Wellness: What does it mean to you?

While the term itself is oversaturated, the exploration of how we define ‘being well’ for ourselves is more important than ever. It’s personal, but it doesn’t need to be preachy or complicated. Health and wellness can be nurtured in any aspect of our lives, from the physical to the mental, emotional, spiritual and financial. Any of these pillars, when examined and cared for, can contribute to a richer and more enjoyable existence. In this series, we share the stories, challenges and discoveries of a diverse range of people who each have a unique perspective on health and wellbeing, and how these pillars manifest in their lives.

Wellness to me in this season is about focusing on the foundation so I can show up and perform to the best of my abilities, and contribute towards changing the world for the better.”

When we are well, with no ailments, aches or pains to speak of, many of us tend to take our health for granted. It is the unfortunate nature of living in a healthy body that, rather than wake up every day filled with gratitude for the effective function of our cells, our limbs and organs, we can tend to focus on external things like our appearance, berating our strong, faithful bodies for their perceived “flaws”.

Being well is likely not something Georgia Robertson will take for granted again. An ex-corporate lawyer, Georgia is now CEO of Humanitix, an award-winning tech-charity backed by Google and Atlassian, transforming event booking fees into education funding, such as girls’ literacy programs.

Having had a lifelong interest in health from training for and playing competitive sport, Georgia has always loved the outdoors, living an active lifestyle and staying in shape. She was prompted to delve deeper into wellness than just a fitness aspect when addressing fatigue and burnout, an all-too-common occurrence in modern times. 

“Essentially, my glands were persistently up and my body’s check engine light was raring, stuck in perpetual fight or flight,” says Georgia.

For the CEO, her personal state of wellness is an important part of the change she wants to affect in the world. “Wellness to me in this season is about focusing on the foundation so I can show up and perform to the best of my abilities, and contribute towards changing the world for the better,” she says. “That includes being discerning with my energy and reducing my overall body load. I’ve been getting right back to basics, and building up from there. It’s a delicate dance between being kind to ourselves and knowing when to flex the personal discipline muscle.”

Earlier this year, Georgia was shown the importance of listening to her body’s warning signs when, at the end of the first lockdown, she was diagnosed with follicular non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of incurable blood cancer in the lymph nodes that make up our immune systems. 

“I was given a choice: watch, wait and let my cancer make the first move, or take aggressive action against it now to give myself the opportunity to heal in the long term.”

A cancer diagnosis is, understandably, fraught with anxiety, involving a large amount of wait time between tests, appointments, results and treatments. Georgia has been managing undergoing treatments like IVF, radiotherapy, gastroenterology work and has just started targeted chemotherapy, drawing on mental and emotional resilience garnered from her time charing the Board of Youthline CSI.

“Youthline operates from a counselling model about supporting young people to make choices that feel right to them and I’ve applied that directly to my case for myself,” she explains. “Each day I work at cultivating a mindset where I keep living for my most full, splendid and well life without allowing my decisions to be dictated by fear.”

I choose to make decisions based on possibility and not fear. What would you do if you weren’t afraid? How would you be in the world if you weren’t afraid?

Georgia started frequenting Hana the day the doors opened, and almost the day she received her diagnosis. “I walked in the doors seeking sanctuary to process all this overwhelming news.”

With the seal of approval from her medical team, which includes a haematologist, radiation oncologist, frontline GP, integrative medicine-practising GP, psychologist, dietician and gastroenterologist, Georgia says the infrared sauna has been an essential part of her healing process with myriad benefits. With its detoxing properties helping her body detox during radiotherapy, the sauna also helps to increase blood oxygenation, supporting cell regeneration.

“It’s also about boosting my immune system and nurturing my body to heal itself, bringing my number of natural killer cells back into equilibrium.”

The sauna also helps Georgia move forward through treatments, and manage the resulting muscular aches and pains. Managing a growing business at the same time as a cancer diagnosis requires strategic compartmentalising, she says. Hana provides space for her body to heal, but also her mind to diffuse the intensity of the experience. “I adore the ritual of going into this warm nurturing environment with the friendliest professionals who genuinely care about supporting your health journey and letting the day wash off. I love to finish with some hot-colds to really stimulate the vagus nerve and down-regulate my parasympathetic nervous system.”

Georgia has learned some raw lessons since her diagnosis, both on a personal level and on what it means for her goals for contributing to the world. “Chief is that my body is both my home and the vessel enabling me to contribute towards our vision for levelling the global playing field in education. Health at this level is a privilege, and learning to honour my home by becoming attuned to what it needs is the most productive thing I can do.”

Arguably vital in the fight for her health is her natural state as an eternal optimist. “Even though I’ve been dealt some challenging cards recently, I can reshuffle the deck by deciding how I respond. I choose to make decisions based on possibility and not fear. What would you do if you weren’t afraid? How would you be in the world if you weren’t afraid?”

And if all else fails, says Georgia, open up Spotify, search Eminem and put on Till I Collapse and let him do the rest.

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