It has only been 12 months since the start of 2021 but it feels like an eternity after all we have been through. We brought into last year all our unrequited hopes and dreams from the year before, irreparably dashed by the Covid-19 pandemic that tore across the globe. We thought 2021 would be better than 2020, but it did not quite work out that way.
The positive that has come of last year, though, is a renewed focus on what is important: good health and longevity, for ourselves and our planet. To this end, the dominant lifestyle trends predicted for 2022 centre on personal and communal well-being — how else to stave off a global health threat if not with a strong mind and body? We have distilled some of the more interesting trends we think best resonate with busy executives of all ages as they take on the year to come. If there is one lesson we should carry forward from last year, it is that the onus is on us to take ownership of our health and happiness.
Dry January is a knee-jerk reaction to the overindulgence that typically happens in December leading up to the New Year. The problem with Dry January is that come February or March, things aren’t as dry anymore — the more you deny yourself, the more you are going to want something. The way out of this perpetual cycle is mindful drinking, that is developing a healthier relationship with alcohol and imbibing in a more responsible way.
Cultural norms that feature alcohol, like a champagne toast at a wedding or going out for happy hour, are as ingrained in our culture as eating cake for birthdays. So don’t skip the drink, just be more mindful — evaluate each tipple as you have it, have a game plan in mind for the whole evening and rehearse how you might decline a drink when you are done. Mindful drinking can result in more energy for exercise, better sleep, a more heightened immune system, and a feeling of confidence from being in control of your decisions.
Gut health for immune protection
Although the relationship between gut health and general well-being has always been there, science has increasingly proved the connection in recent times. Our gut digests food, houses a range of bacteria, absorbs energy and nutrients, and gets rid of waste products. These processes ensure not only our optimum immunity but also better mental health. Safeguarding healthy gut flora isn’t difficult — just add to your diet more whole foods, probiotics like yoghurt and kombucha, fresh fruit and vegetables, and stay clear of processed foods. Getting a colonoscopy isn’t a pleasant experience by any means, but it can rule out abnormalities and potential issues that could be brewing without you even knowing.
In response to rising levels of climate and eco-anxiety, more of us will be paying attention to our lifestyles in order to relieve feelings of unease. But while the fear of environmental doom is very real, 2022 is all about letting it fuel us to do better. Start small — stop buying water in PET bottles, opt for reusable make-up remover pads, choose local and seasonal produce and start meal planning to reduce food waste. Don’t let anyone tell you that your contribution is but a drop in the ocean — without you, the ocean would still be bereft of that one drop.
Stress-tracking and mood journaling
Awareness of a problem is step one towards managing it, which is why tracking your stress triggers and mood downers is imperative in anyone’s journey to improving their overall mental health. Some of the things to jot down include physical or mental stress symptoms (including pain or tension in your body), digestive problems, and an increased heart rate. It is more than OK to put yourself first, so pay close attention to emotional signs too, such as anger, feeling overwhelmed and racing thoughts. Also, pay attention to what works to calm your mind and release stress — visiting green spaces, being exposed to natural environments and relaxation techniques are obvious ideas, but only you know what’s best for you. Note it down so the next time you feel it is all too much, you have an arsenal of solutions to reach for.
This article first appeared on Jan 10, 2022 in The Edge Malaysia.