The world of wellness is a bit like the wild wild west at the moment; a wave of influencers, Instagram ‘experts’ and sponsored content, means we’re receiving a huge amount of information and advice on health & wellbeing, much of it being misinformed, irresponsible and unachievable. So we wanted to bust some of the myths that might be floating around out there about wellness and present a more balanced view on the subject.
Myth number one:
Your diet must be clean, colourful and refined sugar-free ALL OF THE TIME (with the occasional ‘cheat day’ in there)
This is just not realistic and if this is your expectation of yourself, you’re going to feel like a failure. Yes we always encourage eating a wide range of fruits and vegetables and eating food that makes you feel good, but if you have a few biscuits in the afternoon or a chocolate bar after dinner, it doesn’t make you a bad person. It also doesn’t make you an ‘unhealthy person’, it just makes you human.
Myth number two:
That there’s a destination of ‘perfect health’ to reach
I’m not going to say ‘wellbeing is a journey’ as that’s far too cliché, but you are unlikely to reach a point where you feel in ‘perfect health’ – where you feel full of energy, free of illness, where you’re exercising five days a week and eating well most days. And if that does happen, it’s unlikely to last very long, before you ‘fall off the wagon’ somewhere again. Welcome to life. It’s messy and fast-paced and sometimes stressful, which means you may never reach that destination of ‘perfect health’. The quicker we accept this, the easier it will be to maintain a realistic, healthy lifestyle that rejects the idea of perfection and instead just aims to do our best with where we’re at at the time.
Myth number three:
Keeping in good health is easy if you’re just disciplined enough
Ok let’s cut straight to the chase; this complete rubbish and can stay in the accounts of the #fitspo & #mondaymotivation crew on Instagram. Keeping in great health is not easy in this day and age. We were designed for an environment where food was sparse, which means we are biologically driven to seek out and eat food. Back when we were hunter-gatherers we did not have access to huge warehouses stuffed to the rafters with foods of all different kinds. There was no Deliveroo to deliver your Friday night pizza and there wasn’t an array of tempting goods to indulge in, every time you bought your morning coffee. Our modern world is problematic, because it is so far removed from the environment we were designed to live in. This stuff is hard. Not impossible (and not also not a reason to completely let ourselves off the hook when it comes to looking after our health) but difficult nevertheless. It takes work and also a self-compassionate approach. Beating ourselves up for being weak-willed or lacking in discipline, will only result in us feeling worse about ourselves and research shows it’s not likely to motivate us to action either.
Myth number four:
Wellbeing looks a certain way
Health and wellbeing is not determined by the outer package, though a bombardment of images portraying people with a healthy lifestyle, will tell you otherwise. You know the ones; the women with the slim figures, luminous skin, glistening white smiles and luscious thick hair. I’ll let you into a secret, this isn’t what ‘health’ looks like. Sure, it can look like that, but healthy bodies can come in all different packages; they don’t always fit into this one ideal that we are sold by the media. It’s important to remember these images are used to sell us something; the latest supplements, protein powder or ‘superfood’. If we just buy this product, we too, can have a slim figure, luminous skin and luscious, thick hair. We have been conditioned to believe that slim = healthy, but that’s not always the case. There are many different measures of health, it’s never just about what we can see.
Myth number five:
You operate in a zen-like state 24/7
Maybe if you live in a remote monastery somewhere in the hills of Thailand this might be possible. But for us mere mortals, trying to navigate a modern life of tight deadlines, family commitments & train delays, a permanent state of zen is probably out of reach. So don’t beat yourself up. Take a deep breath, take a moment, do you what you need to do and get back to it. Remember tomorrow is a new day…
If you’re following social media accounts that are leading you to believe you’re failing in life or generally making you feel bad about your life choices, remember you’re just one click away from an unfollow. The key to wellness is just doing your best most days – some days we need to hit the gym, other days we need a hot bath and a Netflix marathon. Remember there is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to wellness.