Health and wellness

The Hottest Wellness Trends

Don’t know your ayurveda from your vitamin drips? With wellness travel on the rise, we demystify some of the hottest trends, from the new age to the old school

Around the world, we’re hungering for a better balance between the go-go-go pace of life and an increasing need for self-care. This quest for health, happiness and self-optimisation has brought the concept of wellness into the mainstream over the past five years – and the trend is showing no signs of slowing down. According to the Global Wellness Institute, 17% of tourism dollars is spent on wellness travel and 7.5% year-on-year growth is expected for wellness travel until 2022. But even for the most spa-loving individuals, the quickly evolving wellness landscape can be intimidating and confusing. Let our guide fill you in on the latest.

1. Digital Detox

Screen addiction is real. Digital detoxes are all about putting away your phone, laptop, tablet and virtual-reality headset to focus on the people, environment and moments around you. It’s a way to destress and put time into concrete activities and social interactions.

Try it: You could simply turn off your phone – but it’s not called an addiction for nothing. Try an app that limits phone usage: Forest, Siempo and Stay Focused are a few favourites. A decadent option is the Mandarin Oriental hotel group’s Digital Wellness Programme, which has guests turn in their phones and focus on other activities.

2. Green Beauty

So you’ve started to eat more vegetables and less meat. But have you considered your cosmetics? To meet the demands of increasingly eco- and health-conscious consumers, the beauty industry is creating products made with sustainable, plant-based, organic ingredients that have fewer harmful chemicals. They’re better for the environment and your skin.

Try it: Plenty of brands, both high-end and affordable, have joined the green beauty bandwagon. Our picks: Derma E, Le Labo, e.l.f and Pacifica.

Wellness, spa
Chris Gramly / GSPictures / Getty Images

3. Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is a diet pattern in which you eat normally a few days a week, then fast (consuming less than 600 calories) on other days. There are several programme options, such as the 16-8 method, which calls for 16 hours of fasting a day; and the 5-2 cycle, in which you fast for two non-consecutive days each week. Some studies have suggested that these practices could reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and even cancer.

Try it: Amatara Phuket has two weeklong intermittent fasting retreats, where you can learn fasting basics, then give it a go to see if it’s a good fit for your goals and lifestyle. 

4. Plant-based Meats

Even among carnivores, plant-based meat alternatives like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods have made an impact, thanks to their meaty taste and textures. Meanwhile, pork substitute Omnipork was developed in Hong Kong and has been similarly well received. These new forms of meat are packed with nutrients and come with a fraction of the carbon footprint.

Try it: Green Common, Hotel Icon and even the Butchers Club in Hong Kong all feature modern plant-based meats on their menus.

5. Intravenous Drips

It sounds extreme, but health-boosting intravenous drips are slowly becoming more mainstream. Delivering a hydrating mix of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and electrolytes straight to your bloodstream, IV therapy can improve conditions like hangovers, jet lag, common colds and dull skin. It’s like eating a nutrient-packed lunch, drinking two litres of water and getting eight hours’ sleep in just 45 minutes.

Try it: In Hong Kong, Reviv is one place to try IV therapy.

6. FemTech

From period-tracking apps to smart breast pumps, cancer-detecting bra liners to fertility predictors, FemTech refers to technology that’s focused on improving women’s lives. Despite appealing to only half the world’s population, the sector has soared and could reach a value of US$50 billion by 2025, according to research company Frost & Sullivan.

Try it: Check out Clue, an app that tracks periods and fertility; FloHealth, a digital fertility predictor; and Nurx, which has been called the ‘Uber for birth control’, providing delivery service of your favourite products.

Wellness
Manuelo Bececco / Moment RF / Getty Images

7. Aromatherapy

It’s neuroscience: scents can alter your emotions. The ’90s aromatherapy trend is making a resurgence, with courses helping a new generation learn to stay calm with a whiff of lavender oil or feel happy with bergamot.

Try it: Head to your nearest health-food store for essential oils, or indulge in a blended body oil by trusted brand Aromatherapy Associates.

5 Trending Traditional Therapies

“Asia is a significant leader in the global wellness economy, and that extends to travel, too: the region is the fastest-growing wellness tourism market in the world, with China and India leading the way. It makes sense. We have the largest number of spas and thermal springs in the world, and most of the ancient healing therapies have their origins here,” says Lahra Tatriele, CEO & vision director of Fivelements.

Ayurveda

Wellness
The Picture Pantry / Alloy / Getty Images

Meaning ‘the sacred knowledge of life’ in Sanskrit, Ayurveda is an ancient holistic healing system that originated in the Indian subcontinent. According to the philosophy, every person has a unique combination of three doshas, or biological energies. Your balance of doshas informs your traits like health state, personality, appearance and mental stamina. The goal with Ayurveda is to maintain your natural equilibrium through a mix of natural treatments and meditative exercises – think herbal medicines, massages and yoga, as well as diet and lifestyle recommendations.

Mindfulness

Now a household word, mindfulness can be traced to ancient Buddhist, Zen and Tibetan meditation traditions. It’s all about paying attention to the present moment, accepting what comes without judgement and channelling this renewed awareness into everyday life and interactions. Studies have found that mindfulness techniques (such as meditation, yoga, tai chi and breathing work) can lead to better focus, improved memory and decreased stress.

Acupuncture

Wellness
Alina555 / Getty Images

With roots in traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture aims to unblock the flow of qi (your life force or energy) using ultra-thin needles placed into the body at strategic points. The points are key – these areas are carefully chosen for their high concentrations of nerve endings which, when stimulated, are thought to release endorphins and naturally combat pain. The scientific evidence backing acupuncture’s efficacy is decently strong – but just ask the numerous wellness devotees who have used it to relieve pain, tackle illness, improve relaxation and encourage mindfulness.

Mindfulness

Now a household word, mindfulness can be traced to ancient Buddhist, Zen and Tibetan meditation traditions. It’s all about paying attention to the present moment, accepting what comes without judgement and channelling this renewed awareness into everyday life and interactions. Studies have found that mindfulness techniques (such as meditation, yoga, tai chi and breathing work) can lead to better focus, improved memory and decreased stress.

Reiki

Reiki, meaning ‘universal energy’, is said to have been invented by a Japanese Buddhist in the 1920s – although some say it actually originated in Tibet long before. In a Reiki session, the practitioner’s hands are laid on the patient or hover just above where there is pain or illness to rebalance or unblock the chakras (energy centres). While there isn’t much scientific support behind this therapy, many use it to relieve physical pain and reduce stress.   

Hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapy is a method of reprogramming the subconscious mind. Experts use certain commands to bring patients into a trance-like state, during which individuals learn how to change aspects of their lives. Psychologists incorporate it into behavioural therapy for treating substance abuse, anxiety, phobias and bad habits.

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