Why I have decided to tackle this topic on a Monday morning is BEYOND me!
Wellness and wellbeing – hot topics of conversation but what they do they even mean? Aren’t they the same?
I decided to take this to a dictionary (sadly not Urban Dictionary on this occasion) to find out exactly what each definition was:
Well-being: the state of being comfortable, healthy or happy.
Wellness: the state of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal.
So essentially, quite different but often used interchangeably.
As part of setting up The Healthy OT, I have spent HOURS on the old social media – trying to reconnect with the ‘real world’ after my time working in the public sector. What I soon discovered what that I was becoming fearful of how all of these ‘wellness’ individuals may perceive me. Everyone’s striving for wellness right?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for wellness – it’s essential we are living healthy lives, but I find that spending time looking at all these photos of people doing incredible yoga poses, eating their smoothie bowls and avocados whilst sipping on their lemon water could quite easily impact on my well-being and I wanted to nip that in the bud right now.
One of the driving factors for The Healthy OT was highlighting the importance of health and well-being, and quite frankly, if that means being a size 14 instead of a size 10, or not having flawless skin or the flexibility of a contortionist then that’s okay.
For me, being comfortable and confident is what’s important which is why yesterday I decided to be brave and ‘confess’ on the ‘gram that over the past couple of years I have gained 17lb – my ‘confession’ was because I don’t feel okay right now. My self-esteem isn’t ideal, my knees hurt, my clothes are too tight and I could feel better because when I was 17lb lighter, I did feel comfortable and happier.
On the flip side, I feel quite okay about living a life where I don’t get up at 5am to practice yoga. I have tried to love avocado but I just can’t get on board and I’m not going to make myself eat it. Although my breakfasts are relatively healthy, I will reach for the Lucky Charms (price dependent) if I want them.
I worry that the concept of ‘wellness’ is actually encouraging people to achieve perfection which is having a detrimental affect on people’s mental health and wellbeing. We have moved on from trying to achieve size 0 bodies (another thing I never achieved) and we are beginning to worry about whether our breakfasts appear healthy enough to post a photo of on Instagram.
Don’t get me wrong – it’s amazing that we live in a world where we are beginning to prioritise our health, it’s certainly what we need to do. But it is ESSENTIAL that we are realistic about it. Being able to wrap your legs around your head can’t happen overnight – the people on Instagram have spent years working on that one pose for that one shot that’s going to get them several thousand ‘likes’. These people have also chosen yoga as their hobby for whatever reason and they enjoy spending their time doing it (I hope).
However, if yoga isn’t your thing then that’s fine too. There’s plenty of other ways to help you stretch and strengthen your muscles (which is kind of an important thing to do). There is no one diet that works for everyone so find an eating regime that works for you. I have tried every diet in the book and I know deep down that calorie counting using MyFitnessPal works for me (even though I live in denial and have gained 17lbs). Choose to engage in the hobbies you want to do – there is this creation of ‘self-care’ (taking time out for yourself, which is nothing new), which I’m all for, but engaging in hobbies that you actually enjoy helps to form a stronger sense of identity, so don’t feel peer pressured into using expensive face masks or having a manicure, if you’d much rather kick back and watch Netflix with a glass of wine.
Whilst writing this, I went on Instagram just to make sure my perceptions of wellness were still the same and the first photo that popped up was a person in Bali taking a picture of their feet and so I wanted to touch on these ‘retreats’ that all these influencers go on (it did say the person was on a retreat, I wasn’t jumping to conclusions!)
Again, I’m not disparaging you if a wellness retreat is your thing – I think it’s great that there is the option to go to an incredible location, eat all of the good food and practice yoga daily, and it’s a tad healthier for you (mentally and physically) than an 18-30 holiday.
But if you would rather go to an all-inclusive hotel or a city break – that’s okay too. Essentially, it is the ‘having the break from real life’ that is required and I know that I would much prefer being in Aruba than in Bali but that my preference (and yes I’m still not over Aruba and it is almost 12 months since I went!).
There is so much conflicting advice out there that it is a very confusing time to know what the ‘right’ thing to do is to achieve ‘optimum’ health. We can all certainly be healthier but we will never be perfectly healthy. We are all individuals and every person’s body works differently and therefore plant-based may work for one person whilst someone else may feel healthier eating meat. The best thing you can do is be yourself, embrace who you are and take part in the activities that you enjoy and have the most meaning to you.