Gurpreet Kharay: 'Wellness' can be bad for your health

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Headshot of Katherine Kimber  Gurpreet Kharay

 

Gurpreet Kharay (Nutrition, 2009; Medicine, 2010) is a doctor in Adelaide, Australia


 

                                                                                           

 Last year, in my quest to achieve that perfect state of ‘wellness’, I made one big new year’s resolution. I was going to start waking up at 05:00 each morning in order to achieve the perfect morning routine.

Why had I chosen such a drastic course of action?

Well, it started, innocently enough, with me watching a YouTube video on ‘achieving the perfect smokey eye’. That video led me to another from the same YouTuber on her morning routine. I hadn’t ever considered my ‘morning routine’ before, but I had soon watched 100 videos on the subject and learnt a couple of things: First, most Youtubers have entirely pastel homes, and secondly, I was not being as productive as these people who were waking up at five am to drink green smoothies that would give them #limitlessenergy. Inspired by the promise of ‘increased productivity’, ‘healthy routine’ and of course this notion of ‘wellness’, I was convinced that this was the path that I needed to take to be better.

To cut a long story short, after a week of waking up at the crack of dawn and heading to work to be greeted by a cup of green sludge, I was exhausted. By Friday evening, with my mind screaming ‘sleep deprivation’, I collapsed into a long sleep. Over the weekend, I ordered Uber Eats and watched a Game of Thrones marathon and I felt much better than I had done all week. Ironically my quest for wellness had made me a little unwell.

This is not to say there can’t be benefits to having a routine. During my week I managed to get some exercise, which made me feel good. I also realised that hitting the gym after work was better for me, helping release tension from the day and improving my sleep as a result. Perhaps if I didn’t have a full-time job, or ran a business from home the morning routine would help me be more productive with those extra hours before the onslaught of emails.

But in general, the experience was not a good one. What my week really taught me was that we can be so blinded by the promises of ‘wellness’ gurus, we fail to see we may be well enough already. Prior to knowledge of 05:00 morning routines, I was waking up at a decent hour and getting to work on time and doing fine. Wellness is subjective. If you are comfortable with your life, not abusing your body with toxins and achieving what you had set out to achieve, then that’s wellness isn’t it? Perhaps sometimes the old saying is right, ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.’ And if there is something that needs fixing, 05:00 might not be the best time to try doing it.

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