In a joint media event today, where GWI released new country-specific global wellness economy research, its sister organization GWS (Global Wellness Summit) released is its annual – and highly anticipated – Wellness Trends Report.
The Future of Wellness 2022 global wellness trends report is the only forecast based on the perceptions of thought leaders who gather each year at the Global Wellness Summit, making for a uniquely informed, global and usually spot-on set of predictions.
The key takeaway?
What we want has profoundly changed, and wellness is taking alluring new directions.
So what are the 2022 Wellness Trends? Let’s dive in.
Trend #1: Dirt-y Wellness
As any avid gardener will tell you, digging into the earth with your hands is immensely satisfying and grounding. Describing our current status as “soil deprived indoor cats,” the GWS says awareness of soil health is set to be a major theme.
Understanding – and advocating – the link between soil exposure and human microbiomes, immunity and mental health will increase, as well the need to improve soil health globally.
After all, the literal future of our planet depends on it. Watch for indoor spaces teeming with healthy soil microbes, the greening of more and more urban spaces, and farm to guest experiences as we go “back to the soil.”
Trend #2: Toxic Muscularity Comes Clean
Vastly considered the realm of women and girls, there is growing evidence that men and boys are increasingly unhappy with their bodies and how they look. Blame social media? Maybe.
There has been a rise in male eating disorders, including bigorexia, or reverse anorexia, and growing numbers of men are speaking out about it.
Steroid abuse is hiding in plain sight in the improbable shapes of actors, athletes, influencers and action figures, and influencing high school locker rooms. The consequences, both mental and physical (sometimes fatal), may soon be hard to ignore if not addressed.
Trend #3: From Wellness Tech to Technological Wellness
Between wearables, telehealth apps, and smart home gyms, there is no shortage of tech promising to make us well. But the technologies that make up the majority of our screen time are harming our health, not helping it.
As these platforms continue to self-police and regulate to attempt to rewrite wrongs, this trend looks at actual collaboration between tech and wellness to create platforms and apps that prioritize mental health from outset (rather than as an afterthought).
For example, could we treat our tech intake like we treat our food intake? Hello, digital nutrition labels.
Trend #4: Senior Living Disrupted
60 was the new 40 … will 90 be the new 40 within a decade? We are living longer, healthier, active lives, much more so than previous generations, and we don’t want to be defined by age any longer. Old-fashioned senior communities – i.e. being put out to pasture – no longer cut it, and senior living is ripe for change.
The solution? Intentional intergenerational communities with new models for reducing age segregation and increasing connectedness across generations. You know, kind of how families used to live? (And still do as a matter of fact, in the planet’s Blue Zones).
Trend #5: Wellness Travel: Seekers, Welcome
Music to our ears – our last issue focused on REWILDING – tourism is set to be all about nature. We spend 7 hours a day on screens on average (!) and wow do we need fresh air.
”Intention” is the future of travel – as evidenced by the demand for work/life balance and nomadism exploding during this pandemic – and nature, she is a healer.
Watch for more remote spaces, rural places, giving back through citizen science, and forest accommodations as well as exploring the “wisdom of the ancients” through, for example, Indigenous experiences.
Personal quests for spiritual, intellectual, and physical growth, along with the strong desire for community and planet restoration will form a new, hopefully, transformative era in travel.
Trend #6: Innovative Tech Closing the Gender Gap in Medical Research
Chronic underfunding for women’s health issues needs to end. And hope is in sight, thanks to (there’s that word again) technology.
Companies are partnering with researchers and pharma to mine data that can be used to finally address issues like endometriosis, infertility, and menopause in a real way.
Convenient, at-home testing will grow as will virtual trials, meaning many more women will have access. Research institutions and academia are starting to show interest, partnering with a wide range of startups, proving there’s more than one way to collect health information.
Trend #7: Urban Bathhouses & Wellness Playgrounds
We go back to water time and again but it truly is a healer. There is a renaissance around the globe that harkens back to European bathhouse times, where bathing was the true and original heart of spa and wellness.
In urban centres, public playgrounds are merging nature and art with wellness and watersport, and you’ll find saunas popping up alongside rooftop bars.
Trend #8: Next-Gen Naturalism
With new awareness of the radical fragility of life and the planet, a “survivalist wellness” is emerging and it is long overdue.
With so much convenience at our fingertips – meal delivery! Amazon Prime! – this return to self-reliance (or, Rewilding) places value on working with nature, growing food, and living with less.
We already know consumption levels are not sustainable, and both the climate crisis and supply chain disruption have been major drivers of this modern “survivalist” movement.
Outdoor survival schools have seen a 60% increase in year-over-year enrolment, and relearning skills, urban preparedness and food foraging are all hot topics.
Trend #9: Health & Wellness Coaching Gets Certified
If you’ve noticed there seems to be a “coach” for everything, everywhere, you’re not alone. Social media “influence” does not a qualified life/nutrition/wellness coach make – call it “coachwashing” – and we are waking up this fact.
When dealing with healthy choices, behaviour is the toughest nut to crack and evidence-based techniques are needed, not follow me and do as I say.
The new distinction will be rigorous training and certification (for example, from the Mayo Clinic or the Institute for Integrative Nutrition) to understand how to get at intrinsic motivations and change habits over time.
Insurance companies are ready to cover this work, and even physicians are starting to combine medicine with holistic coaching for better results.
Trend #10: Wellness Welcomes the Metaverse
First, a definition: the metaverse is basically an immersive version of the Internet.
From virtual reality and augmented reality to merged reality and haptics, the intersection of wellness here can help companies diversify from gaming, and these new technologies can better engage and impact the health of many more people.
Watch for creative, disruptive new products and services in fitness, beauty, healthy eating, mental wellness, wellness tourism, wellness real estate, spas and workplaces that could radically transform how wellness is delivered.