wellness

Are you 'health signalling'? The new humble brag you're probably guilty of.

From posting sunrise hikes to boasting about your hefty step count and sharing pics of your homemade gluten-free tart made straight from the veggie patch - is it just us, or is 95 per cent of your Instagram content made up of people posting about how healthy and mindful they are? 

Oh, hang on.. are you doing it too? ARE YOU? Probably.

Watch: Here are some scientific happiness tricks you can try. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia

Cause it's 2021 and assuring a sack of absolute strangers that you're a walking entity of health and wellness is just the done thing. 

It even has a name, you know.

It's called (get ready for it) 'health signalling'. And people are calling it the new humble brag.

Image: Giphy

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In case you've been hiding (where have you been?), a humble brag is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as "an ostensibly modest or self-deprecating statement whose actual purpose is to draw attention to something of which one is proud."

Just to be clear, though - the whole 'health signalling' humble brag isn’t actually harming anyone, so pls don't take offense. It’s just mildly annoying. And we all do it. 

For good reason, though. 

Given that the wellness space has absolutely imploded during the last few years - as well as, you know, the whole pandemic thing happening - it actually doesn't come as a major surprise that people want to jump on board everything they can to prove their health, wellbeing and fitness.

"With the rise of technology and the expediential boom of beauty and wellness products, this trend is only set to grow," said skincare expert, nutritionist and founder of Vita-Sol, Fiona Tuck.

So, here's what health signalling actually entails, and just some of the ways you've probably been doing it.

What exactly is health signalling?

"Health signalling encompasses tracking devices, habits and wellness rituals which are then posted about almost as a badge of honour on social media," explains Tuck. 

We cringe. It's so true. We've all seen it/do it.

"This may include tracking steps, mood, sleep patterns, DNA tests or at home beauty regimes to show the world you are taking care of yourself and finding 'me' time."

Why is it suddenly so popular to brag about how healthy you are?

According to Tuck, the trend appeared to really kick off during the pandemic.

"This may be to do with people wanting to feel like they are doing something to support their health and wellbeing and also the fact that we were at home more, possibly feeling stressed, isolated and feeling the need to for connection and validation." 

In other words, we all became pretty into proving we were COVID-negative by broadcasting every indication of health we possible could. 

Y'see, the whole ratty pandemic thing made us all so intrinsically aware of the need to care for our both mental and physical health - and to show people that we were doing so. 

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In turn, we've seen a focus on self-care and a re-prioritising of "wellness" on a whole other level.

"Finding me time, self-love Sundays and finding tests and trackers to monitor our health only serves as a way to further self-indulge our need for self-care," said Tuck.

But apparently it's not just the pandemic talking. 

"We also need to take into consideration many brands pay influencers to post about their products, which then creates a domino effect of want-to-be influencers copycat posting."

So, what does this whole trend mean?

While the pandemic might have ushered in a deeper awareness of mental and physical health for some, Tuck said a lot of what's currently happening with the whole 'health signalling' trend is quite the opposite. 

"Whilst the pandemic certainly shifted our focus on the important things in life [like our] health and wellbeing, the rise in social media content, podcasts, stories, reels and TikTok may be creating a sheep-like mentality of people copying each other to feel like they are fitting in," said Tuck.

Read: No good.

"Whilst some were hoping that the pandemic may cause us to slow down, pause and truly appreciate the simplicities of life, it may have, for some, only fed the narcissistic beast.

"We are being bombarded with more and more people posting stories and pictures about themselves, showing how fit or skin-perfect they are, desperately craving the attention, media and validation that looking like a Kardashian can’t buy."

What a time to be alive.

How do I know if I'm 'health signalling'?

Alrighty. Now for the fun bit. How do you know if you're guilty of the occasional humble brag-fuelled health post? 

Well, if you do any of the below things on the reg - you, friend, are broadcasting major health signals. But again, we're not here to judge - because we're 1000% doing it too.

1. You boast about your step counts.

Do you share pictures of your Apple Watch and your impressive step count on Instagram Stories? DO YOU, SARAH?

Step count boasters are the most obvious form of health signallers, and are all about showing off 10,000 and over steps per day. 

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They are also known to post clips of their coastal walks and hikes (cause, walking), along with new gadgets, shoes and dogs (to support said walking).

2. You grow your own vegetables. And everyone knows.

Have you gone all green thumb on us? Look at you go! Are they allium tuberosum? How magnificent.

If you're one of the dames who took up gardening during lockdown and got really into tending to tomatoes and cross-breeding chilli plants, this is probably you. 

Cause nothing says health like eating the produce you grew with your OWN TWO HANDS. And then making a reel out of how you cooked your dinner - step. by. ring-lit. step.

3. You post Strava screenshots all day, erryday.

If you don't track your run on Strava, did you even run?

Those who aren't posting about their 10,000+ steps every day are using this nifty running app to give all of their Instagram followers/members of their family WhatsApp group a detailed breakdown of just how fit they are. (VERY).

The most common proclamation from the Strava crowd? Those who claim, "Wasn't feeling great today", but still somehow managed to beat a PB. Casual.

4. You wake up early every single morning.

Posting photographs of a sunrise has to be one of *the* best humble brags you can ever ask for. Cause that daily rise and grind isn't quite as impressive without a snap to back up just how early you woke up (always too early).

Just to be clear, though (for all the health signalling novices out there) - the sunrise pic ALWAYS trumps the sunset pic, because the early bird catches the worm etc. etc.

5. You share your post-gym protein smoothie.

Goodness. Did you just complete a 45-minute workout and NOT share a picture of that $14 protein smoothie on your Stories? 

Pls go back and get the shot or it didn't happen.

Feature image: Getty/Mamamia.

Are you guilty of health signalling, too? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.