I’ve been thinking a lot about the wellness industry lately — specifically as it relates to what we see on social media and in marketing — this idealized, almost utopian lifestyle for a specific (elite) demographic. You know what I’m talking about, right? Images and posts suggesting you must attend a $30 workout class 5x/week, wear $100 leggings, or come home to a throne of crystals with a $25 adaptogenic smoothie in tow in order to achieve true health and unlock your full cosmic powers. Of course, I understand that I choose who I follow, and I’m smart enough to know when something is curated or sponsored. Yet, I still feel like I’m missing this industry talk about the simplicity of self-care and wellness, which should be accessible and affordable to all.

At a recent event someone asked me, “What does wellness mean to you?” Without hesitation I said, “Wellness starts from within. It’s about connecting my mind to my body and making sure everything feels good. And if it doesn’t, getting honest with the ‘why’ and correcting course. It’s understanding what I need every single day to live life fully.” Frankly, when I feel good, I feel powerful. When I don’t feel good, everything in my life feels off. It’s as simple as that.

If you follow me on social media, you know I’m no stranger to the $30 workout class or the $100 leggings. I genuinely love a good pair of compression tights, and you cannot deny me of my weekly endorphin-fix via spin classes. However, I’m also very aware that these luxuries are only part of the equation — and firmly believe that true wellness starts from within. It starts with your mind — and spending time getting to know what your body needs, and listening and acting accordingly. It’s about unleashing the tools inside of us that allow us to decipher whether we’re making choices with intention, or filling voids. It gives us the power to understand the difference between what we want and what we need. This kind of self-care — mental clarity and awareness — is unique and sacred because it’s specific to you. It’s not something you can purchase from Instagram or your favorite boutique.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you don’t take the class, purchase the crystals, or drink the smoothie. But I am suggesting that you make choices with intention and remember that wellness and self-care doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive. Truthfully, you have everything you need inside of you to take care of yourself if you’re willing to see it. Because I’m craving more honest, raw, and real conversations around wellness and self-care, I asked a handful of my friends and women I admire how they take care of themselves in a way that costs virtually nothing (or very little). And, of course, isn’t over-hyped online or on social media. Here’s what they had to say:

photo via by tezza

“It’s that extra hour in the morning that feels almost like a gift to myself. It means a much less stressful, more present start. I mix it up — a walk in the park, journaling, reading up on some personal development, a slow breakfast, or some stretching. It’s my nonnegotiable golden hour and sets me up for a great day.”

Lauren Armes, founder of WellToDo

 

“For me it’s unplugging and going outside. I often sit on my balcony and listen to the birds, or I hop on my bike and head out to the nearby farm roads. I try to breathe deeply and pay attention to the surrounding natural beauty.”

Kirsten Dickerson, founder of Raven & Lily

photo via a beach cottage

 

“The one thing I do for my overall personal wellbeing is take 2-3 mile walks a few times each week. I try to take sunset walks and just enjoy the fresh air, trees, and the beautiful sunset. It really helps me clear my mind and focus on the day ahead.”

Tina Wells, BuzzMG

 

“Mental wellbeing is something I’m really passionate about – both for me and also for the people who work for me. In our PR company we offer free meditation, Headspace subscriptions, free gym memberships, and flexible schedules — all things that I find help improve space, clarity, and stress reduction — but I also know that each individual has their own unique self-care tools that have the greatest impact. For me, there is nothing more powerful than the sun on my back and the breeze in my hair on a run – and if I’m extra stressed I will drive myself to a beautiful location I haven’t seen before and hit the ground in my sneakers to explore on a jog, reminding myself of the beautiful world we live in.”

Danielle Gano, founder of Elle Communications

photo via jess ann kirby

“Fresh air and my four-legged friend. There’s nothing like a long walk/hike with Brody to help clear the mind and get re-centered. Sometimes I listen to a podcast, sometimes I just listen. Secret for it being even more next-level rejuvenating? Not looking at my phone once or taking pics to post on social media.”

Sarah Hernholm, WIT & Smart City Saturday

 

“When I am taking the best care of myself I wake up early and journal and read for 30 minutes to an hour, I then use the headspace app for a 10 minute mindfulness session and then I do a 20 minute stretching/Pilates video my dear friend made for me….in the winter I followed this practice every day for months and I felt clearer minded, peaceful, intentional w my time and way more productive. Its such an easy practice yet I still find myself putting it off. Practices are such hard disciplines but they are so meaningful and helpful when we actually do them. Ok, I’m off to do it right now!”

Ruthie Lindsey, inspirational speaker

photo via gal meets glam

“Time with friends. I love some alone time but more than anything I vibe off people’s energy and I love to get groups of friends together whether for dinner parties or one on ones at cozy restaurants. Nothin’ beats a glass of wine and some good conversations, it always invigorates me.”

Bianca Pettinicchi, CAA Creative Artist Agency

 

“I try to fit in one thing for myself each day to keep me feeling calm and clear-headed. Usually it’s moving my body, whether that’s just active stretching or a walk. Most days though it’s a glass of wine, a sheet mask & a good book at the end of the night (Currently reading ‘It starts with Why’) or waking up 30 minutes early to drink tea on my porch with my dogs before the rest of the house gets up.”

Danielle Sobel, owner of Juice Society

photo via albion fit

“When I’m too tightly wound, I grab my real camera, leave my phone at home, and go for a walk around my neighborhood. I snap pictures of discarded furniture, bizarre yard decorations, whatever captures my attention. It’s a treasure hunt in compassion: it makes me more attentive to the lives of others. And when shit really hits the fan, I listen to a Headspace SOS session.”

Kelton Wright, Headspace

 

“I actually stalled on this earlier because my go to self-care routine is binge eating chips and binge watching crime procedural dramas. But the free thing I’ve been doing lately that ACTUALLY makes me feel better is just being less hard on myself. What I’m realizing is that “wellness” and “self-care” are less about lifestyle brands and products, and more for me about accepting myself and practicing compassion – for myself and for others.”

Julie Yost, SXSW

Read more Living Kindly posts here!

5 comments
  1. 1
    Molly | September 13, 2017 at 7:54 am

    One of my favorite KK articles to date. So many mentioned their mornings as the best time to center themselves and set the tone for their day. Fresh air is for sure a thing for me! I quit my gym membership and just bought packs of classes so I wouldn’t get that guilt exercising outside.

    Reply
  2. 2
    Molly | September 13, 2017 at 11:30 am

    Love this so much! I have a lot of work-related anxiety and lately I’ve been trying to zone in on how to eliminate it on a poor girl’s budget. One thing I’ve learned is to lean into whatever it is that is making me anxious and/or unkind to myself. So if I feel that someone is upset with me about something, I try just saying to that person “Is everything cool?”. If I have work piling up I buckle down, sit on my picnic table in the sun and try to work in a focused way for a couple of hours. You get the point. This has helped me exponentially! And the best thing about leaning into the fear or anxiety is that it is FREE and WORKS.

    Reply
  3. 3
    Lulu | September 13, 2017 at 8:54 pm

    Could you recommend a good pair of compression leggings?

    Reply
  4. 4
    LULU | September 16, 2017 at 10:44 am

    Can you recommend a good pair of compression tights?

    Reply
  5. 5
    chiara | September 18, 2017 at 4:49 am

    I always enjoy a walk or going for a good run to clear my mind. The beach really helps me to relax too!

    Reply
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