live by gear lists to make sure we don’t leave anything key behind, we lay everything out the night before, we have a schedule to get up and out of the house in the morning and we make sure we know what breakfast we are having and what food we are taking with us. There are still the odd stressful moments packing for four of us and discovering someone ate the planned snacks yesterday or that the kids forgot to tell us their bike gears weren’t working properly, but all in all it really helps the day go smoothly.
‘A CHALLENGE MINDSET HAS LONG BEEN ASSOCIATED WITH IMPROVED SPORTS PERFORMANCE'
A challenge mindset has long been associated with improved sports performance. I believe that you can transfer that mindset to other areas of your life and that it is good to always have your next challenge in mind. Every year I try to plan ahead for a new adventure for myself and one for the family. Last year my challenge was to complete the Loch Ness Etape which I have mentioned in a previous blog, six months previous to the event I had never been on a road bike, let along ridden in a group of several thousand to complete a 100km challenge. But having paid for the event and told other people about it, I felt I sense of challenge and determination to complete it. Afterwards I was immediately looking for another challenge and so I signed up to do the Dunoon Dirt Dash, a self-sufficient over night reliability trial which proved equally challenging, and since it included a very steep hike your bike section, turned out to be oen of the biggest physical challenges I have ever completed. This year I had plans but they are currently on hold, so although it wasn’t planned that far in advance, when I set out on the epic wilderness ride last weekend it was very definitely a challenge that had been at the back of my mind for quite a while.
Thinking back on the change in me from five years ago I am determined to ensure that I keep a balance to my work, life and adventure, to stay healthy, keep active and continuing to have amazing experiences. I continue to make sure I stick to my passions and purpose for my main life activities, eat well, take time out for quiet moments of pleasure, spend time with family and friends, plan ahead to fit a lot in and focus on the important things, last but not least setting myself new challenges. Now that I have completed my epic wilderness ride I am looking for my next adventure challenge. Over the next few weeks there will definitely be some family adventures and I’m planning something a little bit special for the Autumn. I’ll have to tell you about it in another blog! For now you can check out our blog on Active Adventure Holidays in Argyll and Getting Started Road Cycling.
If this is the first time you have heard about our brand ‘Skirr’ let me tell you that we are a sustainable sport skincare brand and very proud of our eco-credentials. We believe we make the best eco-friendly anti-chafing sport body balm and eco-friendly soap. We use natural and organic ingredients and package our products in recycled cardboard and vegware compostable paper.