Wellness Trends for 2021 laid bare…

As we enter a new year and a new phase of COVID, I have been watching, with interest, the predictions for health and wellness in this coming year which, given the current circumstances we find ourselves in, is even more important than ever. Here is a quick summary of what the experts say we should be prioritising. See which ones resonate with you;
1. Metabolic Health – Western science has truly woken up to the importance of our digestion in maintaining immunity and in general disease prevention. This is Ayurveda, baby! Look after your agni and everything else will fall into place. Following a diet and lifestyle regime that’s in accordance with your prakriti (Ayurvedic DNA) is the best way to start. Not sure of your Prakriti? Get in touch and I will help you find it out.
2. Looking after our Mental Health – again, this has gone up the agenda. Being told to stay in the house a little longer, business worries, not seeing friends and family, feelings of anxiety, not sleeping well. All these things contribute to poor mental health, but you are in control of this. Yoga, pranayama, and meditation all help to calm the mind, stabilise out erratic thoughts, and help us to sleep whilst maintaining the health of our physical body.
3. The Importance of our Skin – Fun Fact of the Day – the skin is the largest organ in our body and can tell us a huge amount about our health. Dry skin – vata aggravation. Inflamed skin – pitta aggravation. Oily skin – kapha aggravation. We know that there is a rich landscape of flora living on our skin and its our first line of defence against airborne bacteria. All the anti-viral and anti-bacterial products we are lathering ourselves in might be having some negative, as well as well-intentioned positive, effects on our immunity. Look after your skin.
4. Food Security – The food we eat is being challenged year after year in terms of quality and quantity. This should not be looked at as a “trend”. Looking at how our ancestors ate is the key. It’s no secret that, if you make poor diet choices you are opening yourself up to the opportunity to get sick. Additives, preservatives, high sugar, high fat, high salt products – its no surprise to any of us that these are bad for our health. We eat too much and often of too much of the same thing, leading to intolerances. Eating the best quality, unprocessed, sourced locally food is, of course, the optimal goal for our gut health and therefore immunity. But if you can’t eat 100% organic, locally sourced food 100% of the time (and lets be realistic here, who can?) do the best you can. Make small changes and notice how even small changes make a difference to both your health and the amount you eat.
5. Nature –The state of our environment has finally grabbed everyone’s attention. We are killing our planet and, in the process, ourselves. The essence of Ayurveda is that we are nature. We are made up of the 5 elements the same way all the earth’s plants and living beings are. We know putting smoke into our bodies is bad – yet we pollute the atmosphere with gas-guzzling cars. We know if we ate plastic we would die – yet our seas are full of the stuff. We know we need space to breath and feel mentally well, yet we build towns and cities where we live on top of each other, often in poor conditions. Forest fires, storms, flooding, polar ice caps melting. We know we are not looking after nature the way we look after ourselves. We are being given assurances by our politicians (Scotland will be net zero by 2045) that this is going to change on a global scale and we know from the clear skies during lockdown that we can make a difference relatively quickly, but you can make your own contribution by changing the way you travel, shop and consume.
6. Micro-tracking – Do you have a fitness gadget? App on your phone, Apple watch, Fitbit? We can track our calories, distance travelled, heart rate, blood pressure, fat burn zone, respiratory rate etc, all the way down to how much we sleep, move and rest. And technology will continue to refine this. Whilst I think the data is interesting (I like tracking my steps now I am a homeworker) it can also become obsessive. We can start to be in competition with ourselves. And unless we are living in line with our Prakriti some people will exercise to exhaustion and never lose weight. Some people will eat and eat and never put on weight. Using the science of Ayurveda to get to know what the balanced, healthy you is and being content with that should be the foundation for what you track. Putting my jeans on is usually enough for me personally to know what my state of health is….
7. Attitudes towards Parenting. I can name a dozen or so parents who have just loved the opportunity to spend more time at home in a bubble with their children. Yes, home schooling and maybe working at the same time, has been challenging. But being forced to eat together, play together, explore the local area and be involved with their education has been a real blessing for many people. And for the kids involved spending more time with their parents has been hugely beneficial to their development and bonding. Sadly, we will all have to go back to where we were before in some way, shape or form but I can foresee how many people will use this experience to make real changes to the way they live, work and parent.
8. Science and Assisted Psychedelics – Not new, but certainly frowned upon in recent generations, the benefits of the effects of natural active psychedelics (e.g. magic mushrooms) in treating ailments such as PTSD are gaining new traction. As a lover of the benefits of herbs as medicine I wholeheartedly endorse the exploration and management of such treatments. If it comes from nature and is just as, if not more, effective than a chemical processed by a major profit-driven pharmaceutical company, then it’s a no-brainer. Carry on with the research….
9. To Vaccinate or not to Vaccinate? – That is the question. At present we are in control of our health. If we have a disease, we can decide whether to be treated or not, and what that treatment looks like. As we move into the vaccination stage of this pandemic, we are currently experiencing freedom of choice as to whether we take it or not. That’s the beauty of a socialist society. Pre-COVID this was a God-given but there are debates now underway as to whether this should be compulsory. And that could lead to conversations about other non-compulsory treatments. Conversely, after healthcare workers and our care home occupants who should get the vaccine next? That won’t be our choice necessarily. In many ways the choice may be taken out of our hands. Think the debate aroundour ability to make independent health choices is only just beginning.
10. Tinned Fish. Yup. A wee curve ball in at the end of this discussion. About to rise in popularity are mackerel, cockles, mussels, sardines, and anchovies – all these little fish have gone back up the health agenda. Heck we all know the goodness in Omega3 oils and the other nutritional benefits of these, and other, fish species but the point is that many of these species are more sustainable than their larger cousins, result in less food waste and are more affordable so tick a lot of boxes. If you do consume them (and remember, Ayurveda does not advise a wholly vegetarian or vegan diet if that doesn’t work for your body), just check they have been fished sustainably and come in a healthy oil/water. Sardines on toast anyone?
So, there we have it. 2021 trends laid out. None of it surprising (apart from the wee fish maybe) but even so, with all the mountains of information we can access regarding health and wellbeing we still opt to make poor choices……until now. Yoga and Ayurveda are both thousands of years old, but maybe now is the time for them, as sciences, to come back into their own and become the new norm. Wishing you all health and happiness for 2021.

What does wellness mean to you?

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