Is your wellness regime causing you anxiety?
By Celine Wallace
Wellness Expert and Founder of Sattva Soul Retreats
This is a funny one to write about, especially after creating a business that encourages women to put their individual health and wellness at the forefront of their lives. I came across this question the other day in my personal life and with some clients, so I thought what better way to address it than making it the first post on Sattva's blog.
First, let's start by asking ourselves some questions - Are you a person who refuses to accept any standard short of perfection? Do you continually put pressure on yourself to perform and have trouble moderating your habits? Are you all or nothing in life? Are you your own worst critic? If you answered yes to most of these then theirs a good chance you're a perfectionist. Don't' worry, I am too.
Perfectionism is something that is linked to anxiety, and that comes from a feeling or need to over-achieve, with the tension arising from a fear of failure.
Don't get me wrong, there's absolutely nothing wrong with setting high standards for ourselves, in fact – we should, nobody wants a ho-hum life, but concern creeps in if we knock ourselves with self-evaluations and negative self-talk regarding others opinions and if our standards don't meet our expectations. It's easy to think of being a perfectionist in our careers, finances or relationships, but it's actually also possible to be a perfectionist in our wellness regime too. Wild thought isn't it!
As a wellness expert, yoga and meditation teacher I have a to-do list of daily practices that I check off before I even leave the house in the morning – and, these grow exponentially by the week, month and year into a Rolodex of standards to live by. Standards of wellbeing that I implement to live better and share with those who I know could benefit, but at the end of the day, its all about moderation and perspective. More demands = more stress. Ask yourself, how do I feel after I do my morning meditation, zen and relaxed or stressed out that I won't get to work on time? If your answer is the latter, then there's an answer. Something has to change because stress is not our friend.
We all want to be good at everything we do. Nobody wants to be terrible at anything, and that includes meditating, so if our perfectionism translates into our wellness regime, then we need to scale it back. There is actually a name for this - ‘Performative Wellness.' ‘Performative Wellness' is when the rituals and habits we embraced to make our life better, instead of stress us out. Our anxiety is increased by the added self-care routines we have to find time for, then our bodies go into fight or flight mode, our cortisol levels spike, our thyroid slows down, and we start getting headaches and gaining weight. All of a sudden all these added wellness habits in our daily routine are actually making our lives worse. This has happened to me on and off through my wellness journey, so whenever I start to feel like I'm taking on too much I step back and evaluate my routine by asking myself, ‘Is this loving for me, right now?'
For so many people this year, my clients mentioned this too, that the line between effective self-care and the real anxiety triggers (as in, just another thing on your already-jammed to-do list) and it's blurrier than ever before. I want to encourage all my Sattva Soulers for 2019 to simplify, simplify, simplify. And get that wellness-loving mojo back.
In a world that is already crazed with self-love sharing Instagram posts with hashtags #selflove #selfcare #wellbeing #wellness being plentiful on social media – AND, no judgment either, I'm guilty of doing the same. To a certain degree, we have to make sure we are honoring ourselves and not making self-care a fetish about checking boxes, keeping up standards, and yet not knowing why we're doing what we're doing.
If you find yourself obsessing over the ‘correct way' to self-care, and feel like crap consistently after it then it's generally a big red flag and sign to stop.
I did this recently and went through my wellness to-do list, and it was a huge realization that I was overdoing things and needed to scale it back. Getting up at 5am to sage my room, meditate, read my angel cards for the day, practice some yoga and drink my ceremonial grade Matcha almond milk latte, it's laughable now but it was exhausting, and it wasn't serving me. Self-care is about self-preservation and loving ourselves not doing things that we think we should be doing and the social pressures around wellness.
I think it's a beautiful thing that the wellness industry has created space for improved mental health, yes, but it's also morphed into just another way to be perfect — "like it's easy to have the perfect diet, perfect body, and yes — even the perfect self-care routine." So, this is a friendly reminder that your self-care routine doesn't have to look like anyone else's. It doesn't need to have a hashtag. It just needs to be whatever makes you feel good. No two people are the same, so why would your self-care routine be?
I genuinely think self-care isn't about perfecting or mastering a specific wellness regime, but having the tools and knowledge to be able to wake up in the morning and ask yourself ‘How do I feel today? What do I need to be the best version of myself?' and constantly adapting and changing the wellness tools you use to aid and adapt to the ebbs and flows of life. Tomorrow, when you wake up, I encourage you to ask yourself ‘Is this adding to my life or taking away from it?' Take time to replenish your spirit and find out what it needs, because as I'm sure you've heard a million times - you cannot serve yourself or others from an empty vessel - after all, that's what self-care is all about – self-care.