“Dirty Wellness” Is the New Health Trend That Gives You Permission to Have Cheat Days
When it comes to the umbrella term “wellness”, I have a complicated relationship. While, of course, I want to feel the most “well” I can, there’s an undeniable pressure to stick to a rigid routine made up of juice cleanses, yoga classes, and meditation. And reader, that just isn’t me. I have strived to channel my inner Gwyneth Paltrow with bone broth and tried to refrain from caffeine like Jennifer Lopez to live a “clean” lifestyle, but it’s just not sustainable for me.
And so, these wellness tips have an adverse effect on my mental health. I’ll browse through TikTok and see users promote their seemingly polished lifestyles as they move from pilates to protein shake with daily affirmations in-between, and I’m left feeling like a failure. Which is why the latest health trend of “dirty wellness” is something I can get on board with. Essentially, it’s a less strict version of looking after your wellbeing, allowing yourself room to deviate off the wellness track. It’s all about balance.
“We are all unique human beings with different motivations, skills, abilities, challenges, needs, and resources, so there can’t possibly be one approach to wellness that will work for everyone.”
“We are all unique human beings with different motivations, skills, abilities, challenges, needs, and resources, so there can’t possibly be one approach to wellness that will work for everyone,” Beth Burgess, mental health expert at Smyls, tells POPSUGAR. “Our finances or free time may limit us, and we all have different bodies, too. People are individuals and will do best with wellness goals and habits that fit their unique personality and life circumstances.”
And if that personality means treating yourself to a Dominoes on a Friday night, then so be it. I think the trouble I have had previously is that so much of the wellness movement can feel intimidating. As Burgess says, if sticking to more rigid routines works for you, then that’s great. But for a lot of us, life gets in the way. And the second I break my wellness streak, if you will, I fall off the wagon and move into an unhealthy pattern. Yet “dirty wellness” offers a guilt-free approach to living a healthier lifestyle.
“‘Dirty wellness’ shouldn’t be seen as just a trend; rather it’s a healthier way to live than striving for unattainable, inhuman ideals,” Burgess says. “The fact that ‘dirty wellness’ is trending indicates that people are fed up of being pressured to be and look perfect all the time, effortlessly juggling our fitness with our family and our wellness with our work.”
With the new year approaching, and talk inevitably turning to new year’s resolutions, it’s likely many of us will add exercise, cutting down on alcohol, or practicing mindfulness to our list of 2024 goals. But this new trend allows you room to blur the lines a little.
“‘Dirty Wellness’ is a common-sense bit of pushback. It’s healthier and more sustainable than a stringent regime, especially one so strict you can’t possibly stick to it. A relatively healthy diet with some treats is better for your mind, body, and soul than yo-yoing between fasting and binging,” Burgess says.
“‘Dirty Wellness’ is a common-sense bit of pushback. It’s healthier and more sustainable than a stringent regime, especially one so strict you can’t possibly stick to it.”
Focusing on mental wellness is just as important as the physical, too. Without judgement, what might work for your favourite TikToker just might not work for you. If you feel better going for a run, then do it. If a walk followed by glass of wine with your loved ones fuels your soul, then that works too.
“If you want to set wellbeing goals in 2024, be realistic. Doing wellness activities that you genuinely enjoy will help you stick with them. If you get off track, forgive yourself; you’re human. Make time and space for fun, adventure, and a bit of naughtiness,” Burgess adds. “Remember the law of diminishing returns; if you triple the length of your gym session, you will not get three times the benefit. The human body just doesn’t work like that. So feel free to shorten it and make time for that dinner out.”
“Dirty wellness” has already made me feel as though I can cut myself some slack. I’m going to do the best I can to feel as good as I can, but not beat myself up if I take a weekend off. Finding a routine that works with my busy life is helpful, but life doesn’t always fit into a neat little box, so it’s worth remembering that.
“At the end of 2024, do you really want to look back and be proud of never deviating from your perfect weight and not having had a single pimple for an entire year?” Burgess says. “Or do you want to look back and think, ‘I feel pretty good. My body feels good. But most of all, I’ve had a cracking good time’.” Amen to that!