What wellness looks like in 2021
Wellness trends I can get behind. Our perspective on health and wellness is changing. We’re beginning to get tired of pills and prescriptions for all of our ailments, and starting to take on an active role in our wellbeing. We started to think more about coming together as a community, taking care of our planet by switching to plant-based diets, using natural products, and shopping locally. We look forward to turning our phones off during vacations, upped our self care game, and learned that our breath can be the ultimate tool to de-stress. Below I’ve listed 7 wellness trends I’ve noticed that don’t actually make me cringe.
1. SELF CARE ISN’T JUST FOR SUNDAYS
Taking care of ourselves takes on a more important role, as it should. No matter how indulgent the term may sound, self-care is crucial for our physical, emotional and mental well-being. Being a workaholic is not something to strive towards. The accompanying stress and exhaustion can contribute to all sorts of issues, such as anxiety and depression, insomnia, and even heart disease. I know you’re busy. You have to go to work, walk the dog, cook dinner. A gentle reminder that taking care of yourself has just as much right to be on that priority list. It doesn’t have to be extraordinary. Little things like sipping tea while listening to the raindrops, enjoying a bubble bath, or reading a book are easy everyday examples. Try creating at-home relaxation rooms (or corners, if you live in an apartment like me), cooking meals at home, trying new things, prioritizing sleep, spending more time with the trees, taking longer baths, getting more creative and taking time just to simply breathe.
2. DIGITAL DETOXING
On that note, in an era of constant connection, what so many of us actually crave is to completely disconnect. Shutting off has become the ultimate luxury, and for some of us, it takes an intentional cellphone free getaway to do so. Dare I say many of us are addicted to our cellphones. Being aware of this dependence can force us to rethink what we value. So much of our lives exist on a tiny screen in your pocket. What happens if you turn it off? Even just for an hour. Nothing, I’ll bet. Try it with the intention of reconnecting to your life, yourself, and your loved ones.
3. CLEANSING YOUR SPACE
“Clear your space, clear your mind,” so they say. There are studies about this. The more visual stimuli we have competing for attention, the less able we are to focus on the task at hand. When I walk into a messy office or space, I can feel my mental, emotional, and physical response. Almost immediately I tense up, feel anxious, and lose most of whatever motivation I had. Ever procrasti-clean? Me too. Instinctively, I think we know that we’ll do better with a organized environment. More and more I see people focusing on decluttering and tidying up their virtual and physical spaces. Minimalism is in. I love Marie Kondo’s approach to donating everything that doesn’t “spark joy.” It’s a great way to set the stage for a calm and enjoyable space where we can relax and spark creativity in. That being said, even when everything is filed, folded and sparkling, some of us may live a life that is overcommitted and may feel overwhelmed by other things—people, thoughts, constant activity.” An organized space can help set you up for success but it’s not the key to success. As always, it comes back to intention and awareness. If your cleaning leads you to self-sabotage (obsessing, missing appointments, decreased social engagements, or you’re late to work or school), definitely put down the broom, brush, or sponge and think about the “why”.
4. FACE TO FACE COMMUNICATION
Texting is so convenient. Its also taken over as our main form of communicating with each other. Why is this a bad thing? When texting takes over as our main form of communication, replacing phone calls or in person meetings, it can perpetuates the epidemic of loneliness we find ourselves in. When we have important conversations over text, we’re missing out on most of the message, getting none of the non verbal information, and hearing none of the emotion, inflection, and intention behind the message. Can we count that as a productive conversation? I’m sure I’m not the only one who has tried to say something over text that I should have said in person, and had it backfire miserably. Utilize texting. It’s not going anywhere, and it plays a vital role in how we communicate today. Many people are starting to realize that texting is a tool, and not a means to an end. Try meeting up for tea or coffee instead, really focusing on building connection and community.
This is become even more important in 2021, as many of our face to face interactions have been reduced. Resist the urge to pick up the message, and try for a Facetime call instead. You still don't have to leave your apartment.
5. GOING LOCAL Buying local is better. It’s more sustainable, allows for better quality, and strengthens the community. Big chain stores are convenient, but they require a ton of packaging, shipping costs and expenditure, and they take the money out of the community. Goods produced in the community they are sold require less transportation, meaning we’re helping Mama Earth. Studies have also shown that when purchases are made from locally owned business owners, the proceeds circulate in the community for three times longer. Buying local also allows us a chance to get to know eachother, and to share and appreciate eachothers skills. Buying local food is no different. It helps you develop a connection with food.You become more aware of what you’re putting in your body.It’s better for you. Local farms usually still rotate crops, something big farms don’t do anymore. This means the soil remains enriched with micronutrients and thus your veggies are more nutrient dense. Many local small farms are also more conscious of their pesticide choices, as the food they grown usually goes towards feeding themselves and their families. Do your research and get to know your farmers.It tastes better. Way better.You learn how to cook with the seasons, and get to try new things you may have never heard of before. Romanesco broccoli and Black futsu squash are some of my new faves.Try checking out your local farmers markets, or looking into a CSA box like this one from Glen Valley Co-Op (which I have been a part of for the past five years and it’s literally changed the way I look at food)
Countless studies have linked the way we breathe to sensations in our bodies. Controlling our breath can activate our parasympathetic nervous system, the “rest and digest” part of your central nervous system. This can help lower heart rate, lower blood pressure, and help with stress and disease. Studies have established a link between how breathing affects neuron clusters in the brain, and different emotional states of mind. The practice of intentional breathing has been proven to ease depression, anxiety, and, in some studies, even post-traumatic stress disorder. Wim Hof, the “Iceman”, credits his seemingly superhuman feats of endurance to the physiological changes that his breathing techniques impart. He claims his breathing practice allows him to run half marathons barefoot, jump into ice baths, and hold his breath in arctic water for 10 minutes. Why breath? Why jump into freezing arctic water? Wim Hof states it’s due to a "connection between mind and body that allows us to quell the primal desire to run from pain and fear — or from the cold." “I found by deeper breathing, going into the cold, thinking about it, dealing with it; getting the conviction that my ability to breathe deeper is making connections with my body,” he says. “If you go into the ice cold you have to go deep. There is no other way. It is just bloody cold.” 6. FOOD AS MEDICINE Hippocrates said “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food” over 2000 years ago. Food and nutrition has been a foundational pillar of health for a long time. We are what we eat, after all. We’re all getting tired of taking pills for the pills we take, choosing instead to look towards what we eat every day. Garlic, thyme, and ginger can help boost the immune system. Local honey can help with allergies and infections. Rosemary increases blood flow to the brain, so bring a sprig with you to smell when studying or concentrating. Cinnamon, can help balance blood sugars, cleansing, and is anti-inflammatory.
8. STAYING SOBER Alcohol is a major part of our culture, and can wreak havoc on your body. However, more and more people are choosing to forgo the alcohol, with many cities even seeing the emergence of mocktail bars. Alcohol is inherently inflammatory, and with inflammation being the common denominator in almost every illness out there, this is one trend I can definitely get behind.
Instead of going for the usual glass of wine or beer, try something different. An interesting tea blend, a craft soda, or some rosemary infused sparkling water.
And there you have it.