I’m a bit of a wellness holistic spiritual slow living junkie. Please don’t laugh at my ever-growing collection of crystals and tarot cards and my breathing exercises and my addiction to herbal wellness teas.
This is what wellness looks like to me. It’s full of energy work, yoga, tea, gardening, and trying to live as slow a life as possible while also living in the suburbs.
Now, I’m not talking about Wellness Culture. No. I’m talking about being a happy and healthy person on a daily basis.
But sometimes I feel like maybe it would be easier if I could just walk around the block and pick up a healthy cold-pressed juice whenever I felt like it or wouldn’t it be nice to have wholesome organic food every day? Access to a wilder variety of eco-friendly choices is somewhat limited unless you’re in a city.
But that doesn’t mean I’m not still able to do as much as I can.
As much fun as it would be to live in L.A. and have access to all the health and wellness and holistic resources the city has, I don’t need it. Companies and influencers will try to convince you that you need certain things in order to be happy and healthy. They will say you need to buy this powdered mushroom drink thing so you can be energetic or that this certified organic coconut oil will change your life.
Wellness isn’t about material objects. It’s about you being mindful in your daily life and making intentional choices that keep you mentally and physically happy.
As long as you are connected to your joy and present in the moment, you are participating in wellness.
I specifically bought certain crystals because they held meaning for me and bring me joy. If surrounding yourself with houseplants is meaningful for you, then do it. But, don’t buy into the idea that wellness is about things.
Wellness is about you.
Yoga at home
I don’t think I will ever stop trying to get people to try yoga. Even if you don’t have access to a studio, you can do yoga right at home.
There are hundreds and hundreds of free yoga videos on youtube. I’d personally recommend checking out Yoga with Adriene because instead of glorifying hyper bendy skinny bodies, she focuses on what feels good to you. If you can’t touch your toes, no problem.
Even if your yoga practice is simply standing in mountain pose and breathing for a few minutes, it’s completely free and totally healthful.
“When you listen to yourself, everything comes naturally. It comes from inside, like a kind of will to do something. Try to be sensitive. That is yoga.” ― Petri Räisänen
Breathe breathe breath
Connected to yoga, I find simply reminding myself to take a deep breath every now and again helps me calm down when I’m dealing with daily stress. And it’s that simple.
It takes less than five minutes to simply take a deep breath and feel your lungs expand. Be sure you’re filling up your lungs all the way — sometimes people get into a shallow breathing habit.
Simply breathing brings more oxygen into your blood which then circulates around your body, and expells all the carbon dioxide that’s built up. It’s easy, it’s free, and you do it every day.
Be mindful of your eating, but also eat what brings you joy
Despite what some diet touters would tell you, you need food in order to function. Our bodies need food to create energy, so we can do all the things we need to do during the day.
A million different people will tell you a million different diets worked for them. But diets are, in my opinion, big fat lies; especially ones that cut our carbs or fats.
My attitude — though it’s easier to say than to practice — is balance. I try to be intentional with the food I consume, making sure I’m eating plenty of colourful fruits and veggies. But I also don’t deny myself treats.
What kind of life would I be living if I couldn’t eat chocolate?
“Nurturing yourself is not selfish — it’s essential to your survival and your well–being.” — Renee Peterson Trudeau
Now, I’m a weird case. I suffer from IBS and food sensitivities, so I’m a little hyper-aware of what foods I’m eating and when. But, I don’t see the harm in everyone being more mindful of their eating habits.
You know your body best. You know what foods it needs to be healthy — or if you don’t, you should probably learn. If cutting out dairy or red meat or gluten or processed sugars or greasy foods makes you feel good, then do it. But do it for you!
Also, slow down. One thing I’ve found that helps me not feel like crap after eating is slow and mindful bites. I really enjoy my food and chew it thoroughly before I swallow. It’s hard and sometimes food inhalation happens, but if you remember, try to slow down.
Get connected to your body
What do the three topics I just wrote about have in common? They require or assist in you connecting to your body. This isn’t necessarily body positivity, but just having a relationship with your body so you can take care of it properly.
This is something I’ve been working on only since I’ve been in my 20s. Before then, my body was simply a meat sack I was dragging around to all my activities. I didn’t have a good relationship with it, even when it was skinny as a teenager and especially not when I started to gain weight in university.
But as I’ve cultivated a better relationship with my physical and psychological self, the benefits have been endless and I feel better than I ever did as a size 0. I’m able to listen to my body when it needs something — like more water or a snack or rest or to move — and I know when I need to take time to care for my mental health.
I wouldn’t hear any of this without the vital connection to myself. Yoga was such a big influence as I was building this connection. Suddenly I had to pay attention to how my body was feeling as I was moving through different flows and postures. And I was able to take the lessons off of my mat and continue the relationship in my regular life.
Learning how to listen to your body and inner self is a skill that is vital to embracing wellness.
Wellness can be found anywhere
When you think of wellness, what do you see?
Do you see skinny girls doing yoga, people in meditation, long bubble baths with scented candles?
This is the typical idea, but it’s a limiting idea. Now, I can’t say I’m not subscribed to the idea of meditation or yoga (obviously), but wellness is not bound by specific activities.
Wellness can be anything anywhere. It can be found when knitting or baking or hiking or reading a book or playing video games or working out or fixing a car or playing with your dog. As long as you are connected to your joy and present in the moment, you are participating in wellness.
“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, or not to anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” — Buddha
For me, wellness is yoga and mediation and bubble baths because those things bring me peace and comfort, but I also find it in painting and baking bread and even just taking walks outside. So, find what activities make you feel the best and most at peace and do those.
Do little things to stay connected to the Earth
One thing I struggle with is trying to be more environmentally conscious on a day-to-day basis.
I do the obvious things: use a reusable water bottle, don’t use plastic straws, bring my own grocery bags. But, when I’m surrounded by plastic and waste and pollution, it’s hard to feel like I’m doing anything at all.
When I buy food or skincare products or clothes or just about anything there’s always a certain amount of plastic involved. And it’s hard to be plastic-free in the suburbs of a small town. I know there are grocery stores in cities that are turning towards plastic-free food packaging and providing bulk options. But, it’s limited in most places.
It’s easy to feel immense guilt. But, it’s okay.
Truth is that no one is perfect and it’s very hard to be an eco-goddess, but there are somethings we can do to stay connected to our beautiful planet.
One thing I like to do is garden. Now, I’m not the best green thumb and I wouldn’t be afraid to call myself a black thumb sometimes, but I try my best. My family also has a small veggie garden where we grow lots of tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, fresh herbs, strawberries, catnip for our cats, and this year we’re growing cucumber. It might not be much, but it is decreasing our carbon footprint a smidge and providing a haven for pollinators.
I’m privileged enough to have space for a garden. Even if you don’t have space for a full garden, there are plenty of plants that can be grown in pots just fine. Indoor herb gardens are completely viable and even if it’s not for food and just for the aesthetic — any green is good green.
Find a little thing you can do to help mother earth. Even if it’s just volunteering to clean up garbage or just picking up litter whenever you see it. Little steps are just as important as big ones.
Wellness is a wholly personal journey and if anyone tells you that you need to do or look like or have or be a certain thing ignore them. Wellness Culture influencers are only trying to sell products, they do not have your interests at heart.
It isn’t about anyone else, just you. Find what feels good for you and go from there.
We can all participate in wellness no matter where we are and it can be done for free! No purchase necessary. Simply be present and find little joys in your life. That’s wellness. Tah-dah!