Does it ever feel like you’re either so on your wellness game that you’re radiating positivity and rainbows or you’re sitting on the couch binging Netflix for an entire weekend amongst strewn about takeout containers, not entirely sure if you showered yesterday (or wait, was that Friday)?
Welcome to the new world of wellness burnout (that’s not an actual phrase, but I must admit in reading it back, I might trademark it).
We live in a culture where positivity memes and glowing, blonde, and perfectly toned green juice drinkers lurk around every corner, seemingly waiting to shame us for that late-night dollar slice we indulged in or the week we took off from the gym.
While reminders to stay positive and the tips and tricks on healthy eating can be refreshing and enlightening, they can also be overwhelming—and can actually have the opposite effect on us than intended.
Think about your current self-care routine, assuming you have one. If you don’t, no shame, we’ll get to some things you can try below.
How much of your routine feels soul-enriching and invigorating, like you can’t wait to give it to yourself, and how much of it feels like a list of shoulds, just more items on your already overflowing to-do list?
Self-care isn’t supposed to be all bubble baths, mani/pedis, treat yo’ self shopping trips, or a perfectly balanced vegan diet. Those things are all great, and if you can realistically include them in your daily life, amazing. But for the majority of people out there they can also be unattainable (maybe through lack of time, funds, understanding, or resources) and thus, defeating.
Let’s start with the real definition of self-care.
It’s about preventative behaviors that are beneficial to our overall physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being, such as eating well, exercising, getting enough sleep, and drinking enough water.
But, it’s also things like inner reflection and growth, setting healthy boundaries in our relationships (like learning to say “no”), spending time in nature, keeping our space organized and feeling uncluttered, and challenging ourselves to learn and explore new topics that make us uncomfortable, or to think about something in a new way.
Now, armed with that understanding of what self-care actually is, can you go back through that list you made earlier and reevaluate some of the things in your routine? Are there any that actually feel more like self-indulgence than self-care? Or, feel like things you actually can’t stand doing but you feel like you should be doing?
It’s important for us to enjoy our wellness routine, otherwise, it won’t stick.
If you hate going to the gym alone but like taking group classes, then sign up for ClassPass and start exploring all the different options in your area. Bounce around studios taking advantage of the “free month” and “first three classes free” options until you find something that gives you a tug of desire.
If the idea of a vegan diet makes you hungry just thinking about it, commit to eating a minimum of two to three servings of greens sprinkled throughout your day in other ways, or even commit to a full #meatlessmonday every week.
If you’re noticing a toxic pattern in your relationships, take five minutes each evening to reflect on your interactions, owning your part in the toxicity and thinking about what positive behavioral changes you can make moving forward.
If you’ve heard yourself say out loud that you’re too anxious or too busy to meditate, set a timer on your phone to go off three times a day and for three minutes, stop whatever you’re doing and take a few mindful breaths. Notice where in your body you feel tightness or tension, and then look around at your environment taking in the sights, sounds, and smells in great detail.
Remember, managing your wellness and self-care should be something woven throughout your day, in bite-sized and realistic pieces that fill you up. It’s not something only achievable by yogis who have unlimited time and resources to meditate for hours on a silk cushion in Bali.
What fills up your soul? What gets you excited? What sparks curiosity and joy? Start there and then expand it.
And for your own sake, don’t believe everything the wellness influencers on Instagram post. They most definitely have days where they don’t shower or have stress meltdowns or stuff their faces with ice cream (even if it’s vegan). It’s called having balance.
Vanessa Bennett is an Associate Psychotherapist, Mindfulness Coach, Writer, Yogi, and seeker who lives in Los Angeles. Her 10 years working the frantic NYC corporate life caused her own burnout which inspired her to slow down, reconnect to her soul, and change her path to one of helping others find the same reconnection to self. You can find her on her Instagram or her website.