Figures just released by the Global Wellness Institute (GWI) in the US show that the wellness industry takes in US$4.2 trillion in annual global spend (up from US$3.7 trillion in one year!) and its no longer a niche market focused on the monied folk either, it’s mainstream. Just maybe our addictive endorphins of manic consumption are being usurped by the feel-good serotonin that comes with a more sustainable and meaningful lifestyle. As I have mentioned before, actively working in this industry for so long has given me advance exposure to these trends, many of which I have written about, including the continued rise in wellness tourism, personalised diets, meditation and sustainable fashion.
The following is my edited take on the future of wellness based on the 2019 GWI report:
We are finally getting real and taking a hard look at our fashion consumption and have entered a new era that is healthier for the planet and ourselves. The overproduction of cheap garments has fuelled a massive human and pollution problem and the future is about sustainably sourced natural fibres (think organic cotton, linen, silk, hemp, alpaca) as well as semisynthetic fibres that degrade easily and safely. The Hong Kong-based fashion-forward warrior Christina Dean, founder of Redress, (see book review here) has long been ahead of the curve and continues to lead the way. My other favourite is Stay Wild Swim created by eco-trendsetter Zanna Van Dijk. Check out her stunning collections formulated from recycled ocean plastic.
Meditation goes mainstream
Reminiscent of yoga 20 years ago, meditation is growing by the day with dedicated studios popping up in all corners of the world offering many variants of the practice including chakra meditations, gong meditation, the rebirth of TM (already on my 2019 list) amongst others. Daily meditation practitioners are no longer viewed as ‘weirdos’ but very much on trend as they experiment with various types of practice to find what works best for them.
Nature as Therapy
Science is now proving that the closer we get to nature the better off we are physically and emotionally - hence the rise in wild swimming, the Japanese trend for Shinrin-yoku or forest bathing and nature-inspired books including The Wild Remedy: How Nature Mends Us by Emma Mitchell. [Review to come soon but this is a truly inspiring journal of how nature has helped the author cope with chronic depression.]
The science of smell is experiencing a renaissance as, thanks to advances in technology and neuroscience, scientists are uncovering the impact of scent on our physical and emotional wellbeing. This is yet another rebirth as aromatherapy has been around since ancient times, but science now tells us that the brain creates memories connected to certain aromas. Scent therapy helps ground and relax us and can be a powerful healer for those suffering from neurological disorders and dementia for instance.
I rarely write the word ‘diet’ as it always brings me to a negative place of deprivation, failure and calorie counting. But the rise in veganism, gluten free diets, paleo and others, has left us even more confused about how much of what we should be eating to look and feel our best. Enter personalised nutrition, where with some simple genetic testing and blood analysis food plans can be personalised to suit specific body types. Many of these tests are self administered and are more widely available and affordable now, although I am not suggesting that they are reliable!). Wearing my nutrition hat, I am not convinced but what is potentially good is that these tests might end the restriction so many people place on themselves, often in the false hope that by removing specific food groups like carbohydrates or fat from their diet, they will feel better, when in fact many of these radical changes may be doing the opposite.
Quite a morbid topic, especially in the West where we are so afraid of death, but the ‘death positive’ movement is now very much a part of the overall wellness conversation. From what a healthy death should look like to a surge in creative eco-friendly burial options and the rise in death doulas who help create the space for people to die with dignity (like the doulas who help women give birth in nurturing surrounds). Once again, nothing new as other cultures have celebrated death as an integral part of the natural lifecycle.
Leading photo courtesy of the magical Ananda in the Himalayas where meditation is the order of the day