It’s time to say buh-bye, “performative wellness”—and hello, sanity


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When your wellness routine—AKA the rituals and habits you embraced to make your life better—is stressing you out, things need to change. And for so many people this year, the line between constructive self-care and pure anxiety trigger (as in, just another thing on your already-jammed to-do list) became blurrier than ever before. In 2019, it’s time to simplify, simplify, simplify. And get that wellness-loving mojo back.

“In the age of social media and particularly Instagram, I believe the pressure people feel to engage in performative wellness creates anxiety, self-doubt, and depression,” says author, doula, and wellness maven Latham Thomas, who’s watched the landscape shift and expand as wellness has gone from esoteric to everywhere.

In the process, Instagram feeds have been flooded with picture-perfect healthy meals, #selfcaresunday rituals, and more. (Hey, if you don’t take an in-studio selfie, did your workout even happen?) All of this enthusiasm is infectious and, yes, fun—but it comes with a side of unspoken pressure to perform your healthy-living habits.

“In the age of social media and particularly Instagram, I believe the pressure people feel to engage in performative wellness creates anxiety, self-doubt, and depression.” —Latham Thomas, wellness pioneer

The industry boom—and the staggering number of new fitness, food, and lifestyle options to choose from—is partly to blame. New data shows that since 2015, the global wellness industry has grown 12.8 percent, from $3.7 trillion to $4.2 trillion. That increase is reflected in myriad new and expanded companies, products, and trends—which means more decisions to make (hello, tyranny of choice).

“People have more choices than they’ve ever had in history, and whenever you have a lot of choice, it can be overwhelming,” says David Siik, creator of Equinox’s Precision Running program. He says that in the fitness world, people are hungry to return to basics, as evidenced by the cool-factor resurrection of the treadmill.

But, some want off the proverbial treadmill altogether: 2019 is looking like the year when we get real about what’s doable on a daily basis. The indications are there already—after all, when fitness phenom Kayla Itsines is singing the praises of JOMO, you know something’s up. And while “staying in is the new going out” has been a trend for a while, bonding over the desire for a simpler life has become a national pastime. (Raise your hand if you’ve seen the meme of comedian Hannah Gadsby identifying as “tired.”)

Other ways people are streamlining? In the beauty world, “skip-care” is the new pared-down way to do K-beauty (see ya, 10-step skin-care routine). And the number-one nutritional plan right now is the Mediterranean diet, which is less restrictive than buzzy options like Keto, Paleo, and Whole30. At home, the decluttering craze has taken a more attainable turn with the embrace of wabi-sabi—a Japanese design philosophy that finds beauty in imperfections and is all about embracing your home as it is. (Consider it KonMari’s cozier cousin—the one who will let you eat takeout on the couch.)

Basically, this new wave of self-care involves reclaiming your time—shout out to Congresswoman Maxine Waters—and attention. (Heck, even some of Instagram’s very creators have logged off forever, saying that the platform compromises a sense of well-being.) While opting out of all social media likely isn’t going to happen for most of us in 2019, a back-to-basics wellness revamp is a chance to get back to what made you fall in love with self-care to begin with.

This is just one of the healthy-living trends we’re predicting for 2019—check out the full list here!

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