If you told me two years ago that I’d be writing to you today as a happy, healthy yoga instructor, I probably would have laughed! At that time, the entire concept of wellbeing – much less, yoga – was the furthest thing from my mind. Let me explain.
I spent 12 incredible years at Salesforce as one of the first East Coast-based Success Managers. I got to see our business and culture grow in the most amazing ways and even had the privilege of working with some of our largest customers. However, despite this "success," I was also in the midst of the most difficult period in my life: living in pain from the combination of a prior sports injury plus back surgery along with the emotional toll of recently losing my mother. I didn't know how or where to reach out for help. So, instead, I struggled with anxiety, depression, and an addiction to pain medication.
My coworkers had no idea about the challenges I was facing. My goal was to keep my career and personal life afloat as much as possible. Then, a little over a year ago, I hit rock bottom. I needed to take some time off for myself but was hesitant to explain why. Thankfully, my manager didn’t miss a beat when I asked for time off. She was compassionate, understanding, and offered to do whatever she could to help.
It was at this moment – and with a great amount of hesitation – that I checked myself into a rehabilitation center. It was a decision that saved my life.
During rehab, I started down a path of rediscovery around my own wellbeing. I learned how to follow the traditional 12-step program to treat my addiction. More importantly, however, I learned how to prioritize my own health – whether mental, physical, and/or spiritual – above everything else. Surprisingly enough, yoga was at the heart of my recovery.
Let's fast-forward to today. I have lost 35 pounds. I have revamped my eating habits. I have quit smoking and drinking. I have figured out a way to manage my anxiety and depression. I couldn't have done it without my yoga practice. I can truly say it changed my life completely. But I would have never discovered yoga – or even sought treatment – without the support of an employer, like Salesforce, that truly values wellbeing and gives employees the time, space, and resources to make it a priority.
I've learned a whole lot over the last year and a half. Here are just four things I’d recommend to anyone interested in improving their life through wellbeing:
Keep wellbeing a top priority. This may seem like the most obvious, but it is the most important. Prioritizing my own health and wellness was something that took time and effort. I worked hard — and still have to work at it today — to make time for both my daily yoga practice and 12-step meetings. And I do it to put my mental health and sobriety first in my life. Making a conscious effort to take it one-day-at-a-time and to remain present every step of the way has made all the difference.
Don’t limit yourself. Like I said, the mere picture of myself as a yoga instructor was laughable not that long ago. In fact, I didn't even feel fully committed when I started my practice. I felt out of place and totally disconnected from my body. It took time to see the physical and emotional benefits – and to become comfortable with letting go of my fears. Speaking of fear...
Face your fears head-on. It may sound cliché but running towards my fears helped me realize that each of my fears could be overcome with the right attitude and support. For me, that meant sharing my thoughts with the people I trusted most and allowing myself the time I needed to clear my head. No matter how big or small the fear, taking a moment to quiet your mind can do a world of good. At Salesforce, we have peaceful spaces called "Mindfulness Zones" where you can meditate or simply take a moment to yourself. Give it a try. Find a quiet space in your home or at the office.
Find your support community and resources. I’m lucky to have the #SalesforceOhana as part of my community. It's constantly bursting with opportunities to try new things, become more mindful, and be well, in general. You can find your own community just by getting involved. For inspiration, here are a couple more ways we value of wellbeing at Salesforce:
Lastly – and most importantly – always remember that you’re never alone in your pursuit of wellbeing and happiness. We're all in this together! If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction, please seek help. You can find more information at www.drugabuse.gov.
Learn more about the Salesforce culture and values at salesforce.com/careers.