Don't be fooled: healthy living taken to the extreme has a very toxic side (and we'll tell you why)

When it finally seemed like we could get rid of the diet culture (the faith that if, through effort, we achieved a slim body all our problems would be solved) came new ways to make us feel guilty. Although it took decades to assume that counting calories would not lead to bliss, we still believe that happiness awaits us when we return from some self-improvement process. Social networks and the media propose meditation, yoga and mindfulness as some of the spiritual ways to achieve that peace, as well as eliminating alcohol, gluten or processed foods in their dietary version, or practicing minimalism at the same time. Marie Kondo is her domestic side. The list expands: ceramics, powerwalking, heart coherence, hoponopono (apologize for mistakes), forest baths, Whole30 (real food) … When we fail to follow their rigorous instructions or they do not produce that desired harmony, the guilt, the frustration, the self-criticism, the stigma and the shameAs with diet culture.

Seasonal doctrines

From the outset, one would have to wonder why every little bit a new wellness habit with a redemptive vocation. “We live in a denatured society: impossible schedules, rush, too much asphalt, hyperproductivity demands absolutely unreal – replies the psychologist María Fornet -. Not drinking alcohol, maintaining order or practicing meditation are habits that objectively have the potential to improve our health and our lives. Science has little discussion there. Now I think the keyword here is fashion, with all that it implies: trend, group pressure, emphasis on appearance, mutability … Of course it is a good idea not to drink alcohol and that no one could harm a tidier house, the problem is to turn these suggestions into moralistic doctrines with which to measure our performance, or worse, our worth as people ”, adds the psychologist.

Answers, not recipes

Stop comparing ourselves with others and modulate our expectations should be the first step if we really want to change some negative pattern in our lives. “The human being is usually quite effective at imposing magic recipes on the search for perfection, which only responds to the anxiety XXI century. Many are enslaved with diets, gyms, with being successful or facing all their problems, and also hope to end the day in a state of peace (and perfection) because, despite that intensity, they meditate for 10 minutes and tidy up their house. This is not real, ”explains psychologist Aída Rubio, coordinator of the TherapyChat team of psychologists. In his opinion, “although some people have found an answer through, for example, sobriety or meditation, Your own disorder, your anxiety, your low mood or your problem may not be solved by these guidelines alone. Perhaps the problem is the high expectations of change that you had regarding these attitudes and to think that what works for "everyone" should also be for you: if you are looking for a change in your life, surely no psychologist would guide you simply to meditate or tidy up your house; if anything, they would be some of the pieces to support a much stronger work of personal growth ”, he assures.

Small big steps

To the relief of many, studies are beginning to become public showing that while all positive habits seem desirable, there is no universal panacea for wellness. For example, according to research from the University College London, meditation is not for everyone (25% say it is even unpleasant for them) and other research from the University of Pennsylvania has shown that comparing ourselves with others has effects on our physical health (in addition to the mental).

Adjusting expectations will make the difference between enjoying doing something or suffering for it, making it easier to acquire healthy habits. "

If we want to improve any pattern in our life, it is better to listen to ourselves instead of the latest great healthy Instagram trend. "Adjusting one's expectations taking into account our own reality will make the difference between enjoying doing something or suffering from it and, therefore, will increase the chances of acquiring a new healthy habit," explains psychologist Sheila Estévez, for whom the key would lie in working the security in oneself. “Not giving value to what has been achieved, feeling less than others, nurturing a poor self-concept and have the feeling of not meeting social expectations (accepted as our own) are signs that we must work on security in ourselves. And this is achieved on the basis of knowing our strengths and also our weaknesses, which helps us to set and maintain our own limits, ”says Estévez.

Another way to keep frustration at bay, according to psychologist Aída Rubio, is to flexibility: “It is important not to be radical in the processes of change: either I take it or I leave it, or all or nothing, or it solves my life or it is not worth it. This is what is known as a cognitive distortion and it is a thinking error because it is not useful, it does not help you in your situation, it generates intense uncomfortable emotions and, in short, it is not adaptive and goes against what you want, which is to grow ”.

María Fornet agrees with her when she points out that “the all or nothing was never a good ally in the establishment of new habits. It works better to start taking steps (no matter how small) in the desired direction ”. This address may not be a viral challenge. "The interesting question is:" Where does my intention come from? " – Fornet raises -. If I want to drink less for a true and genuine attempt to improve my health, let's give it a try, let's see how it makes us feel. "