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Wellness is a $4 trillion industry. Then why do we all feel this way?

Your wellbeing does not equate to things
Wellness is a $4 trillion industry. Then why do we all feel this way?

Sustain issue #39 (Get Sustain in your inbox next Thursday)

The popular narrative for this week between Christmas and New Year’s is to lock in your resolutions and figure out what you want your life to look like in the new year.

For the last few years, I’ve ditched making resolutions. Why? Because it’s a terrible time of year (at least in the northern hemisphere) to make change. As I write this, the days are about as short as they get and we have snow flurries outside. The conditions are terrible. That’s why I focus on the summertime for any changes when nature is more encouraging of me. I wrote more about that here.

Wellness does not mean things

However, if you are contemplating resolutions, goals, or generally introducing new habits into your life, I’ll share this thought with you today.

Wellness and self-care is not an accumulation of things. It’s actually an accumulation of less. Less things that are a proxy for wellness. A less complex routine that doesn’t mentally tax you.

“Self-care has become a thing. It has become a giant, capitalist thing,” says Ijeoma Oluo. “Feeling stressed? Why don’t you get this spa membership, or even better, why don’t you get this special heated spa blanket for your home? Oh you can’t possibly relax without these new plush pajamas.”

The danger, as I have experienced and I’m sure you have too, is that we’re led to believe through an Instagram ad or a Joe Rogan podcast guest that this one product or lifestyle hack will flip your life. You’re so close, you just need this one thing!

But, of course, that doesn’t happen. Surprise, surprise.

And you've spent your hard-earned money, contributed to the environmental impacts of making these products that get used only a handful of times, and the real kicker – you end up feeling like a failure. Wow, I suck, I couldn’t even keep up with making my daily celery juice.

According to the Global Wellness Institute, wellness is a $4 trillion dollar industry 🤯

We’re spending like crazy grasping at straws for the faint promise of wellness. But we all still feel like crap. Maybe, just maybe, something isn’t working here?!?!

Lean into community care

So, if you can’t spend your way into being well, what is there to do?

Oluo again: “Community care strives to create environments in which we all can thrive. Community care values all resources, and therefore provides a lasting safety and comfort that isn’t dependent on economic success. Community care has reminded me time and time again that I’m never alone, and always have reason for hope.”

Find people that promote wellness for you. Find daily time and space to power down (even if it’s just for a few minutes). Don’t rely on things that are a proxy to wellness.

At a sustainable pace,


Ready to downsize your relationship with work and quit burnout?

Hi, I'm Grant Gurewitz. I'm on a mission to end burnout at work. I've been in tech for 10 years (ex-Zillow, current: Qualtrics) who suffered deep burnout and came back from it with no help of the hacky advice out there.

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