While ‘wellness’ has become a loaded buzzword in recent years, and one that is linked to feeling ‘less than’ to keep us on the hamster wheel of buying, we all still want to feel good. Enter Well and Truly, a column that believes wellness should be a buffet that caters to all rather than a set menu – leave what you don’t like, take what appeals and come back for seconds for the things that work for you.
As general manager of the Arts Foundation and founding member of the In*ter*is*land Collective Jessica Palalagi’s days (and nights) are a blend of corporate organisational skills and creativity. She’s also a huge advocate for the importance of creativity in wellbeing. Herewith the tips and tricks for her balancing act.
What hours do you work each day?
A lot. But it's so varied, that sometimes I forget its "work".
Do you have set work/life boundaries or do they merge?
Very much a big merge - as a creative, then also in my role at the Arts Foundation, it all becomes one big wonderful melange of art in life and life in art.
Like going to a show, I wouldn't say that is work, but technically it is. I think this work ethic vibe came from my working in corporates, and that kind of awful burnout culture. I am trying to listen to my body and realise sometimes I actually just need to go and do something else, spend some time on TikTok.
What time do you wake up?
What do you have for breakfast?
Depending on how organised we are in our house, it's usually just some Vogels and a black coffee.
Do you have an exercise routine?
I used to be a very gym-like person. And when I lived in London I walked everywhere. Then when Covid hit, I went from being active to being really inactive. I have just started to do some gentle yoga via YouTube. I try to do that at least a couple of times a week.
I used to get so frustrated when people were like, ‘oh, do yoga’, but when you're in a bigger body it is really hard to figure out how to do the things, and you get really self-conscious.
I have a few people I follow on Instagram. It has been really interesting in terms of being more connected to a community of people who are trying to raise awareness around fat bodies. There is a generational shift there - talking openly about body positivity and things like that, which certainly was not happening when I was in my early 20s.
There is a preconceived idea that fat people don't want to move, but if people bothered to engage, it is about trying to figure out what is best for your body, and having the autonomy to do it and not feel like you have to compare yourself.
Do you use supplements?
If I can remember it's vitamin C on the regular.
Whose advice/influence do you genuinely value and listen to when it comes to wellbeing and taking care of yourself?
I try to listen to my parents, partner and friends. The advice is usually to have some down device time, and not have Zoom meetings at 10pm at night (I still have commitments in the United Kingdom, the time difference is not helpful).
My mum talks about my sisters and I being overachievers since we were kids. We were always the ones who were doing the most and trying the hardest, and giving it everything.
My sisters are both super successful, in terms of having that autonomy to decide what success looks like; not like what society is telling us.
Then there is my art community; most of them are in London.They are my go-tos for what is happening in the world - some are DJs such as Lady Shaka, another one is a punk rock singer.
Do you sleep soundly?
I can nap anywhere. I am one of those people who will put my head down, have 20 minutes and be ready to go. I don't think we are built to sleep for eight- to 10 hours.
I would love four hours’ sleep, wake up, do some things, go back to sleep for four hours, if that was acceptable in society. But I try to get between six and eight hours, I feel like that is a good number.
I know sleep is really important, not only for rest, but to help regulate all the other things your body needs to get through the day.
How do you deal with the stress of failure?
I try to zoom out and focus on the big picture, and share with family and friends how I am feeling. I usually then go visit the moana; I look at the moana as being an ancestor. Being near it, just sitting there, staring and talking. Sometimes I do go in, usually in my clothes, and just lie there and float.
How do you deal with stressed employees, colleagues?
Sometimes it is as simple as talking it through, and bite-sizing. Like, what shall we do in the next hour, next day and then over the week. I ask them how I can help, even if it is to listen and affirm where they are at.
What do you do for fun?
I love spacies (like the arcade ones), shopping for vinyl (records), sitting at St Heliers doing crossword puzzle games with my mum and dad and swimming/lying in the moana.
What has been the biggest change you have made when it comes to looking after your health, and mental health and wellbeing?
Probably just thinking about it, like acknowledging where I am at (physically, emotionally, spiritually), and knowing that "pushing through" is not a thing.