5 October 2017

Some problems with spirituality and wellness blogs

"Spirituality" and "wellness" are two of those words that I find it pretty much impossible to define. They are terms that are so wide reaching and mean so many different things to so many different people, that I feel as though my personal understanding doesn't even begin to scrape the surface. "Spirituality" can mean spending your Sunday singing hymns or it can mean carrying crystals in your handbag. Or both. "Wellness" can mean being a vegan spirialising enthusiast or it can mean being dedicated to daily self-care. Or both. Ultimately, I think it's this elusiveness that makes blogging about such topics very difficult. Spirituality and wellness will always run off the pages on anything written about them and every reader will have a different expectation. As such, I can't help but feel that online content related to them often falls short.

Before I jump into some of the issues that I have with this community I consider myself a part of, I think it's important to say that I love seeing these subjects getting attention. It was Youtubers such as Catia Mallan and Megan Hughes that introduced me to the worlds of meditation and crystal work. I read wellness blogs on a daily basis. It's something that I think we should be talking about. But that doesn't mean that the way we are doing so is perfect. There are problems that I've experienced whilst reading others' posts and whilst writing my own. There are things that we can and should do better at.


I think one of my main issues is the way that spirituality and wellness based content attempts to replicate trends within the blogging world. Top tips, fail safe diet plans, easy steps: These are the posts that we can all see getting clicks and shares. So, whether you're trying to get your message to more people or to build a lucrative business from it, I can see the appeal of trying to mould your work into popular content styles. Still, I can't help but feel like the blogging archetypes are restrictive when it comes to such elusive subjects. The truth is that it's not possible to condense inner peace into "4 super duper simple steps to do before breakfast". Sure, those steps might work for the writer and they might even work for some of the readers, but they won't work for everyone. And too often I feel as though they are presented as fail-safe. I think it sets a dangerous precedent. Of course the reader wants to find a short cut to spiritual living but, ultimately, there isn't a spirituality/wellness equivalent to coconut oil. There's no single wonder product and I think we need to stop pretending there is. Whilst you can and probably do relate to what a lot of wellness bloggers say, their experience will never be your own. Finding what works for you is a personal (and often long) process.

Now, that's not to say that this content is useless. I love hearing about people's journeys. They've certainly had a huge space in the way that I've learnt about myself. However, I always try to mentally replace phrases like, "the ten activities everyone needs to try to live their best life" with "the ten things that bought me joy and might bring you joy too". Sure, it ain't so snappy, but it's a worthy sacrifice.

I also hate that a scroll through my Bloglovin' feed is mainly people telling me what I should buy. As I've said before, it's an issue I have with the blogging world as a whole, but I feel it's even more relevent in regards to this type of industry. "The meditation essentials that you need in your life!" "5 sassy yoga tops that every woman should own!" It makes me want to scream. Or, ya know, do some lion's breaths because a blogger told me one time that it would extinguish all of my stress. It's these posts that reinforce just how elitist the wellness community is. We all know that it's extremely white, extremely middle class and extremely full of people ignoring the fact that mental illnesses exist. So, to suggest that you can't "succeed" at becoming a more spiritual person without forking out some cash doesn't really help the cause. Affiliate links seem to be overpowering the ultimate idea that all you really need is yourself.

Don't let people tell you that peace can be found in your purse.

I guess I just wish that bloggers were more conscious of what they're truly promoting every time they write a post, especially when it's hidden under the guise of helping people to live their best lives. Sometimes the blog post cookie cutter isn't applicable and I believe that this is one of those times. Which is why when I write any wellness or spirituality content from now on I'm going to be more aware of my language. I promise I won't tell you what you need to have or do. I won't pretend that I have all of the answers. Instead, I'll tell you what works for me in case it might help you too.


1 comment:

  1. I literally want to give you a big hug for writing this post. It literally summarises EXACTLY how I feel - not only about wellness blogs, but blogging in general.

    I used to be so so guilty of the whole "OMG GUYS you need this!" language in blogging, to the point that I deleted 4+ years of posts because they just didn't make me proud - but at the time of writing them I was a uni student and everything was about enabling reckless spending of that student loan. It didn't matter where it came from - it just mattered if it was cheap, or better, free. I didn't even give a thought to where it came from, who I was giving my money to, or how that reflected on me.

    For that reason, now even a lot of bloggers I love I roll my eyes at the sense of promotion. Of course some make a living from blogging and that's their prerogative but I get so despondent about the fact that it so often comes across as the salesmanship so many people avoid (and target the staff at LUSH for doing!! - at least they're selling half-ethical products as opposed to "hair vitamins" which literally can't repair hair because hair is dead, or "detox tea" which is basically laxatives.) I just get really tired of being told what I NEED to buy, what is a MUST HAVE, and especially when it's done in a half hearted way like so many are. I've reached a point where I can read a review and it makes me sad because any statement like "why not pick it up and try it, it might work for you" on a £20 bottle of conditioner is a pretty damn expensive gamble yet to put it in this casual language enforces the way our society thrives from casual spending and quick consumerism. I really appreciate your statement that you are using language in your blog posts to discuss what has worked for YOU and what YOU have enjoyed (because it's a whole different thing just to say, hey, I loved this in a genuine manner, and if you genuinely recommend a product that statement has so much more authenticity as a result) and I have definitely been striving to do the same since kickstarting my own little rant site back up.

    TLDR; loved this post.

    blog.doodleheart.co.uk

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