Susannah Taylor explores the wellness trends for 2022.
Face your fears virtually
There currently aren’t enough psychological practitioners in the UK to help with our mental health crisis ‒ but could virtual therapy be the solution? OxfordVR (ovrhealth.com), a spin-off from Oxford University, is pioneering new immersive treatments for mental health problems such as anxiety and psychosis. A session consists of wearing a headset while a virtual therapist gently exposes you to a simulated environment. For example, someone with social anxiety can enter a virtual party full of people. Findings published in The Lancet showed results were better than face-to-face therapy. A study of patients with a fear of heights had a reduction in fear of over 68 per cent.
Downtime for the mind
We’re so adept at multitasking that we can click and swipe while cooking or walking the dog. Yet while the digital world is developing frighteningly fast, the human brain isn’t wired to keep up. Technology can always adapt to new hardware, but our grey matter evolves much more slowly. In order to stay sane it’s important we practise slowing down our minds. Dubbed ‘mental deceleration’ – meditation and mindful breathing techniques will be more important than ever in 2022 for helping our brains (and bodies) unwind.
Once a upon a time anyone over 50 was told to slow down and put their feet up. Not any more. A league of inspiring older ‘fitfluencers’ such as 74-year-old Joan MacDonald (@trainwithjoan), and 66-year-old Wendy Ida (@wendyidafitness) have proven that you can lunge, squat, lift and sport a crop top at any age. Statistics show that one in two women will break a bone over the age of 50 due to osteoporosis, so we will see a greater focus on bone health and bone-boosting habits, including weight-bearing activity which builds bone density as we age.
Sound as sanctuary
Music looks set to be the next gamechanger within digital wellness. As the demand for non-pharmaceutical health solutions grows, many brands are focusing on the healing powers of sound. One such company is the mental health app Calm, which originally introduced ‘soundscapes’ of rainfall and crackling fires. Now it is partnering with musicians to create melodies for wellness. Meanwhile, Spotify continues to curate playlists that influence our mood from ‘Good Energy’ to ‘Chill Tracks’ and is looking to personalise our playlists to improve our performance and overall wellbeing.
Say goodbye to oral vitamins. The next big things on the supplements scene are patches. These work by transdermal delivery (the same way as a nicotine or HRT patch). The science is that they bypass the digestive system for maximum absorption (as opposed to oral supplements that need to be digested, reducing their efficacy). To see the selection on offer, head to vilwellness.com.
Eating for your genes
Watch out for nutrigenomics, a cutting-edge branch of science that explores how nutrition affects our genes and specifically gene expression ‒ which is central to our health and wellbeing. Karmacist is a new supplements brand ‒ set up with the help of Professor Vittorio Sebastiano, an epigeneticist at Stanford University School of Medicine in California, and nutritional psychiatrist Dr Uma Naidoo ‒ that offers a range of botanical-based formulas to help our genes work efficiently. For example, saffron and turmeric help regulate your mood gene; while reishi mushrooms combined with black garlic help boost your gene for immunity.
My latest wonder wand
A huge advocate of Ayurvedic medicine, Jasmine Hemsley has just launched her Kansa Wand (£45, jasminehemsley.com). Used in India for centuries, it consists of a solid teak handle with a polished copper dome for massaging from the top of your head down to your toes. It’s shaped to activate the body’s Marma points (vitality points), increasing the flow of Prana (life-force energy), while the ‘sacred’ bronze metal has alkaline properties to balance your skin’s pH.
The cagoule gets cool
Thanks to brands such as Sweaty Betty, the cagoule is ditching its geeky reputation. I love the very stylish Mission Waterproof Jacket (£185, sweatybetty.com), which is set to turn rainy days into stylish ones. Using a three-layer fabric, it is waterproof and breathable, available in gorgeous colourways and has a flattering cinched-in waist.