When diet and fitness are taken to the extremes you will often find they achieve the opposite effect from what they were intended. If your ‘wellness routine’  – AKA the habits you have adopted to make your life better, start to cause you stress and anxiety, they need to stop. This is called the performative wellness trap. Wellness and anxiety shouldn’t even be in the same ballpark yet their lines have become increasingly muddled together.

The global wellness industry is booming. Since 2015 it has grown over 12% from $3.7 trillion to $4.2 trillion and now we are all overwhelmed with choice. Despite the logic of the more choice, the better, recent studies have shown that too much choice is effecting peoples mental health when it comes to wellness. The focus needs to shift from body image to overall health.

Social Media Influence

Instagram is overrun with images of healthy meals and gym workouts. You only have to talk to a few young people to start to realise how deeply rooted the social pressure towards wellness is. Flashy marketing and celebrity promotions start the vicious cycle when the viewers feel they have to keep up with the latest trends.

Focus towards wellness should be much more simple, a well balanced diet and regular exercise. The pressure people feel to partake in performative wellness is a gateway to anxiety, depression and low self esteem. There is an unspoken pressure that is eating away at the very thing a healthy lifestyle is all about.

Why should I exercise if it doesn’t make me look good?

Exercise is a part of wellness and wellness is a holistic approach to life. Exercise is a way to maintain a healthy lifestyle and improve your mental and physical health. It lowers stress levels and reduces anxiety and depression. But not when your reason for exercising stems from social pressure and body image. When you latch onto exercise as a way to change your appearance, it develops a toxic relationship with it. This leads to exercise disorders that can cause serious health consequences. When we exercise for reasons not attached to our appearance, we develop a healthy relationship with it, that’s neither toxic or stressful. And yet, we still reap the physical, emotional and mental benefits that come with it. As the old saying goes, ‘healthy mind = healthy body’, so it’s what we choose to focus on that really matters.

Lin Bell, one of Byron Bay’s most experienced Kinesiologist and counsellors says ‘When someone really wants to look after themselves, there is a willingness to drop their image of how they’re perceived by others. There’s an inner decision to come to a place of self-love and self-acceptance. This can happen at any age, usually when there’s a realisation that peer pressure, social media pressure and model pressure isn’t it’.

So go easy on yourselves everyone. The wellness industry is generally a fantastic thing if we take a simple approach towards it.

This article was written by freelance writer, Lachlan Cornell