Top five health trends of 2021: How to take care of yourself first

It’s no secret that South Africans have become more health-conscious, especially after the year we’ve had.

While the topic of personal wellness was a big one pre-pandemic, it grew stronger once COVID-19 hit. And whether you’ve started exercising more or are finally taking your vitamins, conversations around wellbeing have become more commonplace.

There are a good few wellness trends we’re itching to leave behind in 2020 (think quick-fix detoxes, fad diets and anti-masking, to name a few), but the following are worth considering as we forge ahead into 2021.

Better quality sleep a key health trend

Who would have thought sleep would have become one of the top health trends in 2021? But after 2020, it all makes sense. Now that so many of us are working remotely from home, sleep is one of the most important improvements to our daily schedule, along with implementing a work curfew.

Sleep is vital. There does not seem to be a single major organ in the body or process within the brain that isn’t optimally enhanced by sleep — or impaired when it doesn’t get enough. Several international corporations have started supporting their teams either by implementing productivity boundaries or providing napping services onsite, The Guardian reports.

Right now, the restorative industry is booming, bringing to the fore more expensive tech sleep resources like the the gravity blanket all the way to free frequency music that promotes access to REM states. This boom is fuelling research and vice versa. From this upward moving spiral, there are indications sleep quality is more impactful than nutrition and exercise combined. Yes, combined.

Focus on mindful eating

There is a growing focus on more sustainable eating, including by embracing ‘ugly’ veggies. Image: Adobe Stock

COVID-19 has also proved to us that public health is essential to the economic and physical wellbeing of our entire country. One of the most important topics that have come up over the last year is what we eat.

Health trends in 2021 include a noticeable rise in mindful eating, or, as Forbes puts it — intuitive eating. There has been a noticeable increase in people embracing food in all its forms, especially through upcycling. Nothing new for those of us who hate wasting, it simply means “ugly” vegetables and old food can be transformed into hearty, inventive meals — maggot cheese aside.

But going back to mindful eating, it’s not about depriving ourselves but rather setting a long-term goal to create a lifestyle of healthier, more sustainable eating habits. Gone are the fads of crash dieting and with it the feeling of food guilt.

When ‘radical self-care’ is called for

Hear the term “radical self-care” yet?

The University of Indiana defines it as “the assertion that you have the responsibility to take care of yourself first before attempting to take care of others”. Not so radical when you really think about it.

It includes but also goes beyond scented candles and bubble baths, alluding to doing what you truly need to do to protect yourself and your own mental health before exerting energy on others. Radical self-care is very much one of those health trends in 2021 for those who have only just become more open to focussing on their mental health and making it part of their life.

It’s a concept that has seen us embracing practices that keep us physically and psychologically healthy and fit, making time to reflect on what matters to us and challenging ourselves to grow. More so, it has become about being more vocal (and less ashamed) about the challenges we face, and encouraging others to break the stigma and proactively explore ways of helping themselves.

Time to send stress packing

Mention 2020 and most of us are guaranteed to feel triggered. It was one of the most stressful years of our time and it led to a noticeable increase in mental health issues.

Active stress management also ties into radical self-care and has resulted in many people considering supplements to support and manage their mental health and high stress levels (more on that below).

Nutritional supplements with ingredients like magnesium, B-complex vitamins, plant-based adaptogens, chamomile and CBD oil have all grown in popularity. The nutritional supplement industry has observed its highest growth in more than two decades, with a whopping 12.1% increase in 2020, according to Healthline.

Aside from supplements, many have also taken up a relaxation practice when it comes to stress management, especially those now working from home. From short yoga poses to affirmations and deep breathing activities, many new tips have come out of our experience of working remotely during the pandemic. We are learning to centre ourselves and snap out of freeze, fight or flight stress responses on a daily basis.

Better immunity a vital health trend

Recent reports also show there’s been a 50% reported increase in consumers seeking out immune-supporting supplements and superfoods. Products that contain ingredients like zinc, selenium, B complex vitamins, and vitamins C and D, have all grown in popularity in the last year. As have your more alternative and natural health remedies like elderberry, echinacea, astragalus, turmeric and ginger.

The future of immune health is becoming about more research and evidence-backed approaches with personalised nutrition leading the trend.

Remember that before taking new supplements, you should always consult a qualified healthcare provider, especially if you’re already taking medication to treat depression, anxiety or other mental illnesses.

Source: thesouthafrican.com

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