Being obsessed with wellness is a good thing right? Or is it? We all know that obsessing about anything rarely ends well – even if those things are super healthy ones like yoga poses or plant milks. Isn’t wellness supposed to be all about feeling positive and seeking balance - not about being perfect at everything health, exercise and nutrition-related?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we should stop seeking wellness, far from it, I am more committed than I have ever been to a leading a holistic life and sharing its benefits with others, I just think we might have become too fixated on curating a perfect wellness day for ourselves everyday.
Somewhere along the way, amongst all the social media chatter, beautiful photos of yoga in exotic locations and endless clean eating cookery books we’ve bought – we’ve lost sight of our original wellness goals of having more energy, clearer skin and better sleep. Now we’re reaching so high with our 6am meditations, efforts to make our own kefir and advanced handstands – it is becoming increasingly hard to meet the elevated health standards we set ourselves.
Despite the fact that we have full time jobs, families to raise and houses to keep on top of, many of us compare our lives, our bodies, our workouts and our meals to those of “wellness celebs” – gorgeous, talented young women whose career is to live and breathe wellbeing - be that teaching it, cooking it, taking pictures of themselves doing it or leading retreats on it. That is their job and they do it really well but we need to remind ourselves to be inspired by their lifestyles not envious.
I started my wellness business back in 2001 when yoga was still viewed as "a bit hippy" and green tea was only served in Japanese restaurants. Nothing makes me happier to see how the health and beauty industry has moved on but I do worry about the pressure we are putting ourselves to live our best lives and be our healthiest selves everyday.
I have spent a lot of time lately thinking about my own relationship with wellness and whether it is one of pleasure or an obsession. I have realised that virtually every decision I make is being led by its “wellness outcome” and my happiness is being determined by whether I have had a “good wellness day” – that is one where I had managed to tick off all the wellness to-dos on my list – cold pressed juices, supplements, meditation, home-prepped lunch, no coffee, progressive exercise, mindful yoga, walking at least 15,000 steps, no late night screen-time or scrolling, early to bed and so on…Or a “bad wellness day”, one when I had only managed to complete say, half of the list …
All of this is hardly surprising when the latest research shows that spending just over half an hour a day looking at social media knocks our self-esteem and body confidence. We want our lives – including what we eat and how we exercise – to be perfect and we feel like we’re letting ourselves down if we don’t measure up.
So what I’m reminding myself, and teaching my kids, is that we’re only getting people’s highlight reels and although it’s natural to compare our lives to others it’s not helpful. Life is rarely perfect – it will always be filled with challenges, achievements, set backs, progress and wobbles.
So the next time you feel overwhelmed by your wellbeing to-do list or feeling you’re being consumed by the green-eyed monster that is wellness envy, revisit why you started living more healthily in the first place. Remember why you started your wellbeing journey, remind yourself that it always about practice not perfection. Even if your simply snuck away from your desk to eat lunch and did 20 minutes of gentle yoga in your living room – that is ok, in fact it's great. Tomorrow, you can build on that and think about cutting back on the coffee and having an aromatherapy bath. The next day you can make some soup and perhaps go for a run. Give yourself a break – wellness is all about caring for yourself and it is a journey for your life not a tick list.
Tips for if you're struggling with wellness envy
Problem: suffering holiday blues and spending too much time scrolling through amazing photos of beach retreats you're not going to be booking anytime soon
Solution: try taking an essential oil shower with uplifting notes to transport you to relaxation destination – Bergamot, Jasmine or Ylang Ylang always work for me. Or book a day retreat at your favourite studio or with a teacher you’ve always admired.
Problem: drooling over beautiful smoothie bowls with countless, hard-to-come by ingredients and artistic presentation
Solution: overnight-oats are super easy to make and can be as beautiful as your creativity and kitchen cupboard allows – I’m soaking oats, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds in almond milk and topping with walnuts, cinnamon and bananas
Problem: feeling resentful that you have no time to go the gym or get to your favourite yoga class
Solution: instead of giving up on ever finding time to workout, sign up to an online exercise and yoga website and you can have the pick of the latest classes whenever, wherever you wish – I’m a big fan of grokker.com. Can you turn your work commute or the school run into workout? When I can, I power walk to work and run to get the kids from school.
Problem: worrying that you drink too much coffee and you should be moving on to home-made golden milk plus taking a photo of yourself while drinking it
Solution: keep it simple and much more healthy by switching to green tea – you’ll still get a slight buzz as it contains caffeine but it’s also packed with antioxidant benefits that help with everything from digestion to ageing. You’ll also save yourself a small fortune every week.
Problem: feeling that everybody else has plenty of spare time to sweat it out in HIIT classes after which they go home to their lovely tidy homes to enjoy delicious freshly prepared vegan food
Solution: just let all that resentment go and close your day with some lovely restorative yoga poses like Legs Up the Wall, have an early night and a good night’s rest. When you wake up in the morning you will feel refreshed and maybe ready for a run or some sun salutations.
Problem: you love all the body-hugging activewear around but think you are not slim/young/tall enough to wear it….
Solution: you will probably look absolutely fantastic in those printed yoga pants, but if you just don’t feel confident always go for quality – thick, opaque, high-stretch breathability fabrics and work with layers and wraps to expose the body parts you like and conceal those you are not so keen on.