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Unwell from Wellness Culture

A Social-Media Induced Brain Fog

Recently I picked up on a recurring theme in my daily routine: when I wake up, I have a typically clear head. I try not to use my phone or go on socials until mid-morning, which allows me to get right out of bed without a morning ‘scroll.’ If I’m working out, I’ve found that my most creative, novel ideas are coming to me right in the middle of that movement. Thoughts like “I should write a book,” “this is the perfect podcast idea,” and “this is what I want to do with my career” are flowing through my head. This clarity feels like drinking a big glass of cold water. I welcome it, and it feels good.

...but by the end of the day when I crawl into bed? My thoughts are usually muddled. Aside from working and interacting with other people from 8-5 (a task exhausting in and of itself), I’ve been on and off my phone and social media all day, and I've been, ahem, ‘influenced’ by countless sources. Sometimes, it’s hard to even disseminate what thoughts are my own and what thoughts are coming from people online. I’m usually questioning myself, worrying, and pondering the heavy-weighing questions of whether or not I’m doing enough or doing it right - especially in the world of health and wellness.

I knew I needed to take a serious step back from social media when I started genuinely believing that I needed both a nutritionist and a personal trainer. Out of almost nowhere, I was feeling incredibly doubtful that I was 1) fueling my body properly or 2) working out “good enough” - whatever that means, anyway. The thoughts crept in and started to consume me. When looking for the variables of why I felt this way, I knew deep down that my social media exposure, especially on Instagram, fueled these thoughts.

In a moment of curiosity, I’d (despite my better judgment) done a deep-dive into some well-known trainers’ 6 week guides, nutrition packages, and weightlifting/health tips.

While there is nothing inherently wrong with any of those things, I had exposed myself to so much of it that suddenly, I was negating my own flexible, balanced mindset to undermine it with the thought of “you’re doing everything wrong”. There it was: a mindset that I have worked years to create and maintain, all contradicted by the blue light of my iPhone.

Before I knew it, I had spent close to a week in the black hole of Instagram “wellness” influencers. I was confused and frustrated from information overload, and more than anything, I was EXHAUSTED. My brain was on overdrive, telling me…

…I needed to buy more supplements. Collagen peptides, specifically. Also, the Athletic Greens supplements (at a small price of ~$80 per tub) would be bound to help me operate at peak performance. They’re full of adaptogens (what the hell is an adaptogen?).

…I’m definitely not lifting heavy enough in the gym. Getting toned with lighter weights is a lie. My workouts are essentially pointless right now, and YouTube and Pinterest workouts are ridiculous. I needed to do a regimented lifting workout repeatedly to see real results.

…I should be cutting out more sugar, it’s toxic, it’s “addicting.” I need a 7-day guide to

‘Detox’ my gut of it. Come to think of it, I probably didn’t know what I was doing with my nutrition at all. I should consult an expert to find my ideal macros.

And, the most insidious thought of all that crept in:

…I’m losing control of my body. I need to try harder. I need to have more “willpower.”

The most surprising part? Before my deep-dive, I was feeling like I’d established good health rituals for myself. My workouts were enjoyable, I was eating in a way that felt good, and overall, what I was doing was working…until I told myself it wasn’t.

Social media and wellness culture made me doubt myself entirely. It made me less trusting of my own instincts and intuition. It pitted my brain against my body, making me believe that I didn’t know how to take care of myself in the optimal way, and that I needed the help of online “experts” to operate at peak performance. The more I moved around in the quicksand that is Instagram wellness culture, the further into it I sank.

Snap Back to Reality

Throughout all this, there was a nagging voice in the back of my mind. It kept saying “these aren’t your own organic thoughts. Take a step back.” So, I listened to that small echo and brought it to the forefront of my mind. I knew it was time for a social media break so I could reclaim my own thoughts.

I took a 3-day break from all social media. It was honestly really hard. I didn’t even realize how much time I was wasting scrolling on my phone, consuming the thoughts and opinions of other people. I simply felt like I had SO much time (too much time, to be honest) to fill. While I’ll admit I had the natural FOMO of not being constantly in the loop on socials, the jarring feeling of being separated from it all felt really good. Slowly, the fog in my brain lifted and the veil I had placed over my own original thoughts was pulled back.

After 3 days, I redownloaded the apps but continue to try and monitor myself on them. Truthfully, it’s tough. Our world has become so intricately laced with social media and the internet that trying to distance yourself from it feels very uncomfortable. It feels like you’re missing out on something important, something special - even if it’s really not. Despite that, I think it’s worth it to try and create that space when you can. Remember not to get too absorbed in it, or it will turn you into someone you don’t recognize.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that YOU know yourself best. Proceed with caution when you’re feeling heavily influenced by social media, especially in the world of wellness culture. Remember that at the end of the day, influencers are mainly operating for power and money. Their “suggestions” on products are typically marketing campaigns to boost their status and make them commissions.

Most importantly, remember there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to life. While something is working for someone else, it doesn’t mean you have to make that work for you, and you don’t even owe it to anyone to try.

If you already feel satisfied with your routines, already trust the decisions you’re making, and feel that you treat your body with the care and respect that it deserves - then you’re already doing the absolute best thing you can be doing for yourself…and simply put, that’s good enough.

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