Wellness routines went out the window in 2020. We canceled our restorative vacations and postponed our plans for wellness retreats. We started working out at home and dealt with major changes at yoga studios as they reopened (and mourned the loss of those that closed). We redirected our focus from skincare to sanitization and dealt with perpetual “maskne.” And a profound sense of grief and loss left our mental wellbeing in disarray.
For many of us, 2021 will be about regaining what we lost this year and finding new ways to take care of ourselves and our communities. Amid this collective need for catharsis and renewal, a collection of deeper, more accessible wellness experiences are emerging. No doubt, next year will change the way we approach our physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing.
Here are the top 10 wellness trends for 2021, according to leading experts.
Self-care for the community
“I believe that a big wellness trend for 2021 is a shift from self-care to community-care. The pandemic has exposed many of the systemic inequalities and flaws in our society, and we will start to recognize that we have a responsibility to do something within our power to address them. We’ll start to see wellness reframed from something that is ‘for me’ and see it positioned as something that is ‘for all.’ A growing awareness that helping other people is actually the greatest pathway to happiness, as proven by scientific research, will emerge, with people prioritizing giving back, donating their time and skills, and using their power to address systemic issues that are present in their own lives, workplaces, and communities,” said Stephanie Harrison, founder and CEO of The New Happy.
Mindful and intuitive eating
“In 2021, I believe there will be a continued rise of mindful eating and intuitive eating. People will continue to turn away from restrictive diets, especially those that completely demonize a certain macronutrient, such as carbohydrates. I also believe there will be an increase in people embracing food in all its forms through the trend of upcycling food, which means that ugly vegetables and wasted food scraps can be turned into meals and snacks. It is a step toward a healthier, more sustainable, and more conscious future,” said Kimberly Snyder, nutritionist, founder of the wellness brand Solluna and author of five wellness books, including “Radical Beauty: How to Transform Yourself from the Inside Out.”
“There is so much negative energy in social media, the news, and on TV right now. One of our major learnings from 2020 is that we individually have the power to decide what we take in and we can set boundaries around our digital consumption. Going into 2021, we think the idea of digital detoxes will be top of mind in our collective consciousness. A digital detox can be devoting a week, weekend, or even just a day (Sundays are great for this!) to living without your phone, social media, and TV. Instead, take more time with yourself, go for long walks in nature, meditate, read, or work on a creative project. It will help you disconnect from all the noise around you so you can reconnect with yourself and figure out what you’re really feeling,” said Krista Williams and Lindsey Simcik, wellness experts and hosts of the Almost 30 podcast.
Simpler skincare routines
“Say goodbye to 12-step skincare routines in 2021. Staying at home has shifted our budgets away from makeup, clothes, and spa services, and left us with more time to buy and try all the at-home skincare trends. But after a year of trying it all, people will have realized that most of these products are either redundant or too much for them to handle, leaving a lot of confused and cynical people with damaged moisture barriers. Plus, we're all broke. We'll be happy and confident settling into a simple, consistent skincare routine that will save us from the damage we may have done in 2020, and will save our wallets, as well,” said Maureen McClure, cofounder of Scratch Goods, a skincare and wellness company.
Flexible goal setting
“Setting more realistic resolutions, or micro-goals, will be a wellness trend for 2021. Our perspective on goals has changed due to the pandemic. Knowing the world can throw a wrench in our gears, we realize it's important to remain open and flexible. Having a long list of micro-goals to choose from, rather than one big all-or-nothing resolution, can be beneficial for overall wellness. We’ve already started seeing this trend take hold during the pandemic as many people set new, realistic health goals for themselves. In turn, these goals made them more pragmatic about their New Year’s resolutions—instead of weight loss, people are focusing on weight management and maintenance, for example. Ultimately, micro-goals will end up being ones that people feel fully confident they can achieve—and of greater benefit to their health and wellness journey,” said Brooke Scheller, a doctor of clinical nutrition and director of nutrition at Freshly.
Talk (and walk) therapy
“Forget the couch in 2021—we are heading outdoors for our therapy sessions. Since the onset of the pandemic, many therapists have stopped seeing clients in the office due to safety concerns and are doing teletherapy as a safer alternative. While telehealth will continue to be a very viable and safe way to deliver therapy services, many therapists and clients miss seeing each other in person. I have been doing walk-and-talk sessions with clients on nature trails, roads, and beaches, and expect eco-therapy to become more popular in 2021. With walk-and-talk therapy, clients and therapists are moving together in nature and feeling connected,” said Tracy Nathanson, psychotherapist and founder of Pace of Mind Therapy.
Intention-focused wellness travel
“At Canyon Ranch, we increasingly see guests coming to our properties for an intention-focused stay, not just a vacation. Like so many people, they have struggled this past year to gain a foothold on their mental and emotional wellbeing. The challenging and traumatic events of 2020 have left us all feeling untethered from our normal routines. Travelers are seeking out experts, experiences, and places that will help them regain a feeling of stability. For some, it means getting back on a regular exercise program and returning to healthier eating habits. Others will look to the wisdom and guidance of a therapist, life coach, or spiritual teacher for clarity and understanding. And when they are ready to travel, wellness retreats and outdoor adventure experiences will be the destinations of choice. In these places, people will have an opportunity to reconnect with themselves, to others, to nature, and to their sense of purpose and joy,” said Jim Eastburn, corporate director of transformational experiences at Canyon Ranch.
Touchless spa services
“Gone are the days when you can pop in to the spa for a massage without a worry. Touchless services, like cryotherapy, compression therapy, salt caves, infrared saunas, IV drips, hyperbaric chambers, and float tanks, offer a way for people to relax and recover—without any additional contact. Mindybody’s 2021 Wellness Index found that 31 percent of Americans interested in trying a new no-touch service in the midst of COVID. People need a way to decompress now more than ever, and no-touch spa services provide no-worry wellness as we head into 2021,” said Beth Leibovich, director of user research at Mindbody.
“Cold showers and cold water immersion will be popular in 2021. With the rise in cold exposure therapy led by people like Wim Hof and embraced by biohackers, performance coaches, and recovery specialists around the world, we are starting to see this trend become part of the mainstream. More and more experts are discussing the benefits of cold exposure and cold showers, which are cheap and available to nearly everyone. This trend will no doubt balloon in 2021 and make its way to most people’s social media feeds and maybe even their daily wellness practice. Start slow and give it go,” said Rick Richey, a fitness educator and co-owner of RēCOVER.
Cannabis beyond THC & CBD
“In 2021, we’ll see more widespread acceptance of cannabis use and the stigma surrounding it will significantly decrease. Cannabis will be supported for a broader range of medical and health benefits through renewed research efforts at universities and institutions across the country. It’s this research that has contributed to a wider range of cannabinoids, like CBG, THCV, and CBN, that we’ll start to see in products for both medicinal and adult use, and not just THC and CBD. As legalization expands and people look for more holistic ways to deal with their own medical issues and wellbeing, more people will discover how they can incorporate cannabis into their lives,” said Stacia Woodcock, PharmD, clinical cannabis pharmacist, dispensary manager, and practitioner outreach liaison at Curaleaf, along with the company’s senior vice president of innovation and research and development, Jessie Kater.
Written by Joni Sweet