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The Daily Tar Heel

Recently, when I go to bed, I wonder if I should be journaling. When I wake up, I feel like I should be stretching. When I walk around campus, I think about how my heavy backpack and poor posture are contributing to the deterioration of my health. When I’m with my friends, I wonder if I’m being present enough. When I’m using my phone at night, I wonder if I need blue light glasses. When I read a corny romance novel, I’m stressed that I’m not reading a self-help book that will “change my life.”

Beauty influencers have been making us anxious and insecure since the rise of YouTube beauty vloggers over a decade ago. At this point, there is public awareness about the damaging impact of watching and comparing yourself to people online trying to sell you any beauty product they can get their hands on. 

But have you heard of wellness TikTok? This sly outgrowth of lifestyle influencing is ruining my life when it’s supposed to do the exact opposite. 

Every day when I open TikTok, I am overwhelmed. I am attacked by not only influencers, but therapists, chiropractors, doctors, nurses, aestheticians, hypnotists and a whole host of other people about my daily habits. 

My "For You" page is full of videos recommending skincare products, criticizing and suggesting improvements for my posture, diagnosing me with irreparable trauma that supposedly ruins all my relationships or recommending that I make a huge mindset shift. They all inundate me with buzzwords and hacks that are supposed to change my life. 

I’m inadvertently doom-scrolling self-help videos, and the resulting inadequacy I feel is worse than that from any beauty ad. With traditional beauty influencing — makeup, hair product recommendations or tutorial videos — I can scroll by without feeling like I’m self-sabotaging. I can simply refuse to click into the video and avoid soaking up the influencer’s knowledge of the blush of the season, for example. 

But when I scroll past a video telling me that journaling will fix all my problems, or that I should be doing nervous system regulation practices every night, I can’t help but think: Would that practice actually improve my wellbeing? Should I try it? 

Soon enough, I’m laying on the couch diagnosing myself with problems I didn’t even know existed. 

This wellness pressure phenomenon seemed to rise as a response to hustle or grind culture that was (and still is) so prevalent both on social media and in our lives. After the "all-work-no-play" attitude of hustle culture TikTok ran its course, wellness influencers' seemingly forgiving and relaxed mindset gained popularity. 

The same influencers on TikTok that were once preaching hard work and self-sacrifice are hopping into their “self-care era,” suddenly deciding now is the time to fill their lives with so-called wellness practices. Even worse, they’re telling us that we should too, even though our lives may not afford us the same free time. 

As college students, we have long to-do lists. Habits like journaling or stretching in the morning should enrich your life, not add pressure or stress. Social media like TikTok has the power to make wellness information accessible to a wide audience and promote well-being, which is great. 

But while influencers spend their day monetizing off self-help tactics and wellness practices, the average student would be lucky to fit a morning walk in the sun into their busy schedules.  

Influencers can do these things because, for the most part, they aren't students who are going to class, working and participating in clubs. The average person will always feel inadequate to influencers, because we don’t get paid to prioritize wellness.  

I am all for encouraging wellness practices and promoting mental health resources. However, when countless influencers are repeatedly profiting off of telling me how I’m ruining my life with a given habit, I wish they would stick to just convincing me to buy a new mascara. 

We should all be taking care of ourselves, but we should not be competing on how to best do so. It’s not all or nothing, do what makes you feel good. 

@dthopinion | opinion@dailytarheel.com

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