Wellness and wellbeing have become real buzz words in recent years, and their rise in popularity is long overdue. Whether we’re talking about healthy eating, physical wellness or all-important psychological wellbeing, there are campaigns and hashtags popping up for pretty much every occasion.
The thing with “wellness” as a concept is that it’s not always as easily achieved as Instagram would have us all believe. People’s minds and bodies all work in different ways, and what makes one person feel on top of the world might have little to no effect on the next.
It’s also important to acknowledge that a lot of the time if you’re feeling particularly down in the dumps or lacking in energy, you probably don’t want to get out of bed and do some nice colouring, or yoga, or make a murky green smoothie. You probably just want to make yourself into a duvet burrito and revel in it, and sometimes that is totally fine.
The following ideas are a few things you can try and do that are more everyday habits than one-off quick fixes, but seeing as wellness is an ongoing project and not a one time thing, that’s probably for the best.
Stop overriding your body
You know when you’re really hungry, but you’re part way through something at work so you just try to ignore it until you’re done? Or you’re out at a bar with friends and you’ve been holding in a wee for a good half an hour because you don’t want to miss a juicy bit of the conversation?
That’s overriding your body. There are plenty of examples I could give, but pretty much everyone will have points in every single day of their lives where their body is screaming for something and they feel like they have to ignore it, or they think it’s better to ignore it. Stop ignoring it!
Getting up and stretching when you start to ache or taking five minutes away from a screen when your eyes get tired are tiny things that make a big difference. Make it a habit to start doing what your body needs and you will quite literally feel better for it.
2. Learn to take compliments*
I’m half Irish and half English, which means in the past I’ve been as good at doling out compliments as I’ve been bad at taking them. Maybe it’s because I’m British, but generally speaking I find that a lot of people cannot take a compliment. You tell someone their hair looks great or their outfit looks awesome and they feel that they have to respond by telling you you’re wrong, because it’s deeply ingrained into a lot of people’s minds that to admit that you know you look really good that day makes you an arrogant wanker.
The problem with rejecting compliments is that it makes the person complimenting you feel a bit rejected themselves, and can lead into an awkward spiral of them trying to reassure you that you aren’t a hideous beast and then wishing they’d never said anything in the first place.
Learn to take compliments. Saying thanks rather than putting yourself down lets you revel in that little pick-me-up moment, and means the person who wanted you to feel good can feel like they achieved that and get a little pick-me-up of their own.
*The exception to this rule is if the compliment is actually not a compliment but more a bout of sexual harassment, like someone shouting “nice arse” at you across a road. In that case, I’d highly recommend gesturing at them with your middle finger, or setting a pack of wolves upon them – whichever you feel is the easiest.
3. Switch off for a section of the day
As far as ‘easy’ things to do goes, for a lot of us this is probably the hardest – but it doesn’t have to be a huge thing. Pick a chunk of the day to keep your phone on aeroplane mode and do something in that time that keeps your mind away from social media and other digital involvement.
It could be 30 minutes when you get home from work to have a cup of tea and a conversation, it could be for an hour while you cook dinner or two hours while you read a book – whatever is easy is the best place to start, and if the temporary switch-off makes your head feel a little lighter for a little while, look at extending the amount of time you’re unplugged for as time goes on. It gives you a chance to be more “present in the moment” and less of a spectator in your own day.
4. Feed your soul (via your stomach)
When you’re a kid, people tell you to drink plenty of water and eat at least five portions of fruit and veg a day. When you’re an adult, you laugh about how infrequently you do either of those things. What you fuel your body with has a big impact on how you feel overall, from sugary-drink dehydration to sluggish post-junk-food bloat.
I am a big junk food lover, and have to really fight myself sometimes to go and get healthier options for lunch or snacks – even though I KNOW I’ll enjoy them, which makes it extra stupid. But ditching fizzy drinks in favour of fizzy water and cordial, and swapping out a packet of crisps for a handful of peanuts, are relatively simple switches that help your body feel better and thus, help your head feel better too.
Anyone who knows me knows I’ll never be an advocate of eating nothing but raw, organic wholefoods – not least because sometimes, treating yourself to a killer takeout is just the thing you need to cheer you up. Rather than feeling like you have to replace all your treats with celery sticks, think of healthy food and junk food as a sliding scale.
Think about where your snacks sit on that scale, and try and replace some of them with an alternative a few steps closer to the healthier end.
Oh, and drink the two litres of water a day! Fill up a water bottle and make a point of working your way through it a couple of time as the day goes on – hydration is cool, yo.
5. Keep things tidy
Is it “tidy home, tidy mind”? Tidy desk, tidy mind? I can’t remember but basically, tidy things = tidy mind. So said somebody once, who turned out to be right.
Whether it’s using desk organisers to keep your workspace clear or taking a few seconds to put your clothes away, or in the laundry, instead of on the floor and scattered across your furniture, being able to enjoy your spaces clear of mess can help your headspace feel clearer too.
Get into the habit of putting things anywhere other than “literally all over the place” and revel in the glory of feeling like an organised motherlover.
As ever, I’d love to hear your suggestions – what are your easy everyday habits that make a difference? Let me know in the comments below!