The Trillion Dollar Wellness Industry in 2020
03 January 2020
For something that doesn’t feel like it’s been around long, the wellness industry is worth a colossal amount of money—in excess of a trillion dollars. The truth, wellness is not new, just no longer fringe. With the connotations we know today, it’s been referred to since the 1950s.
But, a big but. Where once wellness was for hippies in California and other boho strongholds, in the last decade it has surged into the mainstream. Perhaps it’s our response to a world ever more saturated with technology, bland corporate enterprise, and fake experiences. It could also be a backlash to environmental worry, crisis stress levels, and outdated lifestyle habits.
Wellness is Here to Stay
Whatever the case, wellness in no longer a sporadic massage—it’s a way of life and it’s here to stay.
As the wellness industry matures, the values associated with it and its broadness, is changing. Our bodies are complex biological machines, with a myriad of different needs—and wellness is responding.
So, what does wellness look like for the coming year? Here are some emerging trends set to become big.
The Forgotten Art of Sleep
“I’ll sleep when I’m dead”. This well-known phrase glorifies a lack of something which is vital to our health. To our wellness. In modern society we seem to have forgotten how to “do sleep”. We actively banish it.
Sleep has fallen down a priority hole and is staring upwards at the artificial glow of smartphones, computers, and TVs. At a swipe we have access to news, media, socialisation, and work—24/7. Our desire for instant gratification and want to be the “best” version of ourselves (100% available, all the time), has led to us being addicted to our smartphones.
Not only are we staying awake glued to social media, but the light emitted from our electronic devices is altering our circadian rhythms.
What’s a circadian rhythm?
This is a 24-hour cycle, that governs our sleep pattern. Without artificial light, our circadian rhythms are controlled by the rising and setting of the sun. Simply, when it’s dark we get sleepy and vice versa.
When we stare at our smartphones in bed, the blue light they give off is interpreted by our brains as sunlight, which inhibits our creation of melatonin. This is the chemical responsible for that blissful bedtime feeling. We’re staying awake too late, and we’re giving ourselves insomnia.
Wellness: Sleep Optimisation
A third of us are not getting our recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Many of us are only getting around six hours.
This leaves us bleary eyed, fog-brained, and craving bed. We’ve had enough of this and decided upon action. “Sleep optimisation” is a growing search term. This centres around digital detoxing before bedtime, and curating enhanced sleeping environments—with natural light, hypoallergenic bedding, carefully designed mattresses, and sleep prioritised schedules.
Sleep is something which unites us all, so this trend is likely to be huge and unlikely to lose its relevance.
Our Return to Nature: Forest Bathing
Shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, is a long-time Japanese wellness activity, being picked up in the West. It even has our royal seal of approval.
Regardless of its name, it doesn’t involve bathing in a chilly forest stream. Shinrin-yoku is literally bathing in the forest—being amongst the trees and using all five senses to experience it. The earthy aromas, rough to the touch bark, and gentle roar of wind through thousands of leaves.
“Getting back to nature” is a concept we know well, but until recently we’ve focused on the psychological benefits. These are many—but being surrounded by trees (in particular) may have physical benefits also. Trees release phytoncides, which are thought to help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, boost our immune systems, and diminish pain.
Shinrin-yoku is said to genuinely improve the health of those who take part in it. On the one side it is a naturally calming, mentally refreshing experience and on the other, a biologically enhancing one.
Whilst communing with nature is in our DNA, concepts like shinrin-yoku are taking it to a higher level. We are learning more about the world around us and how it fits in with our lives, leading to a more purposeful, directed pursuit of wellness.
Rewilding the Self
The lives we lead in modern, civilised society can be existentially restrictive. We work, often 9-5, and have firm routines. We are also surrounded by technology, neat “wild” spaces if we live in cities, and are often told what to do and think by the powers that be.
Rewilding applied to landscapes—means letting them return to a state before human influence. Applied to our minds, it means returning to pure humanity—unaffected by politics, the daily grind, or anything else.
There isn’t a guidebook on how this works or how it fits in with wellness. However, if we perceive modern existence as sometimes sterile and synthetic, then the antidote is—wildness. In the coming years people will look to authentic and rugged experiences that let them go beyond the everyday and existentially free themselves.
Our perception of wellness is very much in line with how we view the world. We live in a time where the sharing information is easy. This allows people to educate themselves more so than ever before. Through a simple internet search, we can learn a great deal about our bodies, our planet, and the society in which we live.
Archaic ways of thinking with regards to health and environment are disappearing. We are waking up. We know how crucial it is to treat ourselves, those around us, wildlife, and our global home with respect.
This translates into the rising of an eco, social, and self-conscientious wellness. The future will see wellness as a way in which we relate to everything around us.