While wellness is usually discussed as an activity or attribute, Matthew Pleggenkuhle views wellness differently.

“Wellness is a state of being, not having or doing, and it is important to recognize that emotional and mental wellness are often more important than physical wellness,” said Pleggenkuhle, business process manager at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE).

Pleggenkuhle finds that yoga is a great way for him to focus on his state-of-being wellness.

“My daily practice keeps me grounded, especially in times of stress and uncertainty,” said Pleggenkuhle. “Whether I work at physical postures, yoga breathing techniques or interiorization, I feel wellness benefits.”

Currently, he is doing a personal daily routine, but when the yoga studios open again, he has another go-to.

“My favorite yoga routine that can be easily found in Omaha is the hot yoga practice, which involves 90 minutes of over 100-degree heat and 26 postures,” he said. “It’s not for everyone, but it is a great mental and physical detox, and it is easy to focus on the task at hand to the exclusion of the busy world outside.”

He knows that while yoga is great for the mind and body, it must be supplemented by other activities.

“I have been keeping up with BCBSNE’s 10,000-step wellness challenge and have reacquainted myself with the X-Factor series, which is cardio with muscle resistance because my current practice of yoga does not provide enough muscle resistance training,” said Pleggenkuhle.

In addition to being physically active and well, Pleggenkuhle also focuses on mindful eating.

“I adhere to the standard process model,” said Pleggenkuhle. “That is, good inputs, such as diet or sleep, plus good processing, such as yoga or resistance training, equals a good output, which is a healthy state of mind and body.”

Pleggenkuhle has also learned that there’s room for some not-so-healthy food and a necessity for proper hydration.

“My motto for the past few years has been get in the good stuff first like fruits, vegetables, healthy fats and proteins, and if you have room, enjoy some fun food,” he said. “I also focus on hydration and drink 36 ounces immediately after waking to ensure I start hydrated.”

He could not have done it all on his own, however.

“Without a particle of doubt, I know the well-being of others affects my own well-being,” said Pleggenkuhle. “I have participated in a number of wellness challenges where the entire team benefits from the encouragement and camaraderie.”

Along with his colleagues, Pleggenkuhle finds support from BCBSNE as a whole.

“Over the years, I have frequented the wellness center, but my personal wellness is primarily tied to our company heartbeat,” said Pleggenkuhle. “BCBSNE makes the effort to provide wellness opportunities at many levels, like the wellness center, diversity and inclusion, community support, flexible hours when possible, continuing education and an open door to discuss critical issues with leadership.”

As the world settles into a new normal, he is finding his rhythm at home as well.

“I have continued to focus on grounding my mind, which includes spending time with my wife and daughters; one is in Tampa, so there’s a lot of FaceTime, walking our dog and a morning and evening yoga practice,” he said.

As Omaha slowly opens within the next months, Pleggenkuhle will be quick to get back to hot yoga.

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*Wise & Well is a monthly wellness series highlighting BCBSNE employees and their dedication to health and wellness.