Having worked within the health industry for over 10 years, I frequently hear the term health and wellness. And with a comprehensive array of occupations fitting under the wellness banner nowadays, health and wellness services are abundant and widely available. While many accredited health and wellness providers are generally accessible due to rebates or subsidies, what happens if obstacles arise in utilising these services?
While many of us are familiar with self-help tools and strategies available from online sources, books, and healthcare services, applying readily available tools is commonly more complex. Can I share something with you? Lurking beneath the subconscious surface exists a more significant obstacle than the accessibility of health and wellness services. You may resonate with this obstacle. This lurky ‘thing’ often goes unseen yet creates a murky mental-health atmosphere for self-care goers. If affected, people can find themselves at one self-care roadblock after another. This ‘something’ is a stigma.
Too often, there is a subconscious connection to the stigma people associate with self-care. If we intellectualised what causes this stigma, the conclusion would be different based on individuality. However, the common denominator would be a person’s perception founded on internal and external influences.
“Every one of us needs to show how much we care for each other and, in the process, care for ourselves.”— Princess Diana.
Health and wellness represent caring for oneself, and there are myriad ways to do this. For many, it takes courage to choose which self-care modality suits their health needs; searching for the right health practitioner and modality also takes time, energy, and trial and error. The process of achieving improved health and wellness is often criticised by those around us, favourably or unfavourably, which can extend to the broader community offloading their unsought opinions. The stigma when undergoing an act of self-care can pose an underlying hazard to the person who prioritises their transformation or healing.
“Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.” Malcolm S. Forbes.
The familiar culture of ‘just keep going’ is typically amongst us, with a darker message attached to it; to sacrifice essential aspects of life for something perceived far more valuable, available and never disappointing. Unfortunately, this disconnected collective mindset has cultivated a systemic spiral of unhealthy living (mind, body, and soul), depriving people of optimum health and wellness.
Let’s look at what happens when health and wellness are encouraged, supported, and role-modelled. From my professional and personal experience with health and wellness work, the negative stigma around self-care is rapidly evolving. There is an increased amount of evidence-based research presenting the benefits of self-care approaches. Increasingly, studies and the conscious movement towards improving health and wellness, the shift of stigma within the community, people’s attitudes towards self-care, and the workspace will continue to evolve. Through acceptance, stigmas change.
In previous generations, workplace environments typically inherited averse perspectives towards self-care where work ethics were prioritised over individual wellbeing by modelling the ‘just keep going’ attitude. Nowadays, workplace wellbeing, where staff are encouraged to integrate self-care within their work environment, is accepted, appreciated and admired. Executing a vested interest in the success of the workplace, staff wellbeing, workplace efficiency, and overall productivity inevitably lifts the esteem of any organisation. Some organisations employ yoga or meditation facilitators for their staff’s lunch breaks or dedicated wellness hours, improving staff productivity and health and wellness. At the same time, many small, medium and larger corporate organisations have yet to implement health and wellness measures for their workforce.
“Wellness is a connection of paths: knowledge and actions.” Joshua Holtz.
Within my work as a Kinesiologist, I am noticing an exponential increase in client fatigue, exhaustion, and burnout. Empowering me to continue in my profession, I also see clients making conscious decisions to sculpt their experiences, family dynamics and work-life balance to bring a sense of fulfilment, satisfaction and meaning into their everyday lives.
One way to curb burnout is to insert pockets of rest and restoration into the year ahead or at any forward-planning opportunity. Let us label this intentional action as ‘non-negotiables’.
So, what is a self-care non-negotiable?
A self-care non-negotiable is something you have decided upon and are unwilling to renounce a part of yourself that commands more than dishonouring your boundaries, meaning being intentional in mind, heart, body and soul to honour this within yourself. Creating time for yourself affirms the value of self-care and your willingness/readiness to feel worthy, setting a boundary to prioritise health and wellness.
“The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.” Anna Quindlen.
Do with yourself that which no one else can. To enhance your life, offer yourself the type of care that you know you truly need. Embracing a solid sense of self-appreciation by thinking, feeling and behaving in favour of self-care could be the very action that will help move you towards a life you love.