Circadian Health. A major shift in wellness will focus less on sleep and more on addressing circadian health. From apps to diets to glasses that filter out the constant glow from our screens, solutions for the type and timing of light exposure will be addressed to not only fight fatigue and improve sleep quality but to boost the brain and body systems controlled by the circadian clock.
Aging Rebranded. The World Health Organization predicts the 60-plus population will nearly double—from 12 percent to 22 percent—by 2050. They’re living longer and healthier, and brands are finally catering to this oft-ignored demographic, adding new products and experiences that attest to the vibrancy of baby boomers and treat them with the same aspirational design and marketing afforded to younger people.
J-Wellness. In the last few years, Japanese wellness approaches became global trends, from the spiritual value of minimalism (made viral by Marie Kondo) to forest bathing (Shinrin-Yoku) to tea ceremonies. All eyes will be on Japan this summer as they host the Olympics, further spurring fascination an ever-evolving culture of ancient-meets-modern approaches, products and solutions for beauty and well-being.
Tapping Tech for Mental Health. The next year will see a big spike in the adoption of telehealth, both in the mental healthcare space as well as in primary care. Consumers’ embrace of convenient treatments as well as interest in self-care will transform how employers, universities and local governments offer subsidized mental wellness care. Some start-ups are even going so far as to gamify mental wellness with apps like SuperBetter, in which players accrue points by persevering through stressful situations, completing breathing exercises and breaking bad habits.
Energy Medicine. Western medicine and ancient medicines (TCM, Ayurveda and Shamanic traditions) tend to take radically different approaches to healing but are now finding some common ground. More wellness destinations, like Six Senses Resorts’ “Grow a New Body” program—dubbed “neo-shamanism”—will bring the two together, incorporating energy-medicine evaluations with doctors, light therapies, altitude training, and ozone and oxygen therapies alongside shamanic approaches including mitochondria-boosting diets, fasting, plant medicine, and intensive spiritual work to clear negative emotions.
Organized Religion. At some churches, synagogues and mosques, congregations no longer want to separate their physical and spiritual needs but to fuse them together in new ways. This ranges from aerobic fitness classes to meditative retreats, all reworked with religious liturgy and biblical references. There are now boutique fitness studios solely devoted to worship or which cater to religious constraints. We see Ramadan bootcamps, Jewish Sabbath service hikes, Christian wellness retreats, Catholic Pilates classes and Muslim fitness YouTube channels. Groups also expand audiences through wellness apps and platforms, including Faithful Workouts (an online Christian ministry of streaming workouts infused with sermons and Christian music) and Soultime (an app providing guided meditation through a religious lens).
The Wellness Sabbatical. Transformation comes from longer wellness experiences, but most of us have jobs. That’s the heartbeat of the wellness sabbatical, a concept primed to shake up the future of travel by intentionally blending days of work and wellness at destinations in creative and practical ways.
The Fertility Boom. Celebrities and newsmakers ranging from Kim Kardashian to Mark Zuckerberg shared their personal experiences with trying to conceive; numerous countries expanded health coverage to include IVF; and Silicon Valley funded a number of startups attempting to solve every issue impacting fertility—for both men and women. Even the fertility clinic, once a dreaded place to get poked and prodded, has been transformed, with newcomers reimagining IVF treatment much like a spa experience. It’s just the start of what many see as a fem-tech revolution.
Wellness Music. There’s been an uptick in the scientific evidence for how music impacts the brain, heart rate and sleep patterns. Music therapy’s potential is so immense that the National Institutes of Health just awarded $20 million to fund a Sound Health Initiative to uncover new applications to treat everything from PTSD to autism. Meanwhile, recording artists are incorporating wellness experiences into their concerts, whether mass sound baths, meditation or aromatherapy. Full-blown audio-wellness festivals are rising. And mega-meditation app Calm has a super-popular “Sleep” channel featuring tracks designed to work as adult lullabies by artists such as Moby and Sabrina Carpenter.
Science! The wellness industry has been ripe for more rigorous reckoning, and we’ll soon see watchdogs drawing clearer distinctions between legitimate approaches and practitioners and charlatans who give wellness a bad name. There are tens of thousands of medical studies on wellness approaches, and resources like wellnessevidence.com provide direct access to the evidence (pro or con). Given the recent cultural crisis over fact and fiction, science and belief, and shrill opinion versus collective, it’s time for truth—and science—to make a comeback.
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