In hindsight, I realize this really should’ve been one of my very first posts. Because, the truth is, the term ‘wellness’ gets thrown around a lot, and can have a ton of different meanings depending on who’s using it.
Rather than giving you some sort of specific Webster’s dictionary kind of definition of the word wellness, I’m going to tell you what it means to me. This way, you can have a better understanding of what I mean when I talk about wellness here on the blog, or my Instagram.
This post will define wellness, as well as provide a simple guide of 5 steps towards improving your overall wellbeing today.
What is Wellness?
For me, wellness is about being well. Umm, duh. That doesn’t really define much of anything, does it? When I talk about being well, I’m talking about taking care of all the layers- physical, mental, and emotional (or spiritual, if that’s in your wheelhouse of beliefs).
Being well isn’t necessarily the same thing as being HEALTHY, but rather feeling as good as possible in your own body, mind, and heart. The reason this is different from the idea of “health,” is that this will likely look different for everyone! Whereas health tends to have a more prescriptive approach with more black and white thinking.
Wellness is meant to be simple. It doesn’t have to have a ton of biohacking bells and whistles involved in order to be effective. Sure, sometimes those treatments and gadgets can help, but ultimately we know how to take care of ourselves on a very baseline level.
Sometimes, when we get so hung up on the way things “should” be, this creates stress, rigidity, and perfectionism. None of that helps you feel well. In fact, stress is one of the worst things we can do to ourselves. So, if trying to be a wellness queen is stressing you the hell out- that’s a sign that you’ve gone too far. Reel it back. Come home to yourself.
5 Steps Towards Improved Wellness
The most important thing to remember when you’re working on your wellness is that you’re striving for balance to the best of your ability. This means that even getting hyperfocused on the “cleanest” and healthiest way of being, can be just as unwell as the far other end of the spectrum.
Balance isn’t a place of destination we magically arrive, and just stay. Cultivating more balance in our lives is more of a constant effort that requires patience, mindfulness, and allowance of all the stuff that comes up along the way.
Sleep is number one for a reason: because it makes such a difference in how we feel! Think about how crappy you feel when you don’t get a good night’s sleep. Or if you take a red eye flight. How about when you’re jetlagged, or up with a screaming baby every few hours?
Yes, some of these instances are inevitable. And if you’re a sleep deprived parent reading this, you’re probably rolling your eyes like: yeah trust me I know sleeping would make me feel better right now, but that’s not exactly an option. That’s okay! Life will ebb and flow, and some of those waves mean less or more sleep.
As will each of these steps, the real purpose of highlighting each one is more of an opportunity to check in with these categories, and adjust if you can when it’s within your control. You’ll also notice that I’m not saying get x hours of sleep every night in order to be well. Because that’s bs! Real wellness is individual.
Take a moment to check in with your sleep. Are you sleeping enough? Or too much? How is the quality of your sleep? Is there anything you can do to feel more well rested right now?
Maybe that means less screen time at night. Or even just adjusting what you are watching or reading before bed, because you notice the darker stuff gives you horrible dreams. Perhaps you’re oversleeping, so you decide to set an alarm, and wake up an hour earlier each day.
Check in. Notice how you feel. Adjust accordingly. That’s wellness.
How we fuel ourselves is so important. Not just the food we eat, but the water we drink, the media we consume…everything! I purposely didn’t label this step diet, because not only is that word straight up triggering for a lot of people- but also, that word gives off the idea that you have to eat a specific way in order to practice wellness. And that’s just untrue.
The best way to eat in order to achieve your wellness goals is intuitively. If you’re unsure where to start, check out my post on intuitive eating to get started. I feel comfortable making a blanket statement like “the best way to eat in order to achieve your wellness goals is intuitively,” because it provides very individual results.
Now, let’s talk about water. Water, like food, keeps us alive. So, do you feel like you’re drinking enough water every day? How can you tell when you haven’t had enough? Or when you’ve had too much? Check in.
I’m not going to lie, I love LMNT salts, and I drink them daily. However, if you personally don’t notice a difference when you add electrolytes, then save your money and don’t use them! Remember, you’re noticing what works, and leaving the rest.
Movement can contribute to our physical, mental, and emotional well being. It can also become obsessive, and all-consuming- which has the opposite effect on our wellbeing. Rather than becoming fixated on numbers, distances, and calories burned- focus on how you feel when you move your body.
If you follow me on IG, then you see my put a poll up in my story all the time asking you if you’ve moved lovingly yet today. Not asking you if you’ve moved. But if you’ve moved lovingly. Recognizing that sometimes the loving movement for the day is actually slower and shorter, with longer time to rest. Loving movement is meant to nourish you, rather than moving from that place of punishment, restriction, or earning.
Now is the time to honestly check in with your movement patterns. Are you exercising too much? Not enough? Or are you juuuuuust right?
I totally get that it can be hard to start a movement practice when you’re pressed for time, or if you’ve just been off your movement game for awhile, and don’t know where to start. Two resources that can help you:
- My post on adding more movement into your day.
- No Time For Yoga Series that has daily, 15 minute classes for all levels.
For my over-exercisers out there, I get it. I can fall in that category too when I’m not doing my best. The best thing you can do is slow down. Soften. Listen to your body, rather than push your body. Movement can be medicine, but only in the right doses.
Phew, relationships can be tricky. Simple as that. Our wellness levels are directly connected to our relationships, because- yes, even the most introverted people out there (like me)- we are still social creatures. We’re meant to be in relation with others, and we’re forced to on a daily basis. We have work relationships, family, friends, partners, kids, so on and so on.
Some of these relationships might be within our control to change, and others- not so much. Like, you hate your boss, but you really need a job to keep your belly full, and a roof over your head. Sure, it’s easier to say something like, “just do whatever makes you happy…follow your heart!” But, the truth is, that’s not always practical, and can even lead to lower wellness levels because of the aftermath of stress.
On the other hand, some relationships are very much in our control to leave.
Even if it’s sad, or scary, or hard to imagine. It’s that feeling deep in your stomach that you’ve been ignoring. That’s your intuition talking to you, and you’ve been ignoring it. Overriding ourselves in that way can certainly deteriorate our wellness levels. So listen.
And then there’s a whole lot of relationships that are in between. Just because something is hard, doesn’t mean you have to cut it off. Sometimes it’s about improving communication, having the hard conversation, observing attachment styles, releasing your own people pleasing tendencies, or having stronger boundaries.
The point is, we need community. And, ideally, a community that’s supportive and uplifting. That doesn’t mean they’re perfect, it doesn’t mean it won’t get hard sometimes- it just means that on a soul level you can just BE when you’re with these people.
Take inventory of your relationships. Do you need to try harder with some people? Do you need to back off with others? Have you been a good listener to your partner? Have you communicated your needs to your parents? Notice, and adjust as needed.
You might have already picked up on the mindfulness that’s been sprinkled throughout this post. Every step prompts you to check in. That check in is mindfulness. Mindfulness can be really simple if you let it. It doesn’t have to be you seated like a pretzel levitating off the ground in a meditative state. But rather, just the act of observation, instead.
I wrote this post to prompt you to check in with these areas, because these are the simplest ways for us to achieve optimal wellness in a holistic manner- mind, body, and heart. However, without the check in component- it’s impossible! What’s even more important is that you’re honest with yourself as you check in.
This means noticing your best tendencies, as well as the areas where you can do better. It means not letting shame win, and accepting yourself wholly as the beautifully flawed human that you are.
As an example, say you have a disordered relationship with food and exercise, but you claim you’re doing it in the name of HEALTH. Within an honest check in, you might continue down that path, out of fear of admitting that no…you’re not perfect after all. It’s scary to admit. Even if it’s just silently to ourselves. I get it. But it’s also the only way the pattern will ever have the possibility of changing. How can we change something we won’t even acknowledge to be true?
Mindfulness is just noticing. Observing.
Sometimes this observation comes with action, and sometimes it doesn’t. What I mean is, say you notice that you’re hungry, but you don’t let yourself eat, because you think you need to fast for a certain number of hours between meals. You notice the disordered eating pattern enter, but you still don’t let yourself eat until you hit the hour mark you’re after. You still notice it. Maybe at the next meal, you will listen more to your body.
Or, you notice you’re hungry, and the disordered eating pattern, so you eat even though it’s not the “right amount of time” yet. Mindfulness is what helped you to start the process of undoing the pattern.
When it comes to being well, it’s important to give yourself grace, to accept those things that you cannot change, and to know that balance is a verb, not a destination.
Real wellness is about allowing yourself to be, and to love yourself through it, while supporting your layers with the most basic human needs like sleep, nourishment, movement, and relationships. That’s it. We don’t have to overcomplicate it.
You’ve got this, my friends.