10 Curious Global Wellness Trends for 2020

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10 Curious Global Wellness Trends for 2020

By Johnalee Johnston | Feb 3, 2020

Virtual doctors to energy medicine, the most recent wellness trends introduced at the Global Wellness Summit usher in new and innovative ways to help planners, suppliers and attendees discover and maintain work-life balance.

Here are 10 of the most curious trends discussed.

Circadian Health & the Burgeoning Lightmare

Sleep is a $432 billion global market. Whether sleep retreats, shrines and tonics to cuddling robots, DNA-based diets and nap pods—we’re practically obsessed with sleep the world over. So why, then, aren’t we sleeping? Recent research builds on what we currently know and our overall neglect of the circadian rhythm, i.e., the body’s internal sleep-wake cycle. This includes a deep dive into circadian biology, or connections between circadian rhythms and body systems. A circadian health industry, as opposed to the one-off circadian commodities currently on the market, is soon to become the norm, experts say, beginning with biodynamic lighting that seeks to bypass the current technological “lightmare” of society to align our internal circadian clocks with each other and the outside world. Within this new health paradigm is an ever evolving understanding of how optimized circadian rhythm and timing affects things like nutrition, the effectiveness of medicines and other daily practices.

Mental Tech Health

Digital therapeutics are making it easier for people to get the care they need without the stigma, time away from work or pocketbook pinch. Virtual doctors, VR therapy and therapy apps, mental health wearables such as emotion-sensing wristbands, mindfulness and meditation apps and mental health gamification are all either in the works or already realized.

Organized Religion Bootcamps

From Ramadan bootcamps to Catholic Pilates and Jewish Sabbath service hikes, organized religion is on a mission to get well soon. A growing number of organizations and religious institutions are seeing the value in wellness beyond the dogma, or at the very least integrating them. Faith-centric fitness franchises are gaining momentum. CrossFit and SoulCycle are already referred to as “churches” by a growing number of millennials, for example, while wellness-focused community experiences are becoming the new self-care soul service.

Energy Medicine & the Rise of Electroceuticals

Ancient healing practices with energy systems at the core—some born in various corners of the world at the same time by indigenous communities that had no contact with each other—are finally becoming mainstream in the wellness paradigm. Whether based on Ayurveda, shamanism, Indian, Toltec, Sumerian gemstone therapy or other ancient traditions, the idea that the human body and all lifeforms, including those in nature, are essentially electromagnetic fields filled with other energetic frequencies has come full-circle. So much so that Harvard to NASA have embarked on a quest to understand and capitalize on energy medicine. Think: biotech that impacts and regulates electromagnetic fields, as well as protection against man-made energetic disruptors like 5G. Advances in biophotonics (light therapy), electroceuticals over pharmaceuticals, energy biohacking and pulse electromagnetic field therapy are already being studied by scientists.

Wellness Watchdogs

We’re rethinking our ideas about pseudoscience, especially when it comes to wellness. And this has created and empowered a whole new industry of wellness watchdogs. Essentially mythbusters, these groups serve the purpose of separating the wheat from the chaff when it comes to wellness therapies that actually work.     

Music Is Medicine

Science has finally uncovered what most ancient civilizations have long held at the core of their spiritual teachings: music heals. Music activates more areas of the brain than any other stimulus, and also holds the unique power to repair and boost memory, concentration and creativity. Scientists are currently using biofeedback, AI and machine learning to understand the impact music’s structural side has on biological functions. Generative, i.e., AI-powered music, and its ability to “learn” and create personalized, ever evolving soundscapes by analyzing one’s biological, situational and psychological data has been predicted to be the wellness trend of the decade. Until then, wellness music is mostly harking back to traditions of the past via Tibetan singing bowls, deep listening nature excursions and immersion in sanctuary sounds.

Wellness Sabbaticals

Wellness treats without the tech shaming. It’s an almost taboo concept within the quest for work-life balance and yet structured wellness retreats with just enough flexibility for conscious recharging may be just the answer for exhausted execs. These sabbaticals, which are highly personalized to the depth of mind, body, spirit one needs, can include wellness lectures, healthy F&B, plenty of nature and activities and individual quiet time—all while remaining connected to the outside world.

Ditching Anti-Aging for Aging Positive

Millennials and baby boomers are seeking and adopting the same health regimens, a mindset that has spurred a whole new industry for the latter: aging positive. Serving the “silver economy” is a holistic, highly personalized mind, body and soul market, whether virtual reality games for improving cognitive abilities, diagnostic kits for health monitoring or cosmetic lines that blur the lines between the social norms and expectations of “young” and “old.” Some companies are even tapping into “J-wellness,” or Japan’s propensity for pumping out more centenarians than any other country on the planet. To this regard, Ikigai (purpose at a measured pace), Kintsugi (repairing broken pottery with gold) and Wabi-Sabi (embracing imperfection), as well as tech-forward innovations like social robots and micronutrient facials are making their way into the Western world.

Removing the Taboo from Women’s Health

The days of hushed, backroom talks about women’s health issues is steadily coming to a halt, and women's health is being embraced as a viable wellness business. This is especially true when it comes to reproductive health, a subject that used to spark panic among corporations who viewed the female anatomy as a financial liability. The monetization and democratization of women’s healthcare is underway and expected to trend on for years to come.

Nutrition Goes Interdisciplinary

Perceptions of nutrition have a touch point with all of the aforementioned trends—religion to energy medicine to circadian health. Even music, which has been found in some studies to actually alter DNA, interacts with nutrition at a cellular level. As our understanding of nutrition and the interconnection of mind, body and spirit continue to evolve, so will our overall approach to wellness.  



Johnalee Johnston
Johnalee Johnston

Johnalee Johnston is a wildly creative and curious disruptor of the status quo and the former digital editor for MPI.