The month of November has finally greeted us with open arms and with that comes a resurgence of thick (or at least trying) moustaches, fitness challenges and a little - if not a lot - of appreciation for the men in our lives. Grab your Mo bros and Mo sisters and raise funds for all the significant men in your life with this year’s Movember Campaign.
What’s more, Movember encourages men to keep moving, with various challenges and goals set throughout the month. Highlighting the importance of health - both physical and mental - the campaign has our Movember community mo’ing, moving and motivating each other to address men’s mental health in a safe space.
In honour of the month of the moustache, Remix chatted to Jay Reeve about the many ways he’s supporting Movember, his personal motivation to join the campaign and how he keeps healthy and happy all year round.
It’s so good that you are partnering with Movember for this issue. What’s your position with Movember? Are you a bit of an ambassador?
I’m a long-standing Mo Bro. I did my first Movember campaign when I was a prefect at Tauranga Boys College. We petitioned the board of trustees to see if we could grow moustaches while we were still at school (there was a no facial hair rule at college) and it was unsuccessful. But then, I came back as a teacher to Tauranga Boys and we started the first Movember Campaign. That was before it was established here in New Zealand and was only an Australian charity. We raised funds and found a men’s charity to donate to. It was great because having that leadership role in an all boys school and showing fellas that it's important to take care of themselves was a crucial life lesson, for both them and me. At that stage, I was a 21 year old teacher at a secondary school and burning the candle at both ends. In fact, I’d say I actually chucked the candle into the fire and hoped for the best.
Health is a combination of things. How do you keep healthy - both physically and mentally?
I think my health regime is something that can be continually worked on. This year in particular, I’ve continually been leaning into new physical challenges that I've never been exposed to before, hence the boxing fight with Tammy. A part of that is being an example for my kids. I want to encourage them to try something new, be prepared to fail and have the mindset and the strength to be able to do that. Learning something new is important to continually learn and grow. With my day-to-day health, I do some breathwork - a guided breathing session every morning with Wim Hof. It’s eleven minutes on YouTube. It’s the simplest thing that you can do but also the best way you can start your day. I also do cold showering regularly. Outside of that, I try to trot a little bit. My 40th is in February next year which will involve a surf trip to Indonesia. I want to get fit for summer and even fitter going into that so I can take some good old-fashioned hidings in the waves and experience some scary low reefs.
Go you! What do you think is the biggest problem or issue regarding New Zealand men’s mental health?
I think we still need to create a better relationship with alcohol across the board. It's something that Pals and I are really focused on which is why we released a ten pack. The correct serving for people to be socially active and a part of a conversation is two standard drinks, which is why we share that with you and four mates. I think that's an important number that most people don't pick up on as well. The number five not only makes it easier for people to sway and lead the conversation, but it also helps mediate a conversation, particularly when two different people might be sitting on either side of the fence. I think that is one thing as a nation that we need to get better at - our relationship with alcohol.
How are you taking part in this year’s Movember campaign?
I think that one of the worst things that I see perpetuated throughout the media is the phrase ‘raise awareness’ for men’s mental health. I don't think that anyone is acutely unaware of the fact that our mental health is absolutely fucked but it’s about what you’re doing to be better with that. I'm all about advocacy for men’s health in general. What I'm more about is providing solid, tested examples and that’s a campaign that’s going to be happening this year with Movember. My brain child is the phrase, ‘this works for me, it might work for you.’ It's just showcasing what it is that you do. Ice baths and breathwork might not work for everyone, in fact, it doesn't. Just as running marathons and ultra marathons doesn't work for everybody. Going to a psychologist doesn't work for everybody. It’s about showcasing the broad spectrum of help that is available to you and also going through all these checkpoints. I think a lot of people turn up releasing they’re not in a good way but people don't just get to that point overnight. It's a combination of things. It's a breakdown of your friendship groups, it's a breakdown of where you fit in society and how you are seen by your peers, it’s isolation and loneliness, it’s dependence on alcohol, substances and food and everything that goes with that. So, if you see yourself falling into these patterns early and realise, ‘Actually, I’m in a bit of a tricky situation here. I’m heading towards a destination that I don't want to be at’, it’s important to ask yourself what the signs are and how you can pull yourself back from that.
Did you have a breakthrough moment in your mental health or an experience that changed your life for the better?
I did an incredible DMT session where one of the key things I got from it was being more grateful for what I have and being a lot more present in the now. Worrying about the future is pointless because it hasn't happened yet and worrying about the past is also pointless because you can't change what’s happened. If you're not present when you’re living, then you're trying to live in the future or trying to live in the past and that has no bearing on what you’re currently doing right now. One of the other things I got from the DMT session was not losing your days for your nights. I couldn't quite make sense of it at the time but it resonated later on. I have young kids and I only have a couple of days off a week. So, if I go out and party on Friday and Saturday night, I’m a piece of shit on Saturday and Sunday, then I’m losing my days to those nights and losing that time with the people that mean the most to me. When you put it into a hierarchy of who is important in your life, family is at the top. I don't want everybody else to get the best of me and then they get the dregs. I want it to be flipped on its head. I want them to get the very best and I want everybody else to get the dregs because they don't deserve it at the level that my kids do. So, I think going through those things and reading a lot, learning a lot, absorbing information and flexing your brain is so important. There’s some incredible stuff happening in New Zealand in terms of our mental cognition and how it is that we recover and look after our brains. If you look after the top four inches, the rest of the body follows suit. A healthy mind creates a healthy body. Healthy body, healthy mind. It plays back and forth. You've got to stretch those muscles and think of your brain as a muscle. You’ve got to work it out. Put it in tricky positions. Let it go up and let it come down.
How do you feel about social media and its role in mental health?
The internet is great for everything. I could find this article on the internet and that could be really beneficial to me. But, I could also go down some tragic hole of following somebody who has got a really contrived way of presenting themselves on social media and then compare myself with that person that I’ve never met, who I’m completely different from. Comparison is the theft of joy and I think everybody needs to be happy with themselves before they can climb into those spaces. You need to fortify yourself and have some value in yourself because otherwise you’ll forever be stuck there. The internet and social media are the best and also, at the same time, the worst places to be.
What has been your most significant Movember activity to date?
Last Movember we did what we called, ‘a couple of cold ones with the boys’. We encouraged men to take continual ice baths, cold showers or cold submergences for the month of November. I posted a video of a guided breathwork session which is only eleven minutes - if you can’t give yourself eleven minutes in the day then you probably don't deserve the body that you’re in - and it’s one of the simplest things that I’ve ever done. That, followed by a cold shower, is really easy and a great way to get people’s day started. Every single person that did it said that it was their new normal, they felt better and more balanced and it made them a more calm and relaxed individual during the day. It’s a life skill that is simple and free and we’ve all got access to it. That’s one of the best things we’ve done to date.
What type of moustache are you going to go for this year?
I’ll more than likely be going for one of two choices. I have in the past run a Tom Selleck which is your classic Magnum P.I thick and bushy moustache across the top lip. Or, I’ll trim it into a signature moustache which we call the Sexy Dempsey, named after Jason Dempsey - the Herne Bay dilf.
Do you have any advice for fellow kiwis who are thinking of getting involved in Movember this year?
I think that men’s health is something we need to focus on all year round and that’s one of the big things that we’re talking about for Movember. I share an office with Movember and my business partner is Robert Dunn who runs Movember. This is a conversation between us that is ongoing. You need to focus on it for more than one month. A moustache is the easiest way of signifying to other people that you care about men's health in New Zealand. You are a walking, talking, hairy billboard for men's health. And if you can’t grow a moustache, there’s other things that you can do. Getting your mates together for a weekly catch-up around something other than beers is a great idea. Go for long walks, try new sports or new outdoor pursuits that will get you out into some fresh air. I think it's just as important for females - they play such an important role within how Movember goes for a lot of men as well. My wife, Anna, runs the shop. She is a life admin. She makes sure that I'm booked in to see a dentist, I’m booked in to see a GP, I’m booked in to get regular blood work done. Those things are non-negotiable in November. You’re taking your body in for a Warrant of Fitness. You wouldn't hop behind the wheel of a car that hadn’t had a WOF in forty years so why would you do it to yourself?
This Movember, grow, move or host, and play your part in changing the face of men's health, while having a whole lot of fun in the process! Find out more on what Movember does, where the funds go, and how to sign up and take part in Movember by clicking here.