Not all wellness trends are created equal. Many are worth ignoring completely even if they won’t hurt you (remember oil pulling?), while others can lead to unwanted distress — think juice cleanses — or are downright dangerous, like drinking “raw water.”
Fortunately, science has shown certain wellness trends are more than just hype. So if you’d like to switch up your health routine and try something new, the tried-and-true recommendations below are a great place to start.
Rather than loading your body full of celery juice or tea to detox your system, try detoxing your mind by putting down your phone. Scientists have reported adverse health effects associated with too much mobile phone use, including changes in brain activity, reaction times and sleep patterns. Studies show a correlation between bedtime phone use and diminished sleep efficiency, more sleep disturbance and more issues functioning during daytime hours. In a somewhat ironic development, there are even apps to help you reduce your time on … apps.
2. GO FOREST BATHING
Forest bathing, despite the somewhat confusing name, is simply the practice of walking in a forest. Being outdoors is associated with a reduction in stress and blood pressure and a boost in your mood. Organizations like The Association of Nature & Forest Therapy offer guided walks, or you can venture out on your own. Breathe in the fresh air, enjoy being among the trees, and know even the simplest activities can have positive benefits for your health.
3. LEARN TO VALUE SLEEP
For decades, being exhausted has been seen as a badge of honor. But “work hard, play hard and sleep when you’re dead” is going out the window. Science shows that inadequate sleep is associated with an increased risk of serious health disorders, including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke. These days, you can choose from a variety of sleep trackers, apps, supplements and even sleep coaches, all meant to help you get that much-needed shuteye. So don’t feel bad about getting the rest you deserve; instead, know doing so helps you thrive during your waking hours.
4. UTILIZE MUSCLE RECOVERY TECH
Between hunching over a keyboard, running, lifting weights and partaking in other physically demanding activities, your muscles go through a lot over the course of a day. So it’s only right you take care of them. Foam rollers, massage guns and compression therapy devices can loosen tight muscles and improve circulation, with studies finding vibration therapy and massage can reduce delayed onset muscle soreness. Stretching is still a viable method for staying limber and keeping muscles healthy, but give the above products a try, and you’ll get deeper into those hard-working muscles.
5. EAT A PLANT-BASED DIET
Cutting meat isn’t for everyone. But if you’re open to eating a plant-based diet, studies have found you can reduce your risk of many chronic illnesses, including heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers. Plant-based diets can also help you lose weight and keep it off if that’s one of your priorities.
6. OR TRY AN ANTI-INFLAMMATORY DIET
Nutrition plays a key role in regulating the inflammation in your body. Certain foods, like refined carbs, alcohol and sugar may cause your body to become more inflamed. Others, including leafy greens, fatty fish and antioxidant-rich berries can help you stave off inflammation. A 16-year Swedish study that followed nearly 70,000 people found eating an anti-inflammatory diet was associated with an 18% lower risk of all-cause mortality. In other words: eat better, live longer.
7. GET ONBOARD THE ALCOHOL-FREE WAGON
If you’re abstaining from alcohol or trying to reduce your consumption, your options aren’t just limited to water and iced tea. With the release of several new booze-free beers and spirits, plus countless sparkling waters, it’s possible to enjoy something festive and unleaded while your friends are drinking cocktails. Most importantly, your body will thank you for the time off. A University of Sussex study found going alcohol-free for one month can result in positive long-term changes in your health. These changes include reduced overall drinking, better control over alcohol use, better sleep, better skin and weight loss. So, it’s never a bad time to try Dry January. Or Dry June.
8. FOCUS ON GUT HEALTH
Gut health and words like “microbiome” have become more mainstream in recent years. As scientists learn more about how exactly the gut impacts overall well-being, it’s looking even more important to take care of your insides. Maintaining a healthy and diverse gut microbiome is associated with everything from immunity to disease prevention. More recently, science has studied the link between the gut and the brain, with better microbiomes connected to better brain function and a reduced risk of developing depression and anxiety. Fortunately, you can improve your gut health by eating a diverse diet loaded with fresh fruits and vegetables, plus probiotics, prebiotics and fermented foods.
9. PRIORITIZE SELF-CARE
Self-care is more than just an Instagram hashtag. It’s a movement dedicated to showing yourself some love, because to be the best version of yourself, you’ve got to take care of yourself. Self-care can take a variety of forms, from meditation to physical activity to getting a massage, and is associated with improved well-being and lower morbidity, mortality and healthcare costs.
BY KEVIN GRAY