Published: 28 February 2022. Written by: Laura Andrades.
From food to finances, we delve into the ways in which we’ll be staying well this year with these must-try wellness trends for 2022.
1) Financial wellness
Those of us who experience ‘financial wellbeing’ – feeling secure and in control of our finances – are less stressed about money, which has positive effects on mental and physical health, and on relationships. That’s according to the Money & Pensions Service and it’s a notion that’s taken hold – look at best-selling books like Open Up: Why Talking About Money Will Change Your Life by Alex Holder and The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel.
Nearly eight in 10 Brits now use money management apps, partly thanks to the pandemic, which saw people avoiding bank branches and long wait times for telephone banking. The likelihood is that now we know how useful banking apps are, we’ll use technology even more to keep on top of our finances, hopefully feeling less stressed. In fact, many newer apps have wellness at their core.
‘Being in control of current and future finances helps you make informed decisions and can help cut stress and anxiety,’ agrees Kim Jarvis, Vitality Tax and Trusts Consultant. ‘Employers are also stepping up support for their employees as they understand financial wellness leads to healthy employees.’ Talk to your HR department to see if your employer offers anything that might help.
How to do it: Check out Oval, an app which helps you to set up saving ‘steps’ based on your habits – for example, paying £1 into an account whenever you post on Facebook. Money a source of stress in your relationship? Try Honeydue which allows you both to track all your accounts and coordinate bills.
2) The climatarian diet
We all want to protect our precious planet, and one healthy way to do this is by adopting a climatarian diet – choosing foods that reduce your carbon footprint. By tweaking how you eat, you could cut your CO2 by 1.5 tonnes annually. A wellness trend that benefits you, society and the world.
‘A climatarian diet is by far the optimal diet for our health and our planet,’ says Dr Alona Pulde from nutrition app Lifesum. To eat like a climatarian, add more fruit and vegetables to your diet, but also seek out legumes, wholegrains, starchy vegetables (such as potatoes), and nuts and seeds.
‘Lentils and beans help replete the soil, reducing the need for fertilisers, and decrease greenhouse gas emissions,’ says Dr Pulde. Making a cottage pie or lasagne? Replace beef or lamb with beans, and always opt for wholegrains over refined when it comes to pasta and brown rice, as producing them consumes less energy. If you are cutting back on meat, choose poultry and pork over red meat as they need less land and water, and have lower greenhouse gas emissions.
How to do it: Buy local and seasonal veggies where you can, either by joining a veg box delivery scheme to reduce processing, packaging, food miles and food spoilage, or looking at the ‘in season’ section at the supermarket – Waitrose always has lots to choose from. Snack on nuts and seeds – full of nutrition, with a low carbon footprint. Dr Pulde has created a seven-day beginners’ meal plan here.
3) Liver health
If gut health has been the big thing in health in recent years, this year we’re going to see the spotlight firmly on our liver health, thanks to a raft of new products and a growing awareness of just how important the liver is. Starting with thinking about the impact of our increased drinking on our livers: during the pandemic, there were more deaths due to alcoholic-related liver disease and a rise in at-home drinking. However, this year, one in six adults who usually drink planned to take January off, while 25% would like to cut down on booze generally.
‘As the second-largest organ in the body, it has multiple functions. It filters our blood and removes toxins, produces bile that helps break down fat and eliminate waste, helps maintain our blood sugar, makes many factors involved in blood clotting, supports the immune system, regulates hormones and much more,’ says Dr Pulde.
‘Gut and liver health go hand-in-hand,’ adds Dr Pulde. ‘As we wake up to the importance of gut health, we should be thinking of the liver as well. Maintaining a healthy microbiome is crucial for preventing bacteria from leaking out of the gut and into the liver, which may increase the risk of liver disease.’
Get on board: If you have been drinking more alcohol units than recommended or have been experiencing fewer no-drink days, or have a family history of liver disease you can speak to your GP who may recommend a blood test. A blood test can measure the different levels of liver enzymes, and can give you an indication of how well your liver is functioning.
‘The liver has over 500 functions, and a range of vitamins, minerals, protein and essential fats are needed to help it work properly,’ says nutritionist Amanda Hamilton. ‘Sulphur-containing foods, like garlic, eggs and leafy greens such as kale and broccoli, are especially important for detoxification, while antioxidant spices such as curcumin, found in ginger and turmeric, may help prevent inflammation.’ And, of course, too much alcohol leads to an inflamed and fatty liver, so keep drinking to a minimum.
4) Sound healing
Research shows that many of us used sound and music to cope during the pandemic and now we can tap into this in a more personalised way for wellness. One idea is sound therapy. Mentioned at the Global Wellness Summit in 2020, it’s grown after two years of home working and sound therapist Simone Salvatici says she has seen ‘an enormous increase in interest.’
The gist: it’s a form of meditation which involves a practitioner using bowls, gongs and chimes to create a soundscape, while you soak it up. ‘Carefully considered, sustained sounds and certain techniques can facilitate an altered state of consciousness through a process called brainwave entrainment [where our brainwaves sync with a stimulus],’ says Salvatici. ‘During an altered state of consciousness induced by sound, we enter a self-repair mode, from a cellular and emotional aspect. We see a significant reduction in blood pressure, heart rate drops and the stress hormone cortisol in blood reduces significantly.’
‘Functional music’ is another idea – sounds created by artificial intelligence that enhance wellbeing. The theory is our brainwaves alter in response to sound, and certain sounds evoke particular responses. AI brings together all the information it needs – which brainwaves to target, the perfect beats per minute, minor or major key – and creates music to help you achieve more restful sleep, steely focus or a sense of calm. It’s early days, but as the technology ‘learns’ more, it should only get better.
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