5 free ways to get a little bit of wellness into your week
In our new fortnightly column, self-confessed wellness obsessive Hannah Bullimore will be exploring various health trends, practices and locations – and spilling the tea on which work, which don’t and what’s really worth the hype.
By Hannah Bullimore
Wellness. That word is everywhere.
Perhaps even more so after the last few years of Covid. The NHS backlog added to the cost-of-living crisis has seemingly made us all seek a little more calm and wellbeing in our daily lives.
Everywhere you look online there’s a different version of wellness – a product or trend, an aesthetic video of someone who just seems to be gliding through life.
But wellness isn’t a trend. It’s a way to take ownership of our own health and wellbeing; to prioritise ourselves and what it means to be happy.
I’m a bit of a wellness obsessive if I’m honest. Back in 2020, I was lucky enough to write for High Life North about a series of wellness trends, from mindfulness to manifestation. And my love for all things self-care has led me here: at the start of this column series, which I’ll be writing every other week.
WHY DOES WELLNESS MATTER?
My love for yoga, meditation and relaxation began all the way back in 2005, when I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease at the age of 11.
It wasn’t until my mid-20s that my health improved and, during that time, a doctor recommended yoga; another suggested meditation and another swimming. Acupuncture also got a mention, though that’s about the only wellness treatment I’m yet to try.
What I have found over the last (nearly) two decades of chronic health problems is that, while wellness trends aren’t a cure, they are an empowering tool for feeling as well as possible within your current circumstances.
Whether it’s overcoming insomnia with mindfulness, incorporating two minutes of breathing techniques a day, reading a book to relax or going to a yoga class once a week, there is a wellness activity for everyone.
In the last few years my health has massively improved. Now, this is mainly down to the good ol’ NHS. However, it is also down to prioritising sleep, food, exercise and time for my own wellbeing.
LEARNING HOW TO REST
In yoga we have a term that I have always loved: active rest.
Active rest is taking on a truly restorative posture with cushions and blankets to support our bodies, rather than lying completely flat to the earth. You might also be guided through a meditation, such as a yoga nidra – also known as yogic sleep.
Meanwhile, practicing active rest in our daily lives is a switch from mindlessly watching TV (though there’s always time for that), to participating in an activity like walking, meditating or restorative yoga. I think of it as actively engaging in time to rest and restore, rather than mindlessly switching my brain to auto pilot.
This idea of active rest has had me swimming in the sea, practicing yoga in the heat and even trying ice cold showers.
But there is so much more to explore.
WELLNESS IN THE NORTH
Where better to test all things wellness than in the beautiful North East?
We have a thriving wellness community here. From gorgeous pilates and yoga studios to amazing wellness experts and every type of exercise class you can imagine.
In this fortnightly column, I’ll be exploring various health trends, reviewing wellness locations and offering you some guidance on how you can find mindfulness without spending money or using up too much of your valuable time.
Wellness is for everyone and this column will truly be a celebration of that.
5 FREE WAYS TO GET A BIT OF WELLNESS INTO YOUR WEEK
What better place to start than with some affordable wellness?
We’re all feeling the pinch at the moment and the beautiful wellness trends online can make it seem as though the key to good wellbeing is through expensive leggings and high-tech headphones. But wellness can actually be free and effective.
Sounds too simple, doesn’t it? But a slow, steady exhale engages the parasympathetic nervous system and tells our bodies to slow down, rest and restore.
A simple way to bring some chill time into your routine could be to start your day, finish your lunch and close the day with five long, slow exhales. With each exhale, try to feel your shoulders loosen and lower. Perhaps even notice your jaw and forehead relax, too.
One thing, mindfully
Pick one thing today and do it mindfully.
Mindfulness means living in the present moment – not worrying about past mistakes or stressing about future concerns.
Some examples of this might be making dinner without your phone and focusing all your attention on preparing the meal. It could be focusing on the sounds on your journey home after work. It could be lying in bed and relaxing one limb at a time before you go to sleep.
Manifestation is a huge mindfulness trend at the moment and it’s largely based on the premise of raising your vibration through positivity.
Sometimes, though, positivity can be difficult to come by. So, start small – each night before going to sleep, write down three things you’re grateful for. This could be in a notebook, on your phone or just in your mind. They don’t have to be big things, either; they can be as small as the first sip of coffee you have in the morning.
10 Minutes of Movement
As much as we would all love to say we fit exercise into our daily lives, sometimes it just isn’t possible to get to a class or go on a long walk.
Instead, try just fitting in 10 minutes of movement into your day. All movement is good – it doesn’t have to be a HIIT class, it could mean getting off the bus a stop sooner, having a dance about the kitchen while your dinner cooks (yes, I do this – glass of wine in hand with my Labrador looking at me like I’ve lost my mind), or hopping on YouTube and find a 10-minute exercise video.
Voice Notes and Video Calls
Sometimes, you just need a few minutes chatting with a friend or loved one to lift your spirit.
I love a good voice note chat with my friends as we can fit it around whatever we’re up to, but we still get to catch up. Another option, if life is too busy to get out for a drink, is to have a lockdown-style video call with a glass of wine for half an hour to catch up. With some company and a good natter, I’ve no doubt you’ll be able to feel your wellbeing being boosted!