Wellness has been a buzzword for years, but perhaps never more so than in 2020. Thanks to an unprecedented amount of uncertainty, too much time spent indoors, and countless other stressful scenarios, the importance of wellness and mental health practices was more apparent than ever before. According to industry experts, nearly everyone realized that, at some point, leading to a definite rise in the application of these exercises and rituals in daily life.
"The pandemic brought an inevitable slow down to our lives this year —and for some, a necessary slow down to pause, reflect, and reevaluate their wellness rituals," Kimberly Ross, the founder and CEO of acupuncture and wellness practice ORA, tells TZR in an email. "We were given time to finally implement wellness and self-care practices that always seemed to fall to the bottom of our to-do lists."
Out of the myriad ways people tried to feel better though, a few clearly resonated, so much so that industry experts predict they'll only continue to be more popular as we transition into 2021. From meditation to mindful eating, ahead are the wellness practices that dominated the difficult past few months — and are set to only get more popular in the new year.
Wellness Practice: Mindful Eating
With the increase of time at home and hours spent cooking, you may have noticed you were paying more attention to what you were putting in your body last year. As yoga teacher, holistic health coach, and author Koya Webb says, everyone else was, too.
"Being in quarantine has not only shed a bigger light on our eating habits but has allowed many the opportunity to be more intentional about what is put in their body," she tells TZR. "With this increased awareness, many have begun to make steps toward ridding themselves of eating unhealthy and processed foods and incorporating more mindful eating practices."
Carla Oates, founder of The Beauty Chef, saw a similar, but even more specific trend. "I think 2020 really brought to the fore the rising interest in the link between what we eat, the state of our gut, and our overall health and wellbeing," she says, explaining that since your gut microbiome can affect your skin, mental health, and more, there's a great desire around the world to achieve a state of balance in this area.
That will continue to be crucial in the new year. "It’s so important as we head into 2021 to start by simply embracing a diet rich in whole foods — especially fiber," she continues. "Feeding your microbiome with the right foods is really the best place to start to take a holistic approach to your overall gut health and wellbeing."
To put more mindful eating into practice in 2021, both Webb and Oates suggest setting up rituals or a schedule. "Use timers on your phone as reminders to stay accountable with drinking and eating the things that nourish you," says Webb. As Oates explains, if you make it easy to adopt into your day-to-day, it will alleviate additional pressure on yourself.
Wellness Practice: Traditional Chinese Medicine
According to Ross, 2020 saw a more proactive approach to health rather than a reactive one, with people wanting to implement wellness practices at home. And for many, that meant relying on Traditional Chinese Medicine methods of healing.
"As more time was spent at home, people began trying new healing techniques to promote better health through TCM by embracing an acu-lifestyle; from introducing essential oils to regulate the body’s Qi (at ORA, we believe essential oils enhance the treatment) to restoring the immune system through unique herbal tea blends based on Chinese treatment principles, like our custom Line of Defense Tea."
That said, she admits it was a challenge for many to stay consistent with these practices and to rebalance the body or mind. "Though we had this time to rebalance and restore, it has also been incredibly stressful learning how to navigate this new normal." Therefore, implementing these practices is ongoing for everyone. "I think we were all (and still are) in this experimental phase of discovering new wellness practices that worked within our new daily routines and lifestyle," she says.
Wellness Practice: Meditation & Breathwork
Meditation, also used in TCM, was another specific practice many industry experts noticed a rise in, including Amy Morin, LCSW and editor-in-chief of Verywell Mind. Morin says she's seen a major increase in demand for meditation content, explaining that people were "eager to find healthy lifestyle changes and coping skills that would help them manage their stress during this difficult year" after losing other go-to coping methods like working out at the gym or visiting with friends.
Chris Roth, the CEO and founder of CBD brand Highline Wellness, agrees, explaining that he's specifically become interested in breath work, whether alone or through yoga or meditation. "I’ve also seen a lot of others turn to [this] as well to just boost and maintain an overall healthier lifestyle," he says.
And certified yoga trainers Juliana and Mark Spicoluk, who founded travel, yoga, and lifestyle brand Boho Beautiful, predict that the interest in these practices will only grow in the new year. "In 2021, we believe that people will continue to find a deeper sense and value of mindfulness through both a regular meditation and yoga practice because it is one of the most simple and easily accessible strategies anyone can discover for themselves," they tell TZR.
But before you take it up yourself, remember: You won't try meditation out a few times and suddenly be "good at it," which Morin says a lot of people expect. "You're not supposed to be 'good at it,'" she explains. "It's a practice and the more you do it, the less judgmental you'll be about your struggles." Roth provides similar advice for those looking to practice breath work in 2021. "I compare it to skiing — you don't go the first time and expect to rip up the mountain on your first day," he says. "Breath work is similar: It requires commitment, patience, and time to see results."