There are No Quick Fixes for Mental & Physical ‘Wellness’
There are no quick fixes for mental health or physical wellbeing. No one wants to hear this because we’re used to coming across the top 3 tips, the listicles, the “hacks” to be more productive or efficient, healthier, happier, etc. But there are no viable shortcuts in the realm of health and wellness that lead to lasting change and personal growth.
My personal growth journey has been a long, nonlinear one — not that most of the people who ask me about it want to believe it, or even understand what goes on beneath the surface.
People in my life have not held back from telling me I look so much better than I did in high school. Some will ask me what I’ve been doing; Keto? No sugar? Yeah, you definitely don’t eat dessert. Everyone wants to know about the quick fix.
Let me be perfectly clear — I eat dessert. And no, I do not follow Low-carb or Keto or Whole30 or Kabbalah Monster. The only information I listen to about my body and my emotional state comes from within. And it has taken a lot of work (work that never really stops) to learn how to listen.
It took 3+ years of therapy for me to learn how to take care of myself in a way that works for me. Not 3 seconds to click on an ad about the promises of *insert trendy diet or ‘lifestyle’ here*.
This isn’t to say that certain tips or ways of being don’t work for certain people. I found a little intermittent fasting, putting at least 12 hours between my last meal of the day and first, to be helpful, especially during quarantine when time no longer made a lick of sense. But these are just small things on top of a much larger puzzle of long-term health.
Physical health and mental health are inextricably linked. We can’t treat them separately when we talk about ‘wellness’.
The wellness industry has a habit of taking advantage of our minds at their lowest state, promising a quick fix when we most desperately feel the need for change, but don’t feel physically or emotionally capable of doing more than entering our credit card information on a website to buy the next miracle product, exercise equipment, or self-help course.
Genuine care for the self begins with addressing the underlying mental health issues and the narratives we’ve been telling ourselves about who we are, what we deserve, and what we’re capable of.
Therapy wasn’t about learning how to exercise or figuring out what foods were ‘bad’ or ‘good’ (a majorly detrimental mentality, btw), or how to be happier. It was about addressing underlying issues that kept me from taking care of myself, inside and out. For most of my life, I struggled to listen to what I needed and allow myself to do it. When you don’t value yourself, even subconsciously, ‘self-care’ might as well be a foreign language. No amount of facemasks and expensive candles will improve your mental health.
So then, what comes first, the feelings of happiness or healthier habits?
That’s a chicken and the egg kind of question.
In my experience, the two have grown side by side, in what sometimes feels like a steep uphill climb. But this is exactly where a mindset towards longevity and patience outperforms the desire for quick results. If you are playing the long game and addressing the underlying issues of your mental health, you’ll come to understand why the path to a healthier, happier life has been so difficult to navigate. Figuring out these issues can be painful to drudge up, but it flattens the path in front of you for the long term and everything becomes easier (eventually).
It’s important to remember that building healthier routines doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, if it’s taking you a while, you’re probably doing it right (regardless of what the wellness industry wants you to believe).
You Did Not Suddenly Become Lazy, and Other Truths for Anyone Struggling
Isolation survival skills I’ve learned from a lifetime of mental illness
Those who struggle with their mental health know how frustrating it can be to come across those ‘quick fixes’ all over the internet, social media, and in self-care literature. Even when we know, from a logical place, that these quick fixes won’t work, in dark times it’s easy to fall victim to an easy way out. The emotional parts of our brains, which are often the parts that are struggling, can be easily convinced to click the link promising a healthier, happier you.
I Don’t Want Your Self-Help Hacks
People with mental illness can’t will their way back to happiness
Although there are no quick fixes to mental health and happiness, getting in the right mindset can make it more enjoyable.
The quote “Nothing worth having comes easy.” is attributed to Teddy Roosevelt, but verbatim the quote goes like this:
“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”
― Theodore Roosevelt
Leading a life well requires a deep understanding of yourself that no quick fix can manifest. It takes time and patience to figure out how you ended up where you are, and what needs to change.
Mental health is a spectrum. Physical health takes time (and requires just as much mental work as physical work). No two people will have the same journey or outcome in the world of wellness, so let’s stop trying to make ‘self-care’ a one size fits all prescription.