I was talking to a friend recently who felt like she was ‘failing’ at the whole wellness thing. And this is someone who regularly exercises, is of a healthy weight, has stable mental health, a good job and a healthy social life. But because she wasn’t tongue scraping, drinking charcoal, gratitude journaling and meditating daily, she felt like she was doing it all wrong.
As someone who lives in Bondi (the international hub of kombucha swilling and oil pulling) I can tell you that we have drastically over-complicated wellness. There is an absolute landslide of information, diets, programs and products. We get so caught up in the details that we become distracted from getting the foundations right.
There are conflicting opinions on literally everything from what we should eat, to how and when we should exercise and how long we should nap. The common denominator is that everyone is trying to sell us something - whether that’s vitamins, a workout program or a mindfulness app.
All these things can absolutely be valuable, but the list of what we ‘should’ be doing gets overwhelming. It’s also tempting to focus on fun and sexy products, while neglecting the basics. It’s easier to throw money at fancy supplements than deal with our emotional eating. Or binge-scroll fitness models instead of going for a walk. We can get that dopamine-buzz just from reading about wellness tips, instead of actually doing them.
The secret to wellness 'success' is simplicity. The basics - good sleep, food, exercise and relaxation - get us 95% of the way there. The rest is the icing on the (paleo gluten free) cake.
1. Sleep well - Wind down before bed, and if you’re waking up gagging for caffeine, maybe go to bed half an hour earlier.
2. Eat well - Even if the ‘perfect diet’ does exist, we’re human. Let’s live our lives without obsessing over macros. As Michael Pollan said: ‘Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.’
3. Move well - Find movement you enjoy and do it often.
4. Relax well - Switch off the tech, and calm your mind in whatever way works for you.
5. Love well - Connect with other humans. A six pack won’t make you happy, but loving relationships will.
This isn’t about setting the bar low or not having goals. This is about setting attainable objectives, making them habits, then adding-on if we need to. If you’re managing to get these basics sorted, you’re already a wellness hero.