On Wellness

Emily, our BIN editor, delves in the big bad W word with Brooke

We’ll be honest: at Beginning is Now, we all have a...complicated relationship with the word “wellness.” For us, it’s pretty simple. And intuitive. And, dare we say, fun? (Hint: tequila may be involved.) We’ll just let Brooke take it from here.

First of all...what is wellness?

“Most people hear about a new wellness brand and think, is it going to be yoga mats, adaptogens, retreats, seaweed wraps? They’re going to tell me to breathe and take a moment for myself? And yeah, that stuff is pretty good! But I’m always hoping for a fresh approach to the entirety of wellness. There’s a whole daily mental-physical-spiritual-psychic wellness that starts when you wake up and has to do with so many things.”

Such as...

“The meaning of the word wellness has changed over the years for me. I used to think wellness meant fitting into a certain size jeans, or specifics like what you eat. Then I realized that my wellness started with what was in my head, and what my head was telling the rest of my body to feel.

Wellness doesn’t have to mean going to a desert ranch and spending $30K for the week! For me, wellness starts at home and has morphed into a rounded, complete version of care. Taking care of my whole being and myself. It covers everything: tea with a friend, a spin class, reading a book, laughing, doing something out of my comfort zone, saying yes to things and making my whole life rounder and fuller and in turn happier. Wellness to me is much more about all of those things coming together.”

But what if I’m just not into meditating?

“Personally, I’m not very good at meditating. I wish I could be, but my type of meditation is getting up and reading the newspaper on my porch. Listening to a podcast and walking. My meditation has to be more of an activity. Baking Parker House rolls can be a meditation for me!”

Sometimes the whole thing just feels a little...overwhelming.

“My resistance when it comes to ‘wellness’ is gimmicks. Paraphernalia, stuff to buy, all the work involved. I just think: move your body, eat more vegetables, get your vitamins in your food. I like things to be distilled, simpler. And cleaner and simpler can actually be less expensive. I don’t think wellness has to be expensive.

Talk to me about ashwaganda supplements.

“I’ll try anything once, but I’d rather have a tequila.”

So why do we have to do this wellness thing?

“Our bodies are extraordinary and they do so much for us, but we’re really meant to take care of them. We need to respect them. We think in terms of extremes—like to embrace wellness you need to not eat this or that, not do this or that...and then all of a sudden there’s nothing left! Everything’s wrong or toxic. And you have to just stop and break it down a little bit. Start with what you can do. Move. We can all do something to feel physically better, and in turn you’ll feel mentally better.”

Okay, we’re in. Let’s be well. How do you do it?

“I have to take my personal well-being day by day. I’m a ruminator—I can spin out and spiral quickly. It’s not rational! I know. I’m such a perfectionist, and I’ll go back to something from 25 years ago and say, why didn’t I do it that way? But when I see myself getting dark about things, I have a good reset button. I always tell my friends when they’re spiraling: find your reset button. I know I need to immediately switch my environment.

You know how when you get a puppy you need to exhaust them so they can go to sleep? Sometimes I’m like that. I need to go take a spin class or go do something physically difficult, something that can help me completely escape, so I can then reset and not ruminate about the past and freak out about the future.” 

But it’s not just about workouts, right?

“For me, it’s really about making sure you take time for yourself. And not necessarily things like exercise class or taking a bath or doing a mud mask—although those are great and the ritual of those things I think is really good—but actually giving time to yourself and not just taking care of other people. I think a lot of women take care of everyone around them, and they put their priorities at the bottom because they can justify that they’re not as important or that they’re a luxury. And I’ve learned that the more balanced I am, the better I am to my friends and family and people around me—and in turn I respect myself a little more because I’ve taken time to prioritize myself. For me, that’s wellness.”

Sounds simple. So why does everyone always overcomplicate it?

“One thing does not work for everybody. There’s no one way to do it. And we don’t have to do it like another person does it. Wellness is nuanced and there’s no magic pill. You have to say: okay, I’m ready to have an active part in my wellness. I think when people hear ‘wellness,’ they go, it’s too woo-woo, like living in a tent on a mountain or meditating all day. Wellness is so much more practical. It has to be a bit demystified. It can be as simple as having a glass of wine with a friend!”

Thanks, Brooke!

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