How often do you find yourself convinced you’ve got a problem that needs fixing when it comes to your wellbeing? Maybe we’re not exercising enough, but feel like we have to train for marathons to be seen as doing enough. Maybe we’ve been dealing with a lot of stress or anxiety that we need to get rid of. Whatever it is you think you need to work on for your wellbeing, we’ve got a secret to share with you so keep reading…
When it comes to improving our wellbeing, or working on ourselves, or managing our mental health, there’s a lot of pressure to find the ‘cure’, the ‘fix’, the magic recipe that will banish our problems and allow us to live happily ever after. But the thing is, wellbeing doesn’t work like true love’s kiss in a Disney movie. Sadly.
You likely knew that much, but can you beat through the advice and false promises that much of the wellbeing industry has fed us over the last few years? When you’re reading the latest article about finding happiness or the perfect diet (which absolutely doesn’t exist) are you able to remind yourself that just because a psychologist contributed, or it worked for one person, or ‘millions of people have benefited’, it doesn’t mean it’s definitely going to work for you or get rid of your worries and woes?
The term we’re using to define this concept is cure culture. This culture in the wellbeing industry promises to have us feeling great all the time, or to try this new method because it was the only thing that ever worked for one person. This culture is misleading and leaves many of us feeling utterly rubbish when we can’t stick to new habits, or self-improvements. When we still find ourselves struggling to jump out of bed even though we had 8 hours sleep, used the latest CBD product and are taking vitamin D supplements, we become disappointed.
Let us tell you a secret
These claims are taking advantage of us being vulnerable and wanting to improve ourselves. They sell us this idea that we need to change things (which granted many of us do, and do need to learn to manage our mental wellbeing) but what they don’t tell you is that it’s ok for things to go wrong! We all have bad days and feel terribly anxious even when we’ve done all the ‘right’ things.
They lead us to believe that negative emotions, challenges, disappointment, grief, stress, are so inherently bad and that we should never experience them. And here’s the real kicker, they sell us products, ideas, apps, advice, that claim to ‘fix’ those issues for you. When we try them out, we find our problems don’t all magically disappear and we’re left feeling like we did something wrong, we aren’t good enough for them to work, we didn’t try hard enough, or we are not able to be helped.
When it comes to wellbeing, there is not one answer, route or way to make improvements. There’s no such thing as a quick fix, and this culture of ‘curing’ is damaging. So here’s some reminders for you, when navigating your wellbeing journey.
3 reminders when working on your wellbeing
It takes practice.
I know it’s not the speedy changes we’d like to believe can happen. It’s a process that takes time to build up. New routines, habits, methods, take time to, a) see results from and b) to become regular. Rushing in and hoping for overnight results will leave you feeling let down. When you see something that you think you want to try, take it easy and slowly build that practice.
It takes patience.
And buckets of it! There’s so much advice out there it’s impossible to instantly know what’s going to work you and what isn’t. The more we understand about ourselves (our emotions, thoughts and behaviours specifically) the easier it is to pick out what to try. But even then, we’ll find that it doesn’t always suit us, it doesn’t fit our lifestyle, and maybe we absolutely hate doing it - even when on paper it sounds perfect.
Take a pinch of salt.
Not literally, we don’t need to practice adding more salt to our meals to know that ain’t good for us. But the tips, tricks, skills, lessons to learn and build into our routines don’t need to be taken as literally as they are put. For example, needing to work out more. We typically associate a ‘workout’ with the gym - but a workout is anything that’s getting your body moving, heart pumping, and maybe get a dab on (and not sweltering in these glorious heat waves doesn’t count if you're lounging on a sun bed, sorry!). It might be doing a spot of gardening or some cleaning jobs around the house, because it’s all you’ve got time or energy for today. Other days it might be a long run through the park or a slow yoga flow. The point is, take the advice and adapt it to your lifestyle and your needs.
When we’re working to make improvements, getting outside our comfort zones is key but it doesn’t mean we have to leap to olympic medal standards, or do things exactly as they suggested, or even get so far out the zone that we get lost. Small, manageable changes are what maintains and improves our wellbeing - in whatever area you’d like to focus on most.
Toxic cultures: There are a few toxic cultures floating around in our society these days, from cure culture to hustle culture. These are damaging for our mental health because we believe we aren’t good enough when we aren’t fulfilling them too - even when they don’t align with us or suit us at all. Don’t give in to toxic cultures, and you do you. After all, it’s your wellbeing journey, no one else's.