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AWARE Ink Newsletter

Six Trends in Well-Being for 2022

“I ordered a wake-up call the other day. The phone rang and a woman’s voice said,

‘What are you doing with your life?’”

Orange shoelaces, baggy camo pants, a white sleeveless mesh shirt, a mullet haircut—my mom would love to show you this glorious picture of me. If you had asked me then, I would have predicted that this fashion trend would continue forever. However, the world is much crazier and more unpredictable than my outfit. Predicting trends hasn’t changed that much in centuries. Pandemics? Montana weather? The 80s return in music and fashion? (Wait, maybe my 10-year-old self was right!)

To forecast trends in wellness is a little easier. The long-lasting fallout from COVID-19 will ensure that, although physical and emotional wellness will always be emphasized, so too will feeling safe. Hence, we will likely see more about careful money management, getting involved in your communities, job satisfaction and feeling connected to others. Here are six trends that many experts are predicting.

Trends from 2021 will continue

Physical and mental self-care, virtual training and education, wearable technologies, outdoor activities, nutrition as medicine, and fitness for older adults, among others. Feeling supported and in command of your health were common elements of most wellness trends last year. Yoga is still going strong after Shiva found enlightenment at Mount Kailash thousands of years ago. It is easily one of the longest-lasting wellness “trends” in the history of the world. Also, the man cave. And, playing backgammon. Which ones escaped you last year? Now is the time to get on board.

(Natural) biohacking

I’m not talking about infrared lights, electromagnetic currents, ashwagandha, hydrogen inhalers or drinking “raw water” like a famous hockey player. (Ben Greenfield is always a good resource for this type of stuff if it interests you.) I’m not talking about gene editing technology even if it could give me a lion’s head. I’m not even talking about supplements. More sleep, bathing in nature, moving your body in whatever way fits your schedule and budget and feels good, taking a long time to fix meals on the weekend with loved ones, inventing ways to find your "why" and achieve moderate wealth at the same time—these are natural biohacks and will become more and more important. (Wealth remains, after all, the greatest predictor of health.) Start with one biohack, and if it doesn’t work for you, try another.

Rethinking common foods

We will likely see more ways to go meatless since we are all worried about our planet’s health now too. Beyond Meat, Impossible Food and Laird Superfood are companies already making this switch from meat to plants look easy. Recipes that use these meat substitutes will increase. Right now, scientists are experimenting with creating milks that have a smaller eco-footprint. Milks made with pineapple, chicory and cabbage, for example. Ethnic blending of foods like the burgushi (hamburger + sushi) will also spring up. Mashing together foods from different corners of the world appeals to me because it is fun and creative. Chicory milk doesn’t sound good to me, however. Find your own mashable recipe and share it at work. Laughter is medicine.

Flexible work options and remote work

Having a positive workplace environment leads to more health benefits, getting more done and clients more satisfied. Remote work will likely increase because working from home is deeply appealing to people. Your schedule is flexible. You can spend more time with your family. You have more opportunities to travel. You can even exercise more. Less stress, in other words. If you cannot work from home, look for new ways to achieve a better work-life balance. Be flexible. Make more time for friends, hobbies and self-care. Look for more opportunities to learn new skills or to level them up through seminars and online courses.

Improving your sense of belonging

Staff need to feel like they can say what they think and they matter to their team. The pandemic has shown that if someone feels excluded from their team, that staff member will accomplish 25 percent less. “Belonging” will grow in importance because it nurtures collaboration. Sharing ideas and working toward common goals makes everyone feel more inspired. Think about ways you can make yourself feel more included. Feeling like you belong may be more within your control than you think. If you don’t like feeling isolated, change it. If you don’t want to change it, as Gary John Bishop writes, you actually have what you wanted all along!

(Speaking of trends about teamwork, analysts predict that playing sports to lose weight will catch on. Like everything else, there will be ways to play sports online. Most people are sick of being alone and ready to be around other people. You will still be able to live out your glory days online in whatever sport you used to play in high school. I will look for you on the digital soccer fields. I am the one who calls himself “Big Bad Dad.”)

Mindfulness, meditation, stress management

Like yoga, these have been around for a while. With increased anxiety and stress levels, anything that puts us at ease will be important. Ways to achieve well-being have a number of things going for them in our contemporary culture too. Beyond reducing anxiety, for example, practicing mindfulness doesn’t depend on your age or body type. Feeling good about your age and how you look translates into better physical health, fewer digestive problems, more sleep and higher energy levels. People will be doing a lot of inner work. There will be more certified instructors this year, more yoga with dogs and sheep. TV mirrors are going to be a thing so watch guided meditation videos on YouTube videos while you are getting ready for work.

I haven’t even talked about predictions that see the rise of clothes connected to the internet, 3-D printed cars, and pizzas that can last three years. In the meantime, it looks like 2022 will be a lot like 2021 for holistic well-being!

Blog is written by Rima M. Zabian, PsyD, AWARE Early Head Start Deputy Director

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