I’m a self-proclaimed wellness junkie, but I will be the first to admit that Wellness Culture™️ is the worst.
Especially in this age of COVID and post-truth, we need wellness and mindfulness more than ever. But, modern society and capitalism took a practice that is meant to be about caring for and connecting with ourselves and turned it into this for-profit consumerist suck-fest.
Instagram wellness influencers peddle detox teas – which basically act as laxatives and can cause diarrhea – or diets or basically everything you don’t actually need to practice wellness.
It’s also become a toxic sphere of “good vibes only” rhetoric where the balance of positive and negative emotions doesn’t exist and if you aren’t sparkly and happy all the time you must be doing something wrong.
No thank you. That is not wellness.
I’m by no means an expert – just an average white girl doing her best – but I think reclaiming wellness could be a revolutionary act.
Instead of cancelling wellness culture, or labelling it a toxic thing that no one needs in their life, let’s reestablish what wellness truly is and take it back from everyone who wishes to commodify personal growth and self-care.
For starters, my main pillars of wellness are:
1. Listen to your body
2. Listen to your heart
3. Listen to the earth
And these things can be practiced without detox teas or purchasing anything specifically for Wellness™️.
This is how we can reclaim wellness for ourselves and bring it to a place of health and general positivity for everyone.
Come as you are
Wellness is for everyone. Period. Done. End of story.
Influencers, who pretend to be experts, are usually white, thin, and conventionally attractive. They preach the bible of clean eating/veganism/whatever dietary trend is the most popular and bendy yoga headstands. But, that is only a very tiny and narrow portion of the population.
You don’t need to look a certain way or behave a certain way or subscribe to certain ideals. Any skin tone, body shape, neurodivergence, physical or mental ability is welcome in wellness.
For example, if wellness was only about a vegan lifestyle (à la “do no harm” philosophy), I would severely be doing myself harm. I have IBS, which strongly dictates what I can and can’t eat. If I tried to be a vegan I’d either have to give myself a protein deficiency or never leave the bathroom.
This falls under the pillar of listening to my body.
I do my very best to support sustainable farming and ethical treatment of animals, but I also include myself in my ethical standards. If that means I need to eat fish and chicken (and sometimes red meat) for a balanced healthy diet, then that’s what I need to do for me.
Your wellness is about you. It can be adjusted to fit any person anywhere.
It’s not about losing weight or looking a certain way, it’s about finding your best most beautiful you through health (mental, emotional and physical). And that looks different for everyone.
The only thing you need is You
If you are reading this article and are an alive person on this planet, you can practise wellness. It’s that easy.
You don’t need a juicer so you can go on a juice cleanse; you don’t need those fancy yoga clothes; you don’t need the essential oils or crystals; you don’t need the green juice, the flaxseed, the hemp clothing, the scented candles, the purely organic produce, the CBD oil, the jade roller, the bath salts, the fancy face cream, or the hundreds of vitamins and supplements.
You don’t need to spend a single cent (or whatever tiny version of your currency) on anything that doesn’t bring meaning or joy to your life. What is the most important thing you need on your wellness journey? Simply: You.
Most of the things I listed above can be tools on your path, but they aren’t required. The companies will try to tell you that purchasing their fair trade vagina steamer (please don’t use those) is the easiest and fastest way to total body wellness and enlightenment. But, it’s not. There is no easy or fast way and no amount of money will get you there.
I do buy crystals because they bring meaning and joy to my life and I did buy some fancy yoga pants as a treat — and I use them every day.
Honestly, you are on this path and it’s entirely yours. Don’t let anyone tell you what you should and shouldn’t take with you.
Wellness is not about how much money you spent on Goop products or how much money you have period. Wellness is you. And you decide what that means.
Wellness is not positivity
I know when I think of wellness “gurus” I think of almost ethereal people floating around in this happy bubble of good feelings, they’re mentally healthy, they exude physical health, they’re probably wearing some hand-made by monks in India outfit.
How realistic is that? Not at all.
Real-life is messy and the wellness journey is messy. We all have bad days and our emotions ebb and flow like an ocean. There is no way to live in a bubble of happiness all the time. It’s not natural.
All feelings are natural and normal. What comes up must come down, but the same is true about down feelings — obviously, in this context, I am not speaking about people with depression or mood disorders — so why fight it?
Feelings demand to be felt, to paraphrase John Green.
There is no such thing as “good vibes only” because even the people who subscribe to that ideology have bad days. We all have times where we wish we could just climb into a hole and never come out again.
Wellness is about processing those emotions and letting them take their natural course, not fighting them or rejecting them. And it’s certainly not about feeling guilty if you’re not a happy optimistic sunshine person all the time.
Like I’ve said over and over, your wellness journey is yours and you can come in all your forms down this path.
Wellness Culture™ is not going to ruin wellness if there is a shift in perception of what wellness really is. Our health is not a commodity and taking care of it through wellness doesn’t need to look or be a certain way. No matter what the influencers or bloggers trying to sell you things might tell you.
Wellness first and foremost is about you.
Let’s keep it that way.