I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I don’t actually meditate every single day of the year.
My normal routine is to meditate first thing in the morning right after I wake up. Sometimes I meditate for 10 minutes and if I have a little extra time, it might be 30. But, quite often, on a Sunday I let the meditation go.
I’m often not working on a Sunday so I tend to stay in bed a little longer reading or chatting to my husband, or letting Taz come upstairs for a puppy cuddle. We then tend to go for a nice long walk somewhere in nature. One of the (many) reasons I meditate is for my mental health and stress management, but having a quiet day at home to rest is actually also hugely important for this – and so I’m very happy not to feel like I HAVE to meditate religiously when I get benefits from other gentle activities in my life.
The other reason I mention this is that genuine wellbeing is NOT about a pursuit for perfection.
Sometimes we can beat ourselves up with a wellbeing stick and rather than wellness-based activities being healthy and nourishing, they become another source of stress and anxiety.
As someone who has perfectionist streak, I’ve spent the last few years really trying to unpick this tendency and not let it create a series of ‘shoulds’ when it comes to my health and wellbeing.
Wellbeing is not about having the ‘right’ body, taking part in a ‘perfect’ exercise regime just because that’s what everyone else seems to be doing or forcing yourself to eat porridge for breakfast if you really don’t like it.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the Insta-ready shiny-shiny side of the wellness and think there’s just one way to do wellbeing. Or to think that if you don’t have that look or that body then it’s not for you. Nothing could be further from the truth!
It’s actually much more about finding a set of sustainable habits and routines that help you feel more resilient, aware, stronger and, yes, happy.
And you don’t need to spend a fortune on green smoothies to get yourself in a happier and healthier place.
What is wellbeing?
But let’s take a step back and look at what wellbeing is. I think the WHO definition of health is a great place to start.
Health and wellbeing aren’t just about the absence of ill health – or being happy all the time. It’s actually a blend of three elements: mental, physical and social wellbeing. And they are all interconnected.
Mental wellbeing includes mental health, mental energy, self-compassion and experiencing a full range of emotions. It’s also in how we react to things. An important part of our positive mental wellbeing is having purpose and meaning, and feeling like we can develop and grow. What this looks like is different for different people.
Physical wellbeing is about a happy and balanced body, with the right strength and nourishment for you at different stages of life. Moving your body is key (and about finding movement you enjoy) and considering what you put into your body (i.e. food and drink). It’s also about taking time to rest and recover.
Last but not least, social wellbeing covers the way we connect with others as we are innately drawn to being part of a community – and this applies even to introverts. It doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your own company, but a sense of wider connection is an important part of growth and flourishing.
It’s then about making an allowance for the natural flow of the seasons, during the year and also your life. Different aspects of the three elements will be more pertinent at these different times. Your personal sense of balance and wellbeing is not one fixed thing.
Wellbeing does NOT have to mean…
– getting up at 5.00am for an hour of meditation
– eating plate loads of kale (though I do personally kinda like a bit of crispy kale, but not too much as it gives me a sore tum)
– being able to do a headstand
– being able to run a marathon
…unless these are things you want to do of course and ultimately help you feel good. It also does not mean being happy all the time. Wellbeing encompasses feeling a full range of emotions.
Wellbeing comes in all shapes, sizes and packages so I suggest coming at it gently with compassion and kindness to discover what works best for you. And then taking a Sunday off every now and then if you need to!