In light of COVID-19, wellness became a top priority for people around the planet in 2020. The industry as a whole moved toward holistic goals and mental wellbeing. More people are focused on their physical and mental health and are looking for ways to increase their overall wellness. Many of the wellness trends we saw take off in 2020 are predicted to follow us into the new year.
Here are the top 6 mental wellness trends to look for in 2021.
2021 comes with a renewed focus on mental wellbeing following the pandemic. According to the Global WellnessSummit, "awareness of the need to address mental health has grown significantly in the last few years."¹ The World Health Organization added "burnout" as an official medical diagnosis.²
We've seen how social isolation, human suffering, and economic challenges can impact our individual and collective mental wellness from the pandemic. To recoup from all of the widespread challenges of 2020, this year's main priority will be mental wellness. Fortunately, many of the mental wellness strategies we can use to improve our mood and happiness are free. Spending time outside, exercising, and spending time with friends and family are easy ways to improve mental wellness.
In 2020, Statista found that 60% of young people in the UK found exercise helpful for managing mental health.³ OnePoll conducted a study and found that 70% of American respondents made fitness a more significant priority since the pandemic.⁴ While gyms were not reliably open this year, many people turned to at-home workouts and found new ways to exercise. Even so, gyms have proved their resilience, with many reopening and following social distancing protocol. Heading into 2021, it will be imperative for gyms to maintain sanitary hygiene standards. Now that people have seen the many possibilities of virtual and at-home workouts, fitness will continue to be a prominent mental health trend in the upcoming years regardless of gyms' status.
Restaurant closures, social distancing, and pure boredom propelled many people to try their hand at cooking at baking this past year. Hunter found that 54% of American consumers reported cooking more.⁵ With more people working from home, many have more time to spend cooking. Another trend in nourishing food has been at-home gardens.⁶
Overall, we are becoming increasingly more aware of how the foods we eat impact how we feel and function. Eating a nutrient-rich diet is imperative for mental health. Anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting ingredients help every aspect of our health and are becoming more popular. Additionally, it's more likely that we'll see plant-based alternatives for meat and dairy in addition to plant-based meal kits. Some nourishing ingredients to consider for 2021 include:
In the digital age, data is becoming a more central part of health for many people. Research from IDtechEx found that sales of fitness trackers and wearable medical health doubled between 2014 and 2019 to reach nearly $70 billion!⁷ At the 2020 Global Wellness Summit, fitness tracking was one of the top wellness trends predicted for 2021.⁸
Wearable health tech encompasses a wide assortment of devices, including sleep trackers, fitness trackers, smartwatches, smart clothing, hearables, and electronic skin patches. Using these devices, people can collect personalized data on their health and fitness, allowing them to biohack changes and customized for their unique body and wellbeing. For example, we all know how critical sleep is for mental health. We can leverage health and wellness technology that tracks sleep to gain insight into our sleeping patterns and figure out the best ways for getting more quality sleep.
Emotional wellness, including resilience to stress and overall mood, is essential for consumers. Spending so much time at home and disrupted routines took a significant emotional toll on people in 2020. Health brands are responding to over-the-counter remedies that support mental wellbeing. According to research by Mintel, Millennials prefer to support brands that focus on total wellness and affordability when they consider health and wellness products to purchase.⁹
Some of the top mental wellness ingredients in OTC remedies include:
In 2017, wellness tourism was expected to hit $919 billion, according to the Global Wellness Institute.¹² While people will be eager to get back to all forms of travel after the pandemic, travel centered around wellness will likely be more appealing than ever. Wellness tourism is "travel associated with the pursuit of maintaining or enhancing one's wellbeing," and the Global Wellness Institute predicts human-powered travel like hiking, walking, paddling, and biking will be very popular. Of course, the landscape of post-pandemic travel will be different than what we experienced previously. For a long time, tourism will likely require masks, temperature checks, hand sanitizer, and potentially vaccination passports.
Throughout the pandemic, we've made progress toward mental health awareness. We've seen the role technology can play in monitoring and improving our overall health, returned to the kitchen for nourishing meals, found ways to exercise more, and realized the benefits of OTC natural remedies for boosting mental wellness. While 2020 was not without its strain on mental wellness, it did help us renew the crucial focus on mental wellbeing.
(1) Global Wellness Summit (January 2020) Global Wellness Summit Releases In-Depth Report, “The Future of Wellness 2020”
(2) World Health Organization (May 2019) Burn-out an "occupational phenomenon": International Classification of Diseases
(3) Stewart, C (April 2020) Distribution of the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the public health measures on young people's mental health in the United Kingdom (UK) as of March 2020
(4) Freeletics (June 2018) New Study Reveals Strong Connection Between Regular Exercise and Happiness, Financial Wellness, and Sociability
(5) Hunter (April 2020) HUNTER: Food Study Special Report, America Gets Cooking
(6) Shahani, A (April 2020) This Is A Good Time To Start A Garden. Here's How
(7) Hayward, J (September 2020) Wearable Sensors 2021-2031
(8) Global Wellness Summit (November 2020) Media Experts Predict Six Wellness Trends for 2021
(9) Mintel (September 2020) US Marketing To Millennials: Incl Impact Of COVID-19 Market Report
(10) WebMD (n.d.) St. John's Wort
(11) NCCIH Clearinghouse (October 2019) Melatonin: What You Need To Know
(12) Global Wellness Institute (2018) Wellness Industry Statistics and Facts