A woman meditating

Are your wellbeing habits making you feel worse? These 4 simple wellness tips actually work

Posted by for Wellbeing

We’ve all fallen for wellness trends, some more weird or risky than others. So why do none of us actually feel well? 

The word ‘wellness’ conjures images of sunrise yoga and green juice. That’s the side of wellness we see on social media and that we feel under pressure to perform. Who are you if you’re not taking CBD drops and walking barefoot through the grass at 6am?

But new research suggests that these wellness trends leave most of us feeling worse off. According to travel brand TUI Blue, 86% of people suspect that the activities we’re told will make us feel better may not actually help our physical or mental health at all.

More than a third of us feel like failures for not maintaining stereotypical wellness habits, which we put down to the fact that social media influencers make sticking to a strict routine look so easy. 

So what really makes us well?

Surprise: it’s not the chlorophyll water that TikTok tells you will make your skin glow and boost your energy. TUI Blue found that a simple walk in nature was the number one thing to lift your mood – something plenty of studies have confirmed. And according to research commissioned by Stylist, spending time with loved ones, having ‘me-time’ and being outside were the wellness activities people find actually improve their health.

We’ve also found that, despite 70% of women wanting a wellness routine, only 14% have one they are happy with. That could be because lots of us stick to trends we don’t like – whether that’s drinking apple cider vinegar on an empty stomach, or getting purposely stung by bees (yes, really). So, why is there such a disconnect between what we do and what we need? 

A woman walking through a wheat field at sunset
Being in nature is actually the best thing for your wellness

“The way we rest, nourish, connect with others and align with ourselves impacts how healthy and happy we feel. There can be a lot of societal pressure on what wellness should look like, which for many people can be demotivating,” says therapist and wellness expert Tasha Bailey.

“In reality, wellness is a personal journey, and the same wellness tools don’t work for everyone. Instead, we need to create a personalised strategy to fit our unique emotional and physical needs.”

Triyoga teacher and founder of Just Breathe, Michael James Wong, tells Stylist that our obsession with following trends that don’t serve us is down to the fact that “humans are results-driven, even when it comes to our wellbeing. Often we can find a quick fix or a short-term solution for a long-term need.

“I’ve always believed that wellness means ‘willingness to do the work’, and when it comes to our health and wellbeing, we must look to building meaningful habits and creating positive and consistent practices for life. 

“This is why things like yoga, meditation, walking, therapy and the right nutrition will always outlast any quick fix fad or wellness trend. In fact, our wellbeing isn’t something that needs a solution, it is in fact quite the opposite: an ongoing lifestyle, a continuous celebration and refinement of how we live.”

How to find ‘real’ wellness

Make it simple

“Wellness is about intentionally looking after ourselves,” says Bailey. “This is a practice that needs to be holistic, paying attention to our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health. When life throws daily stresses and challenges our way, it creates a barrier between us and our optimal wellness, so to avoid burnout, boredom and fatigue, we need to integrate wellness practices into our everyday routine.” 

That means finding activities you can actually stick to, such as walking or putting your phone away when you’re with your loved ones. You’ll probably feel better for that than you will if you focus your energy on impossible, hours-long meditation sessions.

Find what works for you

As Bailey says, wellness isn’t a one size fits all – so if you hate the thought of being alone in nature, don’t do it.

“Some people feel energised by exciting or vigorous activity, whereas others will feel refreshed by more restful self-care practices like meditation,” she adds. Set aside time to really check in with how you feel after certain activities to see whether they are nourishing or depleting, and you’ll begin to get a picture of what ‘works’ for you. 

Make it flexible

“With our needs constantly changing, wellness tools need to be flexible and continuously reassessed, trying out new forms of self-care and accessing the old patterns that no longer work for us,” says Bailey.

Rigid plans don’t work for anyone – even those social media influencers who make it look like they thrive off them. Remember, it’s about finding activities that fit into your life.

Stop looking for solutions 

“As they always say, ‘The greatest things in life aren’t things,’” says Wong. “They’re people, they’re places, it’s a walk with a friend, it’s someone to talk to, it’s a feeling of belonging. More often than not, happiness is a who, where and when, not a what.”

Images: Getty

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Chloe Gray

Chloe Gray is the senior writer for stylist.co.uk's fitness brand Strong Women. When she's not writing or lifting weights, she's most likely found practicing handstands, sipping a gin and tonic or eating peanut butter straight out of the jar (not all at the same time).