Every new year brings forth new trends in the world of health and wellness. There are several reasons for such a development. Over the course of a year, discoveries are made, educating people on all sorts of exciting new possibilities. Additionally, during that time, we often discover more information about current practices that may increase or decrease their popularity depending on what was learned. In some cases, influential events can also impact the perception of various health and wellness practices, and this past year was a perfect example.
The Impact of the Past Year on Present Trends
The arrival of COVID-19 impacted many aspects of human life, and health and wellness trends were no exception. The unique experiences gained through extended periods of quarantine and little face-to-face interaction left their mark, showing us that even when forced to endure all sorts of extreme challenges, there are still ways to continue taking care of yourself and promoting a healthier lifestyle. These realizations have become instrumental in shaping the present trends. Here’s what you can expect to see in 2021.
Trends Involving a Shift in Attitudes Regarding Wellness
The past year exposed many people to unusual circumstances, causing a noticeable change in their perspective. This is reflected by the adoption of and interest in new approaches toward managing individual health and wellness.
When people could not leave their homes, various forms of digital wellness programs became the main source of health services. However, even as the restrictions eased in various parts of the country, many found the convenience of this particular approach still enticing. Not only is virtual wellness more accessible in terms of location and affordability, but it also can be integrated more comfortably into people’s existing routines. Everything from fitness classes to therapy, even doctor’s appointments, now has a user-friendly, online alternative, and the popularity of those offerings is not likely to decrease anytime soon.
Parenting As a Community
In times of hardship, people become increasingly vulnerable to the seemingly insurmountable challenges before them, and this was particularly true for parents this past year. Suddenly they were expected to take on various roles all at once, including worker, caretaker, educator, and friend. Despite these challenges, many parents discovered a feeling of closeness with others they’d never met, united by their shared struggle. Instead of tearing each other down, parents could utilize each other as resources, share helpful tips and tricks, and even provide spaces to vent about their feelings and be honest about the current limitations they face. This increased empathy has allowed parents to shift their perspective on childcare to one more reliant upon forming part of a larger community.
Collective Responsibility Regarding Health
Health and wellness will always be a primarily personal subject, as individuals strive to engage in habits that will improve their quality of life. But this past year placed those same individuals into a situation where others’ choices could significantly impact everyone’s health. Opting to adopt more defensive practices could suddenly mean all the difference to neighbors with lower immune systems or other underlying conditions. This doesn’t mean that people won’t still assess how best to improve their own health, but overall a shift toward collective responsibility over personal responsibility is certain.
Personalized Preventive Care
In the past, various forms of health care have focused on reactive solutions, diagnosing present symptoms to determine how best to improve your situation. However, the past year has extensively illustrated the importance of preventive care. Taking care of your body before you develop an illness can be critical in preventing you from contracting that illness in the first place or from developing severe symptoms if you do. That being said, the best forms of preventive care are those that are tailored to your specific body. Seeking ways to determine and prioritize your body’s needs regarding sleep, nutrition, and physical exercise will be extremely important in 2021.
Preparing for Death
While it might not seem like it at first, this is a natural extension of the increased tendency to focus on preventive care, which involves assessing how best to prepare for future situations to mitigate risks. Unfortunately, even with extreme amounts of preparation, negative outcomes can’t always be avoided, and that’s become a far more common topic of conversation this past year. Having to confront death can be a scary thing. One way to make it more manageable is to invest time and energy into preparing for it. Doing so often puts people far more at ease with the idea of passing, especially when taking into account how much smoother the process will be for your loved ones. Tools and services designed to assist with end-of-life preparations are likely to much more popular in 2021.
Trends Involving New Priorities for Health and Wellness
As attitudes about health and wellness continue to shift in 2021, so will some of the more specific areas addressed.
Increase interests in preventive care mean identifying specific ways to improve your health and boost your immune system. One particular area of note is that of metabolic health. In previous years, the term metabolism has often been associated with weight gain, with those who naturally seem to be unable to gain weight described as having a high metabolism. But metabolic health is more accurately described as assessing the factors most likely to contribute to diabetes, heart disease, and strokes, such as a person’s cholesterol and blood pressure levels. While metabolic health has long been an issue, it has only recently been more openly linked with your immune system’s effectiveness, making it a top priority for 2021.
Skin Microbiome Health
Another lesser-known factor that can impact your immunity is the microbiome of your skin. The conversations surrounding this particular subject are somewhat more recent but no less important. New research has shown that when the skin performs more effectively as a barrier, it can, by extension, protect your overall health. This has not gone unnoticed by the skincare industry leaders, so expect to see various new products designed to target skin microbiome health in the near future.
Given that COVID-19 is an airborne illness that appears to overwhelmingly interfere with the respiratory system, it’s no surprise the respiratory health will also be a top trend in 2021. Increased exposure to the air outdoors has oft been touted as beneficial, but we are likely also to see increases in efforts made to purify the air indoors. Effective, top-quality air purifiers are sure to be in high demand this year.
If there was ever a time to appreciate fully the importance of mental health, it was over this past year. Quarantining for extended periods with little to no in-person social interaction took a heavy toll on people of all ages, though the effects were particularly damaging to children and the elderly. This has led to a shift in priorities as people struggle to find solutions to improve their mental health when faced with limited options. One particular practice that has gained traction is the concept of radical, enthusiastic self-care, as people permit themselves to focus on taking care of their emotional and mental needs over other responsibilities.
Trends Involving the Future of Wellness
While many of the upcoming trends focus on the present, inevitably, many will also look ahead to discoveries and movements that will help shape the future of health and wellness. After all, hardship is often met with innovation, and there are quite a few developments to look forward to in 2021.
Micro-Level Health Monitoring
When seeking new strategies and wellness solutions to nurture your body, it’s common to rely on certain tracking systems to monitor any changes and take note of your progress. Simple metrics like weight, BMI, or waist size have served as health markers in the past. However, with the continued development of technology, we have uncovered new, more helpful ways to quantify the various contributing factors of your overall health. Wearable technology can monitor minute changes in your heart rate, temperature, and blood sugar levels, and provide you with a much more accurate depiction of your present state, allowing you to take better control of your health. While already fairly popular, continual increases in precision and efficiency will only help drive this particular wellness trend further.
Exploring the Medicinal Uses of New Drugs
It’s no secret that the medical cannabis industry has done relatively well in the US, as more and more patients advocate for the plant’s many benefits. This has opened the door to having a conversation about other drugs that might have significant medicinal benefits. While research is still being conducted on the subject, we will likely start to see more and more attitudes shift regarding utilizing drugs like psilocybin, which is present in magic mushrooms, and ketamine. Both Oregon and Washington, DC, have already taken steps in this direction, approving the decriminalization of psilocybin this past year.
The Food Security Movement
It’s well understood that what you eat can have a significant impact on your health, and an increased pressure to focus on preventive health is likely to drive many to reevaluate their diets. However, this shift has brought increased attention to the fact that access to healthy, immune-system-boosting food is extremely limited in various parts of the country. Expect an increased pressure on legislators to find ways to combat food insecurity.
The Sustainability Movement
Finally, while most would be hard-pressed to describe any aspect of the pandemic experience as beneficial, several observations have been made regarding the impact on the environment. Forced to stay indoors and cut down on industrial production, many witnessed significant improvements in the health of the environment. This made it clearer than ever how directly humans can affect nature and renewed interest in becoming more sustainable. This trend encompasses individual responsibility in making better, more sustainable choices; however, it also involves corporate responsibility, as consumers place increased pressure on adopting environmentally friendly practices.
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Chief Operating Officer, The Compounding Pharmacy of America
Matthew Poteet, Pharm.D. graduated with Honors from Lee University with a Bachelors of Science in Biological Science. After his undergraduate training, he completed the Doctor of Pharmacy program at Mercer University Southern School of Pharmacy, graduating in 2004. Dr. Poteet has spent much of his pharmacy career on staff at two of the most prestigious academic teaching hospitals in the Southeast; Emory University in Atlanta and Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. At these institutions he received extensive experience and training in sterile products compounding.
He returned home to East Tennessee in 2010, where he has held the position of Pharmacy Director at two sterile products pharmacies in Knoxville. Matthew lives in Knoxville with his wife, Chris. Dr. Poteet is Tennessee’s first Board Certified Anti-Aging Pharmacist by the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine.
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