We all know how important health and wellness are, and there is an increasing focus on becoming healthier, more balanced, and ultimately, happier. It’s big business too, with the global wellness industry now valued at a huge $3.72 trillion and accounts for approximately five per cent of the global economic output[1]. It seems that there are new trends and fads coming out every day, from spin classes and yoga to organic food, special drinks, guided meditation classes, and more. There is even a drive to feed our pets clean, healthy, natural food[2].  With the wellness industry now being “one of the world’s fastest, most resilient markets,”[3]outranking the pharmaceutical industry several times over, it’s easy to wonder, is it worth it? And if it is, is it something that is exclusively for high-earners and not for those on a budget?

Wellness trends

Wellness can be defined as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing,”[4]and it’s definitely something that is at the forefront of many people’s thoughts. Searches for ‘self-care’ on Google have increased by 25% in the last year[5], and people are paying for more and more wellness products and services. There are even wellness festivals popping up around the world. The Womad festival, for example, dedicates two acres of land to spa and wellness areas, including meditation led by Buddhist monks and shamanic healing. Likewise, Soul Circus in the UK focuses on wellness, with tickets costs around $260. Founder Ella Wroath explains that she “wanted to create a balanced event that left you feeling rejuvenated and inspired, rather than hungover and unhealthy”[6]

The CEO of the Global Wellness Institute Susie Ellis says that “we are at a pivotal movement where people worldwide are taking steps to change the way they live, work, and play, while at the same time, governments are finally recognizing the value of investing in prevention to lower healthcare costs”[7]. The problem is that all these products, services, and events cost money – and often quite substantial amounts of money. It’s led to the industry gaining a reputation for being expensive, elitist, and merely a way for high-earners to show off their wealth.

 Forget the fads

That’s not necessarily the case though. Therapist Rebecca Kronman says “if it’s been suggested that self-care is for rich, white women, that’s been a mistake”[8]. Wellness doesn’t need to take up a huge portion of your salary, despite what it might seem. Likewise, Professor Helen Strokes-Lampard from the Royal College of GPs in the UK urges people to avoid wellness fads, as they tend to be short-lived and lacking in scientific evidence to back them up. Instead, she says, remember that the essence of what keeps us healthy is the same, regardless of how wealthy we may be. “These include not smoking,” she explains, “only drinking alcohol in moderation, getting enough sleep, eating a nutritious, well-balanced diet and taking regular exercise”[9].

So, although it’s easy to agree that wellness is important and this increased focus is something to cherish, it really isn’t about the money. Some fads will work and some won’t, some products will be worth the money and others won’t. At its very core, however, wellness is not about spending money but about looking after you, and that is something that anyone can do, whatever their budget. 

 Wellness ideas on a budget

You don’t need money for a fancy gym. Running is free, and there are plenty of free fitness classes and guided yoga sessions available on YouTube[10]. Try following trainers on social media sites such as Facebook to get hints and tips on workouts too. Get regular sleep and turn off all your screens at least one hour before bed. In fact, setting up a bedtime ritual will help improve your sleeping pattern in the long run – whether that’s reading for thirty minutes or meditating or something completely different – and that will ultimately improve your wellness. On the topic of meditation, there’s no need to shell out cash for guided meditation classes either. There are many free meditation apps available for your phone or other devices, such as the Calm app[11], or alternatively you can make use of the free trials that many companies offer. 

Organic food, while great, is costly, so instead focus on eating fresh food and reducing your intake of processed foods. Eat seasonally too – it’s cheaper, it tastes better, and it has more nutritional content[12]. Try frozen fruits and vegetables that tend to hold on to their nutritional content after rapid freezing, and learn to cook cheaper cuts of meat. Whatever you do, remember that as great as expensive products and services may be, wellness is about you, your health, and your wellbeing – and those are things that can be improved with simple, low-cost or no-cost changes. 

[1]Welltodo, 2018, Global Wellness Industry Trend Report[online]. Accessed 09.03.2018

[2]Well and Good, 2018, The Top 18 Trends of 2018 are Here![online]. 09.02.2018

[3]Welltodo, op. cit.

[4]Global Wellness Institute, 2014, Global Wellness Institute Study: $3.4 Trillion Global Wellness Market is Now Three Times Larger than Worldwide Pharmaceutical Industry, [online]/ Accessed 09.02.2018

[5]Well and Good, op. cit.

[6]Suzanne Bearne, 2018, Wellness: just expensive hype, or worth the cost?[online]. Accessed 09.02.2018

[7]Global Wellness Institute, op. cit. 

[8]Well and Good, op. cit.

[9]Bearne, op. cit. 

[10]Kali Roberge, 2018, Your Health is Wealth: Why My Wellbeing is Worth More than Money, [online]. Accessed 09.02.2018

[11]Carina Wolff, 2018, 25 Genius Ways to Get a Healthy Lifestyle on a Budget [online]. Accessed 09.02.2018