Are wellness trends a load of BS? I did 1 a day to test the theory
The obsession with wellness is one of the defining characteristics of 21st century life. Us millennials are constantly bombarded with tips, hacks, lifestyle changes and diets to help us live our best lives. While I’m so down for the wellness movement in theory, in reality my current self-care routine consists of a takeaway and a long shower.
But for one week, I lived out the wellness trends that have created a buzz on everyone’s lips. From smashing cakes to snuggling up, here’s what went down…
Destruction therapy is exactly what you’d expect: destroying things because it’s therapeutic. We’ve all had those days where we’ve had the urge to smash something, so having the permission to do so, I hoped, would make me feel free (because sometimes a stress ball just doesn’t cut it). I spent some time deliberating on what I would smash: Crockery? No, too precious. I could smash an egg, but I do that all the time by accident anyway. Then, it came to me: I’d smash a cake. I headed to the shop and bought a pack of my favourite cakes: french fancies.
Pretty and multicoloured, I arranged them on a plate. Buying myself cakes was a rare treat, and something was stopping me. I decided to eat the lemon ones because those are my favourite – then it wouldn’t feel so much like a waste. I removed the packaging of the remaining 4, gathered them together and squished them angrily in my hands while letting out a short battle cry. For a good 5 seconds I felt relieved and satisfied, but then the guilt and stress of cleaning the mess up and wasting food set in almost instantly. After a *lot* of hand washing, I wondered if it was worth it.
Hygge is one of those trends that seems to permeate every discussion of wellness. Every wellness blog, lifestyle influencer and winter-holic would contribute to the resurgence of the Hygge trend every winter, so I was looking forward to finally giving it a go. I knew what Hygge meant and could totally get on board with getting really cosy, but I wanted to know what it looked like and how exactly it was practiced. Luckily I had a Danish co-worker to give me the low down.
As per his instructions, I went home and assembled every duvet, blanket and pillow in sight onto the sofas in my house. I made a mug of green tea and put on my favourite Danish film: A royal affair. Candles were lit, incense was burned, and I put cinnamon in my electric essential oil diffuser to make it feel extra-scandinavian. I put on my comfiest wooly socks and jimmy jammies, and followed my pasta up with berry compote and yoghurt. It felt amazing: like I’d given myself a day off, even though my evenings are free anyway. I could easily have done it every evening.
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Being one of those kids who can’t go 5 minutes without checking my phone, I knew this was going to be my biggest challenge. I woke up and, on autopilot, reached for my phone – only to remember I couldn’t use it. Before the panic set in, I remembered I’d recently gotten a cookbook and hadn’t read through all of the recipes yet. The sound of the pages turning piercing through the silence was overwhelmingly peaceful. The real struggle started when I wanted to pop to the shops. I started walking down the street and felt decidedly anxious, my hands twitching with nothing to hold on to.
When I got back, it came as a huge relief that my flatmates were having drinks. We all sat around chatting, but I could’t help but twitch any time one of them whipped their phones out. I wondered if anyone had messaged me, or had an emergency that I wasn’t aware of. Overall, not having my phone with me made me feel like my life was less complicated for a day without the burdens of updating all my social medias. Did I feel detoxed? The short answer is yes. The beginning of the day was hard, but by the end I was grateful that my mind had had a sufficient break.
For those who don’t know, KonMari is a tidying philosophy and method pioneered by Japanese tidying consultant Marie Kondo. I was first introduced to Marie Kondo when my parents bought me her book ‘the life-changing art of tidying up’ (hint much?). Needless to say, the book changed my life, so I was overjoyed at the prospect of getting to do a KonMari style de-clutter. I don’t have huge amounts of stuff, but a KonMari de-clutter isn’t just about throwing everything out, it’s about re-organising your space and falling in love again with the items that you hold dear.
Nevertheless, I was brutal. I threw out anything that was stained, anything I knew I couldn’t sell and especially anything that I didn’t enjoy wearing – which ended up being a good 2 thirds of my wardrobe. Once that was done, I folded all my clothes in the KonMari technique of standing them up instead of piling them all on top of each other (because if you like something, why hide it under other stuff?) Next, I re-jigged my room and put everything I liked on display. I felt infinitely cleansed. In decluttering my space, I had in fact decluttered my mind.
Lagom is the newest Scandi trend on the block, challenging Hygge for its throne. The term itself roughly translates to ‘moderate’ or ‘just right’ and boils down to the art of living a balanced, fuss-free life. Seems simple? It’s not. Out of all wellness trends, this is the most nuanced. Turns out it’s so nuanced that it’s impossible not to overthink it. Revolving around the rule of never doing too much or too little, I found myself questioning whether everything I did was too Lagom, or not Lagom enough.
Rather than eat at my desk, I went for a little walk. At dinner, I pulled back from my usual bombardment of spices and any random thing I could muster in order to emulate some sort of Snapchat story worthy plate of food, and I instead ate a simple 5 ingredient salad. Following this, rather than scroll through Instagram until my thumb cramped while binge watching Friends until I fell asleep, I put my phone on airplane mode and watched one episode before shutting my laptop. I realised that these small changes made a huge difference to my mood. My mind felt infinitely clearer.
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The prospect of a week of wellness trends seemed like it would be a breeze. In reality, some of these were trickier than you’d expect. I’ve realised that even being stressed or tense is a hard habit to break. The one wellness trend I could easily (and will probably) do every day is Hygge. It’s utterly stress-proof, but more importantly completely do-able. I’ll try to incorporate Lagom into my daily philosophy as it encompass all of these wellness trends; having a break from technology, being comfortable, and keeping a tidy environment. Destruction therapy, on the other hand, can probably be missed – I’d find it much more therapeutic eating the cake rather than destroying it.