How Mike Mahon Stays Well at U of L
President & Vice Chancellor
What does Wellness mean to you?
Wellness means having a well-rounded way of living both physically (food, sleep, exercise) and socially. It’s important to have a positive social experience at work and home and to feel connected with the community.
Spirituality is also an important part of wellness and means different things to different people. Whether it’s organized religion or yoga for example, being able to step outside the frenetic day to day and find a quiet mental space is important.
What physical activities do you do to stay well?
I stay active all year long. In the summer I kayak, stand up paddle board, golf, hike, and cycle and in the winter I like to cross country ski.
I also walk and workout at the gym doing cardio and weights.
I wear a Fitbit to track my daily steps and it’s funny because my wife and I are a little bit competitive about our daily steps. I have a very active family and we are good influences on each other, parents to kids and vice versa.
What mental activities do you do to stay well?
That’s one of my weaker areas of wellness. I’ve tried yoga and liked it but I have a hard time going regularly because of my busy schedule. I’ll go into my basement and stretch and do a little yoga when I need quiet time. I’ve tried meditation and I’m mindful of the fact that I need to be better, but overall this could use some improvement.
The most common reason people give for not being active is that they don’t have the time. As a senior leader you have a very busy schedule- how do make the time for wellness activities?
For almost 15 years now I have put physical activity into my schedule. I almost always have a 1.5 hour block in my daily schedule for exercise. The time moves around based on what I have going on that day, but I try to avoid scheduling it later in the day because if I book in the morning or mid-day I’m really good at staying with it.
I’m not kidding, my assistant knows to not schedule meetings in my physical activity block (unless it’s really important) and I find this works really well for me.
I’m fortunate because I enjoy physical activity so it doesn’t feel like a chore. I advise finding something you enjoy in order to stick with it. You don’t have to go running or lift weights, if it’s active and you enjoy it you’ll do it regularly.
Do you have some tips for managing workplace stress?
My number one piece of advice is physical activity. If I’m active almost daily it helps a lot with dealing with workplace stress. The other thing is to try and find time in the day to not be frenetic and on the go. Take 5-10 minutes to step back from your work and breathe.
Also, humour is a great way to reduce stress. Trying to laugh and be relaxed at work is very important. Light meeting with jokes make work an easy-going experience and is helpful in not allowing things to get too intense. Watching stressed out people in the workplace is stressful so the more we can relax, the better it is for everyone.
Anything else you would like to share?
Wellness is so very important for the workplace and the University of Lethbridge embraces it. Senior leaders need to serve as a model and I’m happy when I see these leaders in the gym and at Pronghorns games showing our staff and students how important it is to us.