Vandana VermaComment

When wellness feels icky

Vandana VermaComment
When wellness feels icky

It’s been really quiet on here. In part this is because I haven’t been dipping into anything particularly new or noteworthy in my self-care arsenal, so there hasn’t been quite as much to report. I’ve also been grappling a little with a content direction for the site as a whole, particularly in this post-Goop world, where the idea of ‘wellness’ suddenly feels like a really, really spendy exercise in self-indulgence.

When I started The Tonic it was, in part, a document of my relationship with my own health. The site was intended to be a place where I could dabble in and document interesting holistic alternatives to traditional healthcare practices and gave me room to try things intended to bring more health, pleasure, and rest into my life at a time when I felt a little stretched on all those fronts. My personal practice has come a long way since but I’ve stopped documenting a lot of it because even the words, ‘wellbeing’ or ‘wellness’, trigger my cringe reflex, so associated are they with an Instagram-fuelled compulsion for obnoxiously optimum health, $200 supplements with pearl dust and hou she wou, or $500 Human Design readings. Note: Let me be clear, if you offered me any of those for free I would say thank you, take it, try it and likely enjoy as well as Instagram the shit out of it, but that has everything to do with my own longstanding interest in the esoteric and very little to do with the core practices that give me more energy and clarity.

The very last thing that I want The Tonic to turn into is another place chocka with recommendations that just leave you feeling like you always have to do more, be more, BUY MORE. So much of what is trotted out as ‘wellness wisdom’ is really just common sense. Eat well, sleep well, do the things that make you feel good and give you the freedom to do and be the things you want to. There is so much bullshit advice floating around, or trendy eating plans that require you to think and think and think about every damn meal, and healthy eating truly isn’t that complicated. It is actually obnoxiously simple. The real work is just engaging with this simple wisdom in a long-term way, the only wellness that really going to be sustainable in the long run.

I’m done, in essence, with the commoditized and dead-tired wellness scene, with acai and/or smoothie bowls and ‘golden mylk’

This state of wellness has evolved naturally from a wealth of information; we have more information streaming through our devices and access to more knowledge (both the solid and the seriously suspect) than ever before, and if that helps you engage in living more consciously, or eating in a manner that takes into consideration your body, your mind, your environment and the interdependencies between them all, well great. That is true privilege.

Self-betterment has always been a thing and the transformation from diet culture to this wellbeing vibe is a welcome one, likely attributed to the free flow of information that social media affords. Like any other industry, once something is popular, it also has the potential to be profitable, which is when the commonsense wisdom of haldi-doodh when you have a sore throat becomes the turmeric latte in every coffee shop that’s just bunged loads of awful kacchhi haldi into milk and tastes like ass.

There is also a very suspect facade of expertise that’s running rampant on Instagram that’s contributed to this general feeling of ickiness. While I adore working out and could likely point out a badly executed lunge, I am in no way qualified to do so. While I have a good sense of what works for my body and the food and drink that makes me feel my best, I am in no way able to counsel somebody else on their own nutrition and health. On a recent trip to Thailand, the most vexing part of an incredible week spent training and sleeping and eating delicious and nourishing Thai food was the always-lurking Instagram husbands or worse, the person who kept stopping mid-class to say “can you take a video of me?” JESUS NO I CANNOT BECAUSE I’M TAKING THE DAMN CLASS, please go away.

I’m done, in essence, with the commoditized and dead-tired wellness scene, with acai and/or smoothie bowls and moon circles and celebrity-endorsed morning dance parties with a side of meditation and golden mylk… to say that ‘I’m done with’ however implies that I was somehow a part of it to begin with and everybody has to choose their own adventure, but for me none of these things ever made me feel good or better or well. Gatherings of ‘wellness bloggers and influencers’ stress me the fuck out, and I’m so grateful to people for taking the time to invite me but it’s just not what wellness means to me. Acai bowls in India are just DUMB. Yes they’re gorgeous and instagrammable but you’re flying this damn fruit halfway around the world to package it into one overpriced and tired bowl of mush when there is an abundance of gorgeous, local fruit available at arm’s reach and that’s leaving aside the fact that there’s as much sugar in them as a ginormous slice of cake.

What’s next for The Tonic?

There’s never going to be one formula that works for everyone, but clearly this formula isn’t for me. Good health and feeling inspired and happy in my skin is a 360-degree affair. Everything is connected: brain, body, foot, fitness, career, relationships, sleep, stress, sex, social life… I’m so wrapped up in my own messy little head sometimes that I assume everything I know is common knowledge, or that everybody is lucky enough to be having these conversations on the daily, but I’m often reminded that this really isn’t the case, and that there are other people out there who’re tired of the many clichés that seem to accompany any foray into these subjects.

From looking at my own practices in depth to now looking outwards at other perspectives and at a holistic appreciation of the body, The Tonic’s next phase seeks to celebrate people with skill and knowledge that are contributing to this conversation.

More soon. Watch this space x