Remember when we were casual about food and didn’t care about a ketogenic diet, avocado smoothies, and superfoods? The time when food was just a tiny, neutral part of life, and not a standalone ‘relationship’? The time when we didn’t spend a pretty penny on supplements and didn’t even know what a meditation retreat is. In the blink of an eye wellness became a word most of us hear almost every day.
At one point in time, wellness was a word used to describe taking care of yourself by getting enough sleep, spending time with loved ones, and relaxing with hobbies you enjoy. However, in the past few decades, ‘wellness’ has become synonymous with “feeling good is not enough”. You might feel well, but you’re able to feel fantastic! Just take these supplements, boost a healthy diet with superfoods, spend a few hours a week mindfully doing yoga, or go on a retreat.
The industry selling “wellness” has become a business that brings in more than $30 billion a year, mostly in the form of supplements that studies have proven do nothing to improve our health or increase our longevity.
What wellness is
At its core, wellness is about taking care of your physical, mental, and emotional health. It means managing stress so that it does not have a negative effect on your health, eating right, getting enough exercise and sleep, and strengthening your immune system.
Wellness can look different for everyone. While one person might equate wellness with regular gym visits, trips to the massage therapist, and vitamin drinks, another may view wellness as nightly meals with their family, a vegetarian diet, and device-free Sundays. The important thing to realize is that wellness is all about what makes you feel balanced, centered, and healthy and not what the marketing companies tell you you need to buy to be ‘well’.
What wellness is not
People want to feel better than they do — that’s human nature. Manufacturers of many wellness products know it and play on your most private proclivities, fears and greatest hopes for a better life.
Wellness is not about buying high-priced supplements or drink mixes that marketing companies convince you will make you live longer and ward off diseases. In a world full of information, you need to become the most educated buyer you can be. The best you can do for your health is to be a conscious, educated person who is able to filter information and make science-backed choices.
While some vitamins and drinks can fill in nutritional gaps and address minor issues like fatigue and digestive upset, they shouldn’t be considered a universal, multi-purpose magic pill.
Wellness has become a trend people want to jump on board with. There are so many different options and labels out there, but it doesn’t always mean that they’re all suitable for you. The human body is complicated and unique, what works for you might not work for me. That’s why there are no easy answers and that’s okay. Wellness and everything related to health is a personal journey where you find out what you particularly need. That’s why we believe it’s important to tune in to your own body. Once you do so, you may find that what you are told to be right and healthy is not what your body really needs.
How a wrong concept of wellness ruins your mental health
These days wellness means being not only “healthy”, “fit” or “well”, but being optimistic, mindful, slim, energetic, attractive, and mentally sharp. Wellness has become a kind of attribute for successful self-representation. Sometimes we don’t even really want to be healthy, but show we’re the best and going hard at everything.
Wellness gurus these days saturate many social media platforms. They convince users to work out harder, eat cleaner and upload millions of posts telling the world about another recipe how to feel better. Internet images of “ordinary” next-door people who look like photoshopped fitness models is a dangerous social construction that feeds a trillion-dollar industry. These trends make people push themselves to unhealthy extremes in search of self-improvement. That’s where feelings of guilt arise from.
Constant desire to improve the mind, body, and spirit is not about wellness nor health. It’s about anxiety and control issues. Dr. Mark Zager, MD, ESA Care says, “When people feel anxious or out of control in their lives, focusing on something like what they eat or how they exercise can temporarily make them feel like they have some control.”
Wellness minimalism may be the solution
The pandemic and global isolation has made one thing clear: we need less things than we’ve been convinced we need. We used to think of wellness as something idealized, aspirational, expensive and ultimately unattainable. But, as it turns out, we don’t need fancy smoothies, or luxury gym equipment to eat well, do physical activity and be happy.
What we really need is to know how to manage anxiety during very uncertain times, have access to simple food, be able to be around loved ones and sleep a sufficient amount of hours.
Being a wellness minimalist means determining what is meaningful to you individually, and discarding the rest. With that kind of understanding of your own needs, you don’t need anybody else to tell you what’s healthy and better. Such an approach to wellness can give your life the depth and significance it may be lacking right now.
What’s the moral of this story? Now, more than ever, we need to go back to the basics of health: simple food, consistent movement, calm thoughts, and mindfulness. It’s important to be able to tell the difference between what your body really needs and what you’re told it needs.
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