The word wellness is meant to stand for mental and/or physical well-being, but has it lost it’s meaning? Is wellness still about taking care of yourself?
Wellness, self-care, well-being, these are all buzz words that are thrown around online and in the real world, they came to the foreground with people trying to improve their own health, mental and otherwise. But somewhere along the way it became big business, now when you search on Twitter or Instagram, the mixture of posts shows an unhealthy trend. Just today a search using the hashtag #wellness, revealed a worrying trend. The posts that came up were a stream of carefully prepared food in glamorous setups, idyllic homes and healthy toned people working out in the gym. Very little was something you could easily identify with. This led to the question of whether we’ve lost sight of what wellness should be.
I posed this question on twitter today, asking what wellness means to other people, and I’ll add the responses as they come in (if they come in 😉 ). However, yesterday I took the time to ask my friends what they see wellness as and how they feel about the wellness movement, the consensus wasn’t an overly positive one. We’ll rename them for the sake of anonymity, answers came from A, T, J and S. For A, it felt like the culture of wellness was a “push culture” blaming the victim for not trying hard enough to make themselves well, implicating that they were not making enough effort to do things recommended by pseudo-experts. Not to mention that the vast amount of it seems perpetuated by companies that want your money but don’t seem to actually care about your wellness. T believes it started with good intentions, but has become too commercialised, losing it’s meaning among all the Instagram celebrities that try to tell you what it means to work on your wellness. A third suggestion from J, argued that the only real negative that had come from the wellness movement was from those who used it to show off, a “look at me” attitude, that seeing someone fit and healthy in the gym stating they’re there to “get fit” didn’t encourage others so much as demotivate those who had a lot further to go. One response from a twitter user blamed meme culture, stating that it led to a demise in the original meaning, indeed memes are frequently inaccurate quotes and in more than a few cases, are somewhat disingenuous. Lastly S had a few very interesting comments on the whole scene, that the idea of wellness wasn’t to blame, that those who were willing to perpetuate a falsehood in order to get likes/views on social media were, largely, the main reason the message was lost. Indeed wellness on social media is a shocking thing that doesn’t seem to actually focus much on the developing a feeling of wellness.
Indeed it was only recently that an article came out in the Sydney Herald, that examined how wellness was actually making us sick, as I read it, the general feel was that wellness was not about how to improve yourself as a person, by helping yourself and others, but merely about what you can do for yourself. There are a lot more points made in this article that are fascinating, I recommend giving it a read.
I digress, S pointed out that his own feeling of wellness had not been achieved by following social media posts, following a movement, or getting fit but in focusing on the things that he loves, taking the time to enjoy them. Indeed, in my own mission to learn more about wellness and well-being, I have fallen into the trap of memes, posts and camera angles. This question has reminded me that focusing on doing the things I love, does more for my health and well-being than staring at the posts of those who claim to encourage wellness.
So let’s start focusing on real wellness and self-care, if that means cheering yourself on for going to the gym, then well done, but for others, it is often a very different idea. Take the time to decide what it means for you, and what will help you with that. It might be doing things for yourself, or it might mean accepting help from others, perhaps it’s going out to see friends (or sit in your front room with them), or it might mean taking a nap to get your through the day. And remember, doing something for others can give you both a pretty awesome sense of well-being, my favourite birthday card ever was made by a friend (A) and I’ve kept it safe for several years. I hope knowing that brings her a warm fuzzy feeling, because reading it makes me smile.
Do you agree with this? What’s your feelings towards the wellness movement?