Nick is a 32-year old Kiwi from Cambridge. He grew up the middle of 3 children in a NZ/European family with strong connections to England, where his mother was born. A cricket lover through and through, Nick worked as a roofer after high school, before enrolling to study Architectural Technology at Wintec’s Hamilton campus. After some time travelling abroad, he returned to New Zealand and began work as an Architectural Designer. Nick now works as Managing Director of Ink Architectural Design Ltd from its offices in Cambridge, where he lives with his partner, Sade.

I think about wellness as doing simple things to look after myself. It’s about eating well, exercising, keeping a good social life and family life, and avoiding too much alcohol. It’s stuff that gets said a million times, although I think it’s all easier said than done. It takes a lot of maturity to really commit to doing everything necessary for wellness. It definitely did when I first started. It took a lot of energy every day.

I remember how hard I worked to stay on track with my exercise program and my meditation, and wondering if I’d always have to keep doing this stuff. Over time it became easier and I got used to it, and it’s all now part of what I do regularly. I now think of doing things for my wellness as just like eating healthy food - you wouldn’t eat veges once and then expect to stay healthy for the rest of your life. It has to be every day.

I’m totally on-board with that idea. I’ll probably be exercising regularly for the rest of my life, as well as eating good food and keeping connected with my friends and family. And that’s great. There’s nothing better than setting aside a special time in the day to do things you want to do.

I know that every day there’ll be a little portion of time where I can say, “OK - this is Nick’s time now”. I can exercise, meditate or read. If I’m lucky enough to make it to 70 years old and my body is still working, maybe I’ll become one of those people you see doing Aquarobics classes at the community pool. How good that would be! I’ll be up for that. Because whatever happens, at least I’ll still be healthy!

Running is my favourite kind of exercise. I’m usually out running in Cambridge two or three nights a week. If I finish the work day tense or a bit angry or whatever, a jog usually sets things right.

Meditating is probably the one area where my approach to wellness strays from the usual path a little bit. I’ve found it to be a really great tool for me. I can’t emphasise enough how much meditation benefits me. I keep a folder on my phone with all my content and apps for guided meditations. Over the months I’ve dabbled with a lot of different apps and there are all sorts of good ones. The one I mostly use now is called Headspace. It has pre-recorded meditation sessions for a whole bunch of different situations. You can do sessions on relaxation, goal-setting, sleep, relationships, increasing your energy levels, preparing for a meeting… anything really.

I’ve done about 23 hours of guided meditation so far according to the app - so not a massive amount, but it’s enough that I get a feel for how beneficial it can be. I tend to be a bit of a worrier sometimes and an over-thinker. It’s an interesting approach when you’re running your own business! Often, at work, as soon as I hear some bad news on the phone or read a bad email, my mind will go off onto all sorts of worst-case scenarios - catastrophising about how the Council will react, and picturing myself standing there in front of the judge for having made a little mistake on a building plan. It’s obviously really unnecessary, and mediation helps me keep control over it and keep things in perspective. 95% of what I worry about never materialises.

There’s an awesome moment I remember which happened a few weeks after I started meditating properly. I was beginning to develop more mental control, and it seemed to come around one day. Knowing how I had been in the past, I remember thinking, “Far out - I am so headstrong. I know where my head needs to be now.” When the rocks fell down, they were no longer squashing me, they were falling around me. Meditation taught me that the mind is a powerful thing and that I can control it.

When I go on trips overseas and experience new places, I am naturally mindful of everything I see. It could be that I notice the landscape and think, “wow, those hills look amazing” or that the colours of the leaves are really beautiful. The awesome thing about meditation is that it’s helped me to see things like that here at home too. Before, I would’ve just taken things for granted, but through meditation I’ve learnt to take in more of the good things that are here in my everyday life.

It’s just about simply experiencing life - even if just for 2 minutes in the day - and to not always be going flat out. Like thinking about the taste of the water as I’m drinking it, or going to brush my teeth and thinking about the feeling of the bristles against my teeth.

A key thing for keeping me balanced and happy is talking openly with people. If I’m snowed under with clients and everything at work, talking things over with my partner or my parents balances me out and makes everything okay. It’s about having someone remind me that I’m human. Without that, I think I’d try to take on so much responsibility and try to do everything so perfectly that I’d get overwhelmed. My partner is awesome like that. She’s really pragmatic and keeps my feet on the ground.

My mates are all pretty open to talking these days too which is great. It wasn’t like that a few years ago, but we’ve had a few mates go through their own struggles so we’ve all become a lot more supportive and open to talking now. We can go for a round of golf to have a few beers and a laugh, or we can go for a round of golf if we want to have a talk as well.

My family is the other really solid part of my support network. My Mum and Dad live here in Cambridge too, and my sister is in Sydney with her husband. We’re all really close. And we’ve all grown together and learnt to support each other pretty well over the years.

Mum and Dad’s place is on a lifestyle block just out of town, where I keep some beehives. If it’s a sunny summer afternoon, especially if it’s been a big day at work, I’ll often head out there to check my bees for a bit of R&R. I find it quite therapeutic. I love to arrive there, see Mum and Dad, and then go put the suit on, get the smoker out and go through that process. It’s nice to smell all the smells, and then walk out to the hives to hear thousands of bees buzzing around. It’s so cool to watch them work, and see the progress they’re making as they fly into the hives with pollen all over their back legs. It’s like music.

Watching my alcohol intake is a big part of the wellness recipe for me. I love to have a few beers and I always will, but I like to keep a handle on things. I don’t like the feeling of waking up hungover and writing off my Sunday. It sets me up for a bad week and just feels gross. That said, it’s sometimes still worth it to have a big night if we have something to celebrate. The real difference between now and a few years ago though, is my awareness of all the flow-on effects. If I keep a lid on it, I’ll feel better the next day, so I’ll eat better food and do something constructive with my day, and then start the week on Monday feeling on top of things.

If it was possible to send a note back to yourself when you needed the most help, what would you write?

Nick experienced depression between the ages of 16 and 20.

How you felt as a result?
Total loss of energy and motivation
Not in control of my thoughts

Did you take prescribed medication?

Were there any triggers that exacerbated your feelings?

Was there a turning point when things started to get better?
Yes. I had a plane ticket booked to go visit my brother in England, but the idea of leaving my comfort zone while I was experiencing depression seemed really scary.

I wanted so badly to be able to go over there, visit my brother and live the life I wanted to live. I think that was the real key for me.

I gave myself an ultimatum and a deadline to get well. 
I said to myself, “Right, let’s get real and do this. Whatever it takes.” I figured I’d better completely stop drinking because it probably wasn’t very good for me, I implemented an exercise program and a meditation program, and really committed myself to completing everything properly. By the time I got on the plane, I knew I had more control over my own mind, and felt that I had matured quite a bit.


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