Each year, we look forward to the Global Wellness Summit’s (GWS) annual Global Wellness Trends Report. These fascinating concepts, ideas and innovations are often solutions to some of humankind’s most daunting challenges, and 2022’s trends speak loudly to the fragility of life and our planet. 

According to the panel of worldwide experts that contribute, people are now seeking resilience and self-reliance as we emerge from the pandemic. However, we are also recognizing the need to support preceding generations, as well as our planet. Shifts include a return to intergenerational living with wellness communities that give each family member purpose through communal farming, lifelong learning opportunities and gathering spaces that bring neighbors together to socialize and support one another.

The return to nature continues as wellness travelers seek adventure and engagement through experiences that help them grow intellectually, spiritually and creatively. In major cities, the outdoors moves in through wellness playgrounds and urban bathhouses. 

Meanwhile, back on the farm, agricultural experts and scientists now emphasize restoring the earth’s soil (“regenerative agriculture”) as the next big revolution to transform farming, improve the health of our food and help lead the fight against climate change.

Technology continues to move us forward, as do wellness coaches in an emerging industry being touted as the missing link in health care. These certified professionals help us find purpose, direction and the motivation to adopt healthier behaviors.

The return to intergenerational communities

Since the ‘50s, the American Dream has been to work hard, retire early and move to a resort community where you’ll meet new friends, play golf and enjoy life. We have seen first-hand the evolution of “senior living” from heaven’s doorstep to hallowed playground, as 60 is now the new 40. We are living longer and seeking opportunities to grow, play, learn, explore and give back. And it’s just the beginning. According to GWS presenter and Cleveland Clinic Wellness Officer, Michael Roizen, MD, within the decade, 90 will be the new 40.

While many here in the desert live this dream, the pandemic has shown us the eminent value of being close to family. Imagine modern eco-friendly communities that bring everyone together while providing activities and a sense of purpose for all; with front porches, common spaces, community farming and continuing education connected to local universities. Models include Serenbe, established in Fulton County, Georgia and Kallimos Communities, designed to launch in Loveland, Colorado. 

Intergenerational communities bring families together around the dinner table once again.

These newly planned communities also take into account dire global challenges: the aging population, the short supply of housing and caregivers and the loneliness epidemic. It’s a return to a time when neighbors helped neighbors, and older generations, able to age at home with community support, passed down traditions and knowledge to youngsters eager to learn. This brings us to our next Global Wellness Trend…

The return of survivalism

We’ve created a society where convenience is king and everything is at our fingertips. In doing so, we have successfully “unlearned ancient skills” that used to be passed down through generations, such as how to start a fire or grow our own food. Today’s younger generation wants to learn. 

New concerns for our future stemming from global warming, supply chain disturbances and environmental depletions have our younger generation moving towards a survivalist mindset that GWS calls the “Next-Gen Naturalism” trend.

A 2021 global study of 10,000 young people ages 16-25 in 10 countries found that 60 percent were “very worried” or “extremely worried” about climate change, with 75 percent saying that “the future is frightening.”1 This generation has a strong desire to learn how to work with nature, not against it, and “to get back to the timeless skills that have always kept us alive.” 

How does this relate to wellness? Once seen as frivolous or “woo-woo,” wellness returns in this back-to-basics trend: solid sleep, movement, a balanced diet and conscious care for mental well-being. The thinking expands beyond an individualized focus as these fundamentals require nutrient-dense food, protecting our natural resources and knowledge of how to survive in an ever-changing world. 

We see a growth in wilderness camps, seasonal eating, home gardens and minimalism with teachings and sustainability hacks readily shared on social media. “If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that our separation from the natural world isn’t serving us. And it’s certainly not serving the planet. It’s time we get back to the wild and maybe even let it teach us a few things along the way,” state authors Skylar Hubler and Cecelia Girr.

Intention is the future of travel

The skies are open and we are ready to go. But our destinations now have a deeper purpose. This year, we want adventure, soulful stimulation, awe-inspiring experiences, connections with loved ones and enriched fulfillment. The travel industry is answering the call with opportunities to intellectually, spiritually and physically empower us.

Destinations like Southall Farms offer luxury alongside the organic farming experience. (Photo by Southall)

Indigenous experiences are expanding such as camping in a teepee in northern Sweden and participating in an Andean music ceremony in Peru’s Sacred Valley. Closer to home, first-class resorts are now offering guests experiences like Organic Farm School in Utah (The Lodge at Blue Sky, Auberge Resorts) and forest foraging or beekeeping at Tennessee’s Southall Farms described as “a farm, inn and spa rooted in sustainability, abundance and luxury” slated to open later this year. Or, maybe you’d prefer outdoor yoga, a riverside meditation and warm bath in the Calientillo River. You’ll find it at Auberge’s Hacienda AltaGracia in Costa Rico. “What we are starting to see in wellness travel is the need to reconnect with nature for healing whether it be emotional, physical, spiritual or as it relates to mental health,” said Kane Sarhan, founder of THE WELL spas. 

“The pandemic showed us what really mattered and realigned our values,” says Four Seasons Hypnotherapist Nicole Hernandez. “There’s an existential crisis and people are rethinking how to live their lives.”

Health and wellness coaching gets certified

When it comes to making changes for our health, most of us could benefit from the help and inspiration of others. Simply following your doctor’s recommendation to eat better, get more exercise and reduce stress can be daunting and may fade shortly after a strong start with good intentions.

Certified health coaches emerge as the missing link in health care.

Enter wellness coaches trained in the art and science of motivating healthy changes. As the report states, behavior change is the “hardest nut to crack” and many in health care believe that professionals proficient in the evidence-based models of behavior change have been the missing link. They even call it “one of the most potentially impactful trends” GWS has ever covered.

Locally, we see many integrative practices incorporating wellness coaches into their programs. You meet and make a plan with your doctor and then work with a coach to help implement change into your daily routine. Your doctor prescribes change, while your wellness coach advises and teaches you how to find the inner motivation to make and maintain those modifications.

The trend includes major medical institutions, such as Duke Integrative Health and the Mayo Clinic, joining the Institute for Functional Medicine in offering certification programs, and more insurance companies, including United Healthcare and Aetna, now covering the service.

Wellness in the Coachella Valley is thriving, and in many ways, we are in front of the curve. It’s exciting to view opportunities and growth on a global scale, and I encourage you to check out this year’s other trends including the health of the world’s soil, innovation in women’s health, urban bathhouses and playgrounds, male body image, digital health and wellness and the metaverse. 

Editorial by Desert Health Founder/Publisher Lauren Del Sarto. For more information and the full Global Wellness Trends report, visit www.globalwellnesssummit.com.

Reference: 1) https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3918955 

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