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  • Noa Fenigstein

Wellness trends to try & to ditch in 2023

“The wellness industry has been booming” is a sentence that has been written over and over in the last few years. Let’s face it, wellness isn’t just booming, it’s here to stay, and is becoming a central part of people’s lives. Looking back, it’s not hard to see why. In a world where stress and burnout are all too common, people are turning to self-care and preventative health measures to stay healthy and happy.

There are many things that make wellness trends so appealing. First, many of them emphasize a do-it-yourself kind of mentality, with practical hacks that are accessible and easy to apply. On the flip side, many wellness trends claim to give you tremendous results quickly. Many of them are either too optimistic or simply negligent. And the truth is, for some wellness trends, following hacks of online suggestions can mean gambling with your mental or physical health.

But what is wellness, really?

The term “Wellness” encompasses a holistic approach to health that addresses physical, mental, and emotional well-being. That means that wellness isn’t just about the absence of illness or about emotional stability. It is a state in which each one of these aspects of our lives is nurtured and healthy.

Physical wellness includes exercise, proper nutrition, and getting enough sleep. Mental wellness includes stress management, mindfulness, and therapy. Emotional wellness includes self-care, self-compassion, and healthy relationships. Overall, wellness is a lifelong journey that involves making conscious choices and taking deliberate actions to improve and maintain good health.

The wellness sector itself has seen significant growth in the past few years. According to the Global Wellness Institute, the global wellness economy was worth $4.5 trillion in 2018, and it's expected to grow by 5-10% annually.

Separating the good from the bad

Every year dozens of new wellness trends populate our social media feeds and spread like fire. Many of them can be very beneficial to our lives, are easy to follow, and can have a real impact on our well-being. Some of them just don’t work, and are even potentially dangerous. So how can you tell between a trend to try and a trend to ditch?

When it comes to wellness trends, it can be tough to know which ones are worth your time and money. Here are a few tips to help you distinguish between beneficial and ineffective wellness trends:

  1. Scientific evidence: Try to look for solid evidence to support the claims being made. If there is little to no evidence, or the evidence is questionable, then it's best to approach it with caution.

  2. Personal experience: Everyone's body is different, so what works for one person may not work for another. Before trying a new wellness trend, it's important to consider your personal health and wellness goals. Does the trend align with those goals? Has it worked for others who have similar goals and health concerns? If the answer is yes, then it may be worth a try.

  3. Sustainability: Consider whether the wellness trend is sustainable over the long term. Is it something that you can realistically incorporate into your daily routine? Will it be costly or time-consuming? If the answer is no, then it may not be worth the effort.

  4. The credibility of the source: Is it a reputable health or wellness organization, or is it an individual or company with a vested interest in promoting the trend? If the source is not credible, then the trend may not be either.

So whether you're a seasoned wellness guru or just getting started on your journey, we’re here to help separate the good and the bad and help you focus on the things that matter. From mindfulness to plant-based diets to the latest fitness crazes, there's always something new and exciting to discover in the world of wellness. So, let's get started and find out what 2023 has in store for us!

👍 Sleep syncing

“Sleep syncing” is rapidly becoming one of the most talked about wellness trends out there. The good news: there is a lot of evidence that shows that it can actually help your sleep and, as a result, improve your physical and mental health. Sleep syncing means adjusting your sleep cycle with your circadian rhythm. Your circadian rhythm (eg, sleep-wake cycle) is your internal body clock that follows a 24-hour cycle. Influenced by light and dark, it controls hormone release such as melatonin and your digestive enzymes.

Essentially, the principle of sleep syncing is a regulated sleep-wake cycle over 24 hours in itself can tremendously improve your sleep. The other great thing about sleep syncing is that it’s a relatively easy habit to adopt, and can have an incredibly positive effect. Here are a few tips for syncing your sleep to your daily routine.

  1. Wake up at the same time every day

  2. Get exposed to sunlight in the morning

  3. Avoid caffeine after midday

  4. Avoid heavy meals 3-4 hours before bed

  5. Cut back on screens before bed

  6. Create a bedtime routine

  7. Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet

👍 Cycle syncing

This one is only relevant to those of us who menstruate. Similarly to sleep syncing, Cycle Syncing is the practice of adapting your daily activity: working out, eating habits, work schedule, social life, and physical intimacy, to your body’s natural monthly cycle. Specifically, it means understanding the four phases of the cycle - follicular, ovulation, luteal, and menstrual - and how each of them affects our physical and mental state.

This one is another well-researched and proven trend. According to many women’s health experts, as our body is constantly fluctuating, so is our ability and motivation fluctuates. With this realization in mind, we understand that for most female bodies, doing the same activity at the same intensity every day is not exactly effective.

Here is some information on each phase of the cycle, and what is recommended for that phase:

  • Menstrual: During this phase, your estrogen is on the rise. Rest is key. Prioritize soft and relaxing activities rather than pushing yourself. Dring soothing tea, limit fatty foods, alcohol, caffeine, and salty foods.

  • Follicular: Gradually restart your body. Keep exercises to hiking, light runs, or more flow-based yoga that works up a sweat. Try to incorporate foods that will metabolize estrogen, such as broccoli sprouts, kimchi, and sauerkraut.

  • Ovulation: Your testosterone and estrogen are peaking, so now is the time to maximize your potential. Try exercises high-intensity workouts or a spin class, and eat anti-inflammatory foods that support your liver, such as whole fruits, vegetables, and almonds.

  • Luteal: During this time, progesterone rises as testosterone and estrogen deplete, which means your body is preparing for another period cycle, and energy levels may be low. It’s a good idea to opt for strength training, pilates, and more intense versions of yoga. Eat foods that can help produce serotonin, such as leafy greens, quinoa, spinach, and dark chocolate.

👎 ‘What I eat in a day’ videos

If you’re a wellness enthusiast, your Instagram reels feed or Tiktok for you page must be filled with these videos: “an omelet, green juice, a matcha latte for breakfast. A gluten-free sandwich. Baked salmon for dinner. Etc. etc.”. The “What I eat in a day” reel (and the less common, but more stressful ‘what I drank in a day’ reel) is a 15 to 30-second compilation of what some wellness influencer claim they ate over the course of the day.

The dishes featured in these videos are usually highly curated, beautifully shot, often organic, home-cooked, and seemingly very healthy. These videos, watched by millions, often promote unrealistic lifestyles and an unhealthy body image. The main problem is, they promote a one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition, an aspirational goal that, for many, simply isn’t reachable.

Whether they show accurate documentation of a daily diet, or a highly curated one, another problem with these videos is the hyper-healthy image they present. While for many wellness influencers, curating a healthy, organic, home-cooked diet is their paid profession, not everybody can invest that time, money, and energy into their daily nutrition. This can lead to guilt and discourage people from creating their own healthy habits.

👍 Micro workouts

Physical exercise is extremely important for our physical and mental well-being. Not only does it strengthen our body, but it improves our mood, helps with focus and motivation, and can also be a social activity and improve relationships. The problem is, in a fast pace society, many people find it hard to find the time and energy to maintain a workout routine. In a world where the awareness of the importance of physical exercise is growing, many feel the pressure to intensely work-out, which is often unsustainable.

If you relate, micro workouts are the wellness trend for you. Micro workouts are quick, one-minute dances or fitness challenges you can often find on Tiktok or Instagram. Micro workouts remove the time barrier, and for some people also the money barrier, which prevents so many people from incorporating healthy and achievable work-out habits in their daily lives.

These bite-size low-intensity workouts make it easier to add more movement into more moments throughout the day. Micro workouts can include a morning dance, a quick set of squats before lunch, and a 10-minute yoga session before bed to help you destress. These short fitness sessions can have a great impact on your physical health and add some necessary movement to your life.

👍 Mini meditations

When most of us think of meditation, we imagine a formal setting, with a mediator or a guide, where everyone is sitting quietly for at least 20 minutes, focusing on their breathing. In mindfulness meditation, when upsetting thoughts, sensations, or feelings interfere, as they always do, experienced meditators learn to notice them, let them pass by, and then return to paying attention to the breath.

There is a lot of evidence for the benefits of mindfulness meditation. Studies suggest that meditating can improve heart health and mental health, boost immune response, lower stress, decrease blood pressure, improve healthy aging of cells, and much more. However, many people find it difficult, or sometimes intimidating, to incorporate a meditation practice into their lives.

Similarly to micro-workouts, Mini-meditations involve learning how to be mindful but in shorter intervals. Using short and less demanding mindfulness exercises, you too can enjoy the benefits of mindfulness in your life. Here are some examples of bite-size mindfulness exercises:

  1. Take one or more deep breaths.

  2. Put your emotions into words.

  3. Choose one activity to do with mindful attention.

  4. Practice watching your thoughts pass by as if you were watching a parade.

  5. Recite a calming motto, mantra, or prayer.

👎 Soft Life

Originating in the Nigerian influencer community, the term “soft life” or “soft era” describes living a life of enjoyment and comfort, while limiting stress. With millions of views and counting on TikTok, there’s no shortage of content depicting the stress-free #softlife popularized as the response to the hustle and “girlboss” culture of the 2010s.

While the principles of soft life can be very positive: prioritizing self-care, setting boundaries, and criticism of work culture, it is often painting an unattainable, and even extravagant picture. Many “soft life” influencers showcase exotic locations, fine dining, luxury goods, and most of all, less work. Unfortunately, this version of soft life is privileged and seen as an ideal to aspire to, which can be harmful. Combined with the “quiet quitting” trend that started in 2021, the soft life influencers can often have a negative impact on viewers, by presenting privileged and often unattainable circumstances as achievable goals that are “the right way to live”.

The right lesson to take from this trend is, small changes in our daily lives, an emphasis on self-care, and making intentional choices that take our wellness into consideration, is a good philosophy to have. In other words, living a soft life is subjective, and anyone can experience it differently according to their circumstances. The purpose should not be completely rejecting struggle, stress, or sadness because most of us can’t. Instead, it is to develop resilience, and a safe space for ourselves in the hectic world we live in.

👍 Digital Detox

The frequent use of technology in our daily lives has been linked to heightened attention-deficit symptoms, impaired emotional and social intelligence, technology addiction, social isolation, impaired brain development, and disrupted sleep in some cases. Most of us have felt it directly, and know how to identify the impact technology can have on our wellness.

While technology isn’t inherently bad, if it interferes with your work, relationships, mental and physical health, or finances, it might be a good idea to try and regulate your usage. Digital detox is a trend that offers cutting down daily usage, to become conscious of its effects and get some relief.

Strategies such as scheduling time away from screens throughout the day, adjusting your phone settings to limit certain apps, creating no-phone areas, or even downgrading your phone plan, can help limit your phone use and provide a much-needed mental relief.

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