My friend and I have an Instagram message thread titled, “Why does wellness have to be so…wellnessy?” where we share photos we come across of wellness portrayed with the most unrealistic standards.
I’m talking beautiful green tonics surrounded by posed crystal stones meant to enhance the health and wellbeing of the arranger as part of an essential morning routine. A bright pink smoothie bowl with edible f-ing flower petals in it suggested as a great pre-work energy booster. (My pre-work energy boost is sprinting to catch the bus from 3 blocks away holding my Tupperware).
Please don’t get me wrong though, this is nothing against those individuals, their intent, their rituals, and what lights them up at all. Honestly, I am one (I’m drinking a matcha latte as I type this). I am not in the business of passing judgement on anyone’s….. anything really.
What’s the phrase, “Don’t go sweeping other people’s front porch before you sweep your own?”
I’ve been known to burn sage and Palo Santo before client meetings, drink the greenest of juices, meditate for abundance, almost weep over the beauty of a watermelon radish, and drink coffee with butter and “brain tonic” so I’m as much of a wellness warrior as they come, and I’m damn proud of it.
I wonder, though, how these unrealistic and over the top portrayals of wellness are affecting the ability of people to understand and buy into the simple idea of caring for one’s self.
We live in a world where it’s already difficult to feed ourselves with real, nutrient dense food every day and get enough real rest and sleep. We do not need the idea of health and wellness to be out of reach as well.
It’s already overwhelming to even know what the heck to eat every day to be “healthy.” There is so much conflicting dietary advice out there. Is fat bad for you? Whole grains, those are good right? Should I go gluten free or is that fake? What about cutting out dairy? Will matcha make me live to be 110? OMG do I have a leaky gut? It can be overwhelming and contradictory and make it seemingly impossible to make good choices.
Wellness is not the latest fad.
You do not have to drink mushroom coffee and stuff crystals in your underwear to heal (although, you can if that works for you).
Wellness is listening to what your body is telling you. I used to think that meant I would actually hear a little voice saying “Christina, I’ve had enough rosé, please, please stop,” and then I would be like “Ohhh sorry little guy! This was just a first date and I was realllly nervous, I didn’t even know you noticed!”
Turns out it’s not that. I guess it’s more paying attention to your body and the subtle cues it gives when it needs more or less of something. It’s also investigating the root cause of what’s going on rather than masking the symptoms with a pill or by ignoring them all together.
For example, if you have a headache what is your first response? Grab the Advil, get rid of the pain, keep on going. What might be more valuable in the long run is to notice the headache and think about the underlying reasons why you might have it. Giant hangover? Ok that’s an easy one. Majorly dehydrated? Under lots of stress and having tension build up? Not sleeping?
Find the one that applies to you and give your body what it’s asking you for. Prioritize drinking lots of water (especially if you take in a lot of caffeine), take breaks and remember to breathe to manage stress, investigate causes of sleep disturbance and try to remedy them.
That is what wellness and healing looks like, and it’s completely different for every single one of us.
It’s amazing how immune we can become to these subtle cues and how they can build up to massive imbalances and disease over time. I work at a giant public hospital most days, I see how this plays out in big ways. I’ve also been immune myself. We need to tune in so we can course correct before things get really bad.
I was once told by one of my clients that if I had a superpower it would be “Listening to my body,” and I was like ugh that sucks I’d way rather have superhuman strength or atmokinesis (controlling the weather, duh), but if that’s what I get, ok fine.
Now I’m pretty into that superpower. Paying attention to your body and what it needs is the key to everything. It’s what has allowed me to heal from autoimmune disease, know what to eat on a daily basis to feel good and energized, and to navigate this crazy world we live in with at least some grace and ease despite getting pulled in many different directions every day. I share this only because I don’t want you to get discouraged in your pursuit of health.
If you are trying to make changes and be healthy and not feel overwhelmed, confused or annoyed all you need to do is start is the process of paying attention. That’s it. Oh and eat some vegetables too. Maybe then have a matcha latte with the most beautiful smoothie bowl the world has ever seen. Your body will tell you that though 😉
If want to talk more about this whole “paying attention” thing, feel free to email me! I’d love to hear from you.
Originally published on LiveWell. Christina Tidwell is a critical care trained Registered Nurse specialized in cardiac care and management of long-term chronic illness as well as a Certified Holistic Health Coach trained at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and a Certified Autoimmune Paleo Coach.
Images via Allison Wu [wuhaus.com]