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. 

Right now, wellness means prioritising sleep by getting 7-9 hours per night, and making decisions that I know are going to make me feel good. This goes across nutrition, socialising and my own training.”

Fitness has always been a part of Dwayne Rowsell’s lifestyle. A Black Sticks Men’s Hockey player and the founder of Auckland boxing centre Studio Box, Dwayne has honed an ability to juggle multiple priorities at once, fitting morning and evening training sessions around education and full time employment. 

The seed for the creation of  Studio Box was planted outside Dwayne’s years with the NZ Hockey team, which he initially played for from ages 18 to 23. “I realised how powerful and important exercise is for your mental wellbeing, not just the physical,” he says. “When I started boxing, I immediately fell in love with the full-body workout it provides. Every session requires you to be totally present and challenges you physically in different ways, and the mental strength, confidence and sense of calm it provided me was second to none.”

Feeling inspired to share these results with people in a welcoming and non-intimidating way, plus knowing what it took to train at a professional level, Dwayne knew Studio Box was an idea he had to execute.

His perception of the wellness is constantly evolving, but right now he says it’s about prioritising sleep by getting 7-9 hours per night, and making decisions he knows are going to make him feel good. “This goes across nutrition, socialising and my own training,” he says. “I’ve got a busy mind and can be quite the perfection seeker so wellness is also finding stillness and being happy with where I’m at today.”

“I realised I was ‘doing’ not ‘being’.”

Having recently suffered a concussion while playing hockey, Dwayne has been focusing on recovery and Hana’s red light therapy pod has been a vital part of this process. 

“Studies have shown that near-infrared and red light applied to the brain through the skull have numerous positive effects,” says Hana founder Sara Higgins, “including increased cerebral blood flow, oxygen availability and consumption, energy production, neuroprotection and brain repair.”

“I’ve had six sessions and it’s helped with my recovery immensely,” says Dwayne, who also can’t speak highly enough of the infrared sauna. “I’ve fallen in love with it! 40 minutes in there just leaves me feeling so relaxed and calm, any anxiety I was carrying is gone. I would also have to say my skin complexion has improved.” 

The private room and shower feels like a sanctuary away from the world, he enthuses, a welcome feeling of escape from the frenetic pace of his day-to-day life.

The benefits also last beyond the time spent sitting in the sauna, with Dwayne usually sleeping incredibly well after a session. “I wear a strap on my wrist called Whoop which tracks my HR and HRV daily. Each night I get my sleep stats and after an infrared sauna I clearly get at least 10 percent more REM & deep sleep.”

Currently, Dwayne is enjoying learning how to sit with his own thoughts and manage anxiety from a self-imposed pressure to perform, something many of us struggle with. He started working with life coach Frances Wills last year, spurring a galvanising process of self-examination. 

“I realised I was ‘doing’ and not ‘being’ — I was afraid of stopping because I had become so conditioned to living in my head and not my heart,” he says. Being conscious of this tendency, among other things, Dwayne has found a joy in the process. “I’m still working on it, but that’s one of the beautiful things you learn when you take a deep dive inside yourself, you accept yourself and gain understanding that there isn’t an end point.”

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