Mental Health and Sustainability
The final topic is one that is not so clearly tied into environmental sustainability which is our mental health when approaching fitness. There's a resounding number of research expounding on the benefits of exercise having a positive impact on our health.
Positive effects include battling dementia and Alzheimer's disease, as well as strong correlation on positive psychological boosts.1This is a physiological benefit but another aspect that needs coverage is the media's effect on our mental well being and how it continues to trap individuals into poor choices and behaviors.
Social Media Culture
The main focus on any social media usage should be interacting with others and entertainment but today 1 in 3 teenage aged adolescent will be following and interacting with some sort of fitness page. The majority of these accounts portrays an unrealistic and unsustainable message of health. These messages run from looking a certain way is the only way to be fit to an unhealthy stigmatization about bodyweight.2
These messages therefore give way to unhealthy habits and behaviors that have a clear and detrimental affect on both your mental, physical and even planetary health. Examples of such include:
- Detox diets that are not nutritional balanced nor do what they say they will do. The majority of them end up being commodity agriculture that does not promote healthy soil nor regeneration.
- Excessive dairy based proteins that come from crowded feedlot cows. This style of agriculture produces much more greenhouse gases than pasture raised cows.3 If one is trying to gain more lean body mass or loss stubborn body fat, the answer constantly promoted is eating more proteins.
- People only portray their highlights, this can be hard when you people don't get to see their day-to-day struggles and what it takes to achieve a certain goal.
Changing our Perception
When we continually compare ourselves to other people we take a skewed view on what being healthy truly means. This requires us to look beyond superficial optics and think more deeply about why we hold certain values in the position that we do.
First is to look at happiness, and the idea that being by adopting more well rounded goals we can improve better our mental well being and thereby positively influencing our decision making for our purchasing choices.
Secondly deciding to stop following accounts that promote "fitsporation" or detox style advice decreases exposure and improves our day to day well being. One by not keeping people looking at messages that promote feelings of not being good enough but also another way to lessen our negative behaviors that impact our health and planet.
This TED talk by Michele Lou Lan was a video that helped clarify for me the fact that social media likes to only highlight perfection. We ignore that we can get overwhelmed by comparing ourselves to other people's highlights. It's important to embrace a healthier view of ourselves and think more about who you should be not who think we need to become. By adopting a more forward positive view of ourselves can we move forward with better decisions for both ourselves and the planet.
Think About While Watching:
How does your psyche change based your social media habits?
In what way does your own social media habits alter people's perceptions of who you are versus who you want to project into the world? Is this healthy for you or not?
How do you feel changing your perception may positively impact your decision making around environmental health?
1 Biddle S. Physical activity and mental health: evidence is growing. World Psychiatry. 2016;15(2):176–177. doi:10.1002/wps.20331
2 Carrotte ER, Vella AM, Lim MS Predictors of “Liking” Three Types of Health and Fitness-Related Content on Social Media: A Cross-Sectional Study J Med Internet Res 2015;17(8):e205