Experts Say Mindfulness Will Continue Its Reign In 2022
Sorry hustle culture, snoozing is in.
When it comes to staying healthy these days, it seems more and more people are going for an inside-out approach, making mindfulness the trend du jour. Even though 2020 was a challenging year for most, 2021 had plenty of hurdles as well, from navigating going back to the office after working from home to plain old trying-to-socialize again after getting out of practice. Perhaps you’d finally gotten used to your WFH schedule — following a morning routine, starting with meditation or yoga, then making a healthy breakfast before getting into work mode. But then it got disrupted and some of the healthful habits you’d acquired over the past two years suddenly fell by the wayside.
“Before the pandemic, I think people viewed personal and internal connection practices as a ‘luxury,’ but now we know them to be a necessity,” Justin Michael Williams, transformational speaker, meditation teacher, and author of Stay Woke: A Meditation Guide For The Rest of Us, tells TZR in an email. “They’re not just something we do to relieve stress or relax, but to step fully into our lives — especially with all the challenges, ups, and downs. I think so many of us saw how much our wellness practices helped us manage the stress of the last year-and-a-half, and so why would we let that go?” He says since the challenges are not going to disappear, one’s current practices shouldn’t either.
Dr. Sanam Hafeez, a New York City neuropsychologist and director of Comprehend the Mind, agrees that wellness practices have increased the last year-and-a-half. “The circumstances almost forced people to turn inward and develop coping mechanisms that worked to preserve and enhance their mental health during one of the most trying times we have been through collectively,” she says to TZR. “Whether it has been mindfulness, meditation, therapy, exercise, or journaling, many have found that these are good habits or practices to keep for everyday life.”
So whether you want to improve your wellness routine or simply sustain it, there are several ways to do so. From meditating to eating more thoughtfully to sleeping better, these are mindfulness trends that are running rampant and will still be going strong in the new year. And they’re quite easy to implement once you try them out. You’ll see.
When it comes to mindfulness, many wellness practices fall under that umbrella, including meditation, yoga, and breathwork. While many adopted these methods over the past year, their popularity is likely continue into 2022. “Most people think of a mindfulness practice as a way to relax or reduce stress, but it’s much more than that,” says Williams. “These practices are here to help us become more alive. For many of us, we are the first generation with an opportunity to even think about things like ‘mental health’ and ‘manifesting’ and ‘fulfilling our life purpose’ — most of our ancestors had to sacrifice these things to create stability and the possibility for change for the future generation. We are that generation.”
Lennart Klipp, an emotional wellness coach and meditation teacher with a private practice in Los Angeles, CA, also believes an ongoing wellness trend is looking for ways to reconnect with ourselves. “We have so many options and choices and so much information to process that our minds are ‘on’ 24/7,” he tells TZR in an email. “We are suffering from an overactive mind and hardly take the time to relax. We live so much in our head that it is starting to harm us.” He says this can reveal itself through stress, anxiety, and overthinking. “We feel lost and sense a deep longing to reconnect with our heart, our intuition, our self — and are looking for ways to do so. This drives people to explore meditation and yoga, go on a retreat, or look for an emotional wellness coach. We all need balance: time to rest, restore, and recharge.”
Another wellness trend Klipp foresees is community with others. “People are looking for different ways to experience meaningful human connection,” he says. “In today’s digital world, our connections and interactions are often one-dimensional. A like, follow, quick comment, or text is how we interact. Super efficient, but also quite superficial or even meaningless.” Although online communication has become somewhat of a norm, now that travel and social restrictions are easing up in many parts of the world, it’s a great time to reconnect… in person.
“Meeting someone in person has become something rare and special,” says Klipp. “We’ve lost a lot of added benefits of our old ways of in-person interaction — to hear and feel the vibration of someone’s voice, the electricity of looking into someone’s eyes, and the physical sensations of experiencing touch or smell. We miss intimacy. And we feel more disconnected, isolated, and even lonely because of it.” So Klipp recommends engaging with others in ways that will allow you to experience human sensations like you remember from the not-so-distant past. He says people need someone to talk to about the real issues in life — their purpose, their desires, their complicated emotions and contradictory thoughts. “All those things you can’t express with a simple emoji or text,” he adds.
Williams agrees and says “the biggest focus of 2022 will be community,” he says. “Many apps and platforms have learned how to make people feel a sense of community online (I love Peloton), but there’s nothing like gathering in person. Even still, I think we’ve all seen the difference in the outcome of our practices when we’re doing it together — with other like-minded people that elevate us, see us, and share our values.”
Hafeez notes that the events of the past couple years caused many people to seek therapy who had never done so before, and it’s a continuous wellness trend. “[The past two years] caused anxiety and depression among people who had never experienced it before,” she says. “For some, these conditions dissipated when things returned to ‘normal,’ yet for others, it has lingered.” She explains that people cannot build or maintain anything on a weak foundation. “Although the body might be physically strong, if the psyche is crumbling, a person cannot function at their best,” she says.
If your mental health is suffering, you will likely suffer any number of consequences, ranging from anxiety and depression to insomnia. At best, it can manifest in general discontent and moodiness, Hafeez explains. “When your mental health is not in top form, it is difficult to perform at peak capacity in your job, as a student, as a parent, or to be 100% present as a partner or family member,” she adds. And while some people have returned to seeing therapists in person, Hafeez says telemedicine is something that is here to stay. “It gives mental health professionals and patients much more flexibility with scheduling, as no commute is involved for either party,” she says. “I feel we will also continue to see online Facebook self-help groups and other Zoom meetings that deal with specific mental health issues that people have, whether it be moms with postpartum depression or people with specific phobias. I think social media will continue to be a way of connecting people the world over.”
Nutrition is another area in which people seem to be more mindful, like when it comes to what they’re eating, says Dr. Daryl Gioffre, celebrity nutritionist, founder of Alkamind and author of Get Off Your Sugar and Get Off Your Acid. “We are coming off two of the most stressful years we’ve experienced in our lifetime,” he tells TZR in an email. “We were all blindsided by this pandemic, and when the quarantine was slapped upon us, what did most of us do? We started stress eating, exercised less, drank more, and spent more time on social media.”
That said, Dr. Gioffre says we are seeing shifts in the way people eat and move their bodies over the past year. People started cooking at home a lot more and began focusing their attention on foods that boost immunity, metabolism, and mental health. And some research has found that about 71% of consumers say they’ll keep cooking at home going forward. And Gioffre says that as we get ready to move into 2022, mindful eating will become even more front and center as New Year’s resolutions become top of mind.
“We are either managing stress, or the stress is managing us, and our consistent daily habits will determine this,” he adds. “We have to understand that the quality of our energy, digestion, sleep, and overall health is directly proportional to the quality of the food choices we make every single day.” He recommends eating foods that strengthen your body, energy, and immune system — foods that make you burn fat, not sugar. These include: lots of greens (green juices, green smoothies, green soups, green salads), lots of clean healthy fats (avocados, raw nuts (almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts), raw seeds (chia, flax, hemp), and raw oils (EVOO, avocado, coconut oil, MCT oil), 2 to 4 ounces of moderate clean-sourced protein (wild-caught fish, grass fed, pasture-raised), and fiber-rich, slow-burning carbs (quinoa, wild rice, sweet potato, and butternut squash).
“People are learning more and more that the foods we eat can change how we feel and how we think,” says Gioffre. “This is also helping people get to the true underlying triggers of their emotional or stress eating habits. Once you are aware of why you eat a certain way, you can actually do something to fix it.”
Quick At-Home Workouts
At-home fitness is another trend that became popular in recent years and continues to be, Peloton Instructor Rebecca Kennedy tells TZR in an email. “Especially working from home, it breaks up your day, which keeps your energy up, relieves aches from sitting all day, and is an outlet for stress,” she says. “WOFH (working out from home) is also far more cost-effective than a gym membership, it's more accessible, and you can find exactly the type of workout you like. You can choose workouts specific to the amount of time you have to dedicate to it, who you like to train with, types of music you like to listen to… and no one else (aside from maybe your family members) is using your equipment.”
As for starting a regular fitness routine if you don’t have one, you can start small. “Your body needs to move, even a little bit, every day,” says Kennedy. “It doesn’t need to be a 60-minute bootcamp daily — even 30 minutes of an outdoor walk, a quick yoga practice, or 20 minutes of stretching will be enough some days. We train our brains to become accustomed with the practice, and in turn we reap all the benefits.”
It’s probably no surprise that many people lost sleep in 2021. The new year is a great way to focus on catching up. Dr. Peter Polos, MD, PhD, FCCP, FAASM, sleep medicine specialist and sleep expert for Sleep Number, agrees. “There is no doubt the pandemic wreaked havoc on the sleep habits of many people,” he tells TZR in an email. “There were several factors at play, including anxiety.” As many people were in lockdown and spent more time at home, their daily routines of work and sleep were disrupted, he explains. “Not having to be at work [in person] allowed many people to sleep in later so they could work at their own pace, squeeze in a workout, or even take a nap if they felt inclined,” he adds. “The impact this had on normal sleep is obvious… and resulted in less energy, less motivation and, in general, being out of sorts.”
Polos notes that there’s been a surge in sleep tracking and monitoring to connect the dots to quality sleep and positive health — and it will likely continue. You can do this via everything from your phone (most iPhones have a Health section which includes sleep tracking), an app, like Sleep Cycle, a device (like Hatch’s Restore, a smart sleep assistant), or even by getting a mattress that will keep track of your sleep habits for you.
He also recommends investing in the right pillow. “A mattress supports a sleeper from the shoulders down while a pillow provides optimal support to a sleeper from the shoulders up,” he says. “Neck and back discomfort are common factors affecting sleep and, in many instances, a pillow might be a contributing factor. Pillows are part of a total sleep solution and play a key role in proper spinal alignment and comfort throughout the night.”