Column: Here's an idea - if you don’t have anything to say you could just try staying silent

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Wellness is to health care as a nutritionist is to a dietician, in that it sounds like it’s related but it’s totally unregulated and mainly nonsense. Yet I love reading about all of the new wellness trends, says comedian and writer Steve N Allen.

It wasn’t that long ago that grown adults were filling in colouring books to achieve mindfulness and no-one thought it was a con.

Since then, I have had children and find myself finishing pages of their colouring books when the kids lose interest but my obsessive compulsions can’t leave anything unfinished.

So much for making my mental health better.

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Guest columnist Steve N Allen is a writer and comedian.Guest columnist Steve N Allen is a writer and comedian.
Guest columnist Steve N Allen is a writer and comedian.

The latest trend is silent retreats. These are places where you can go and you’re not allowed to talk. For around £800-a-week, you too could attend a silent retreat. Activities include yoga, which might make it the first time someone has started yoga and not gone on about it for weeks on end.

You have to turn your phone off and you’re not allowed to read. Even knitting is discouraged. I know there are many habits people need to crack that use needles but I don’t think knitting is one of them.

When you go for a walk, you are given a badge to wear that explains that you’re on a silent retreat and cannot speak. I think I’d simply risk being seen as rude rather than seen as the kind of person who’d spend money on this.

Former Tory MP Rory Stewart goes on such retreats for up to 11 days a year. He said, well, not much, hopefully.

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It’s clearly the kind of self-obsessed and performative nonsense that bored middle-class people get up to but there might be something in it. Like London Fashion Week with people on the catwalk looking a right mess but some core themes make it to the High Street. There are some key points we could all learn from.

We don’t have to spend good money to go to a place to sit in silence. There are coffee shops, libraries and some marriages where that happens for free.

We don’t have to plunge ourselves into days of zero decibel existence but we could learn to shut up a bit. If you don’t have anything to say you could stay silent. Trim out the small-talk.

If you are telling a story about something that happened at work, maybe get right into the detail instead of five minutes of biographical details that your partner doesn’t care about.

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Talking less might not directly improve your wellness, but it could help the wellness of the people around you.

Follow Steve on X @mrstevenallen

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