Even if you don’t subscribe to traditional advice on health that is rooted in diet culture, such as detoxes or juicing, it’s still hard to avoid the noise of wellness fads from trickling into your psyche. We’re still led to believe that expensive supplements or retreats are the way to peak health, along with time-consuming daily habits like intense workouts seven times a week or making every single morsel we eat from scratch using organic ingredients.
But you may have found that when you do attempt these kinds of wellness habits, you end up feeling even worse than before. You feel sore, tired, potentially hungry and often extremely broke.
Which leads to the question: what exactly does make women feel ‘healthy’? That’s a complex word, but in this context, it simply means energised, happy and the best versions of ourselves. I put that to 58 women, and I was pleasantly surprised by the results.
The two health habits women swear by
The most common two answers were so simple: walking in nature and lifting weights. In fact, my favourite answer came from Strong Women reader Anna Maysey-Wells, who wrote that her one thing that improves health is “Long stompy walks. [They make my] muscles feel tired, lungs feel full, brain feel better.”
Other answers included: “Deadlifts! I love them, who knew?” from Allyson Thomas, and “Our bae, strength training,” from Nancy Best.
While we’ve long been peddling the huge benefits associated with these activities on Strong Women, it’s so refreshing to hear that women are leaning on these positive habits – especially in January, a month traditionally associated with excessive movement and minimal food.
While both of these activities have huge physical benefits, the reasons women love them seem to be for the mental health impact. Weight lifting is about “feeling strong” and “being empowered”, while walks are seen as “grounding”. Maybe that’s because lockdown has made us realise just how relevant mental health is to overall wellbeing, but it could also be because we’ve finally started to realise that movement is much more sustainable when it encompasses our brain and body.
Other ways to feel better
Walking and lifting weren’t the only habits women are relying on to feel good though. Others included variations of the below:
- “Getting enough sleep”
- “Spending less time on my phone”
- “Being on my yoga mat to move and breathe for 10 minutes”
- “Reading with no distractions”
- “Being in the fresh air with greenery”
- “Eating the rainbow”
- “Time to myself”
- “I’m happiest when I feel in control”
- “Lots of water”
This list shows that there are so many different habits that can make us feel better. But most importantly it shows that true health doesn’t come from contorting the size or shape of our bodies, managing food intake or maintaining a high energy expenditure. Pure and simple, the things that make us feel like above average humans boil down to taking time for ourselves, being in the real world and empowering our bodies and minds. If they aren’t things to aim for in 2022, we don’t know what are.