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Get ahead of the game before next year
From nurturing our mental health to environmental care, the biggest wellbeing trends for 2022 have been revealed. All aspects of ‘wellness’ have had a shake-up over the past 18 months — from where we exercise to what we eat — but if one lesson has been learned, it’s the importance of taking good care of ourselves.
As 2021 comes to an end, use it as an opportunity to reflect and plan for the year ahead. If you haven’t finalised your goals for 2022, let these wellbeing trends help shape your habits and attitudes.
When it comes to making healthy choices, improving your digestion is one of the best things you can do for your wellbeing. With research from BUPA discovering that Google searches for ‘gut health’ are up by 83%, they predict 2022 will see more of us take good care of our gut.
“Prioritising your gut health is increasingly popular,” says Elizabeth. “Gut health can refer both to your digestive system also known as your gastrointestinal (GI) tract – and the balance of bacteria in your gut. Your gut digests food, houses a range of bacteria, absorbs energy and nutrients, and gets rid of waste products.”
If you’re not sure where to start, some of the best foods to add to your diet include wholefoods, and fresh fruit and vegetables. Staying clear of processed foods is a good goal to have for 2022, as these can disrupt healthy bacteria in your gut.
Just a few steps can go a long way in living a clean, environmentally-friendly lifestyle. According to BUPA, there has been a 418% surge in Google searches for climate anxiety, with eco anxiety also increasing by 238%. While the fear of environmental doom is a very real feeling, 2022 is all about letting it fuel us to do better.
Elizabeth adds: “You aren’t alone in your feelings – millions of people across the world will be feeling the same as you. Taking notice of your feelings and turning those into positive actions can support your wellbeing, but also make a difference for the planet.
“To make sure your eco-friendly habits stick, start by making one or two small changes to live greener, and build them up over time. For example, choose local, seasonal foods where possible, and reduce food waste by planning meals in advance.”
There is little you can do to prevent stress, but there are many things you can do to manage it more effectively. According to BUPA, 2022 will see more of us tracking our stress levels, whether that’s by using a smart watch or writing it down.
Some of the things to jot down include any 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 also pay close attention to emotional signs, too, such as anger, feeling overwhelmed and racing thoughts.
A growing number of studies have shown that visiting green spaces, being exposed to natural environments, and relaxation techniques can reduce psychological stress. Elizabeth explains the importance of giving them a go: “Practice these techniques when you’re feeling relaxed to start with and find out what works best for you. Whilst you may not feel like it, daily exercise releases feel-good chemicals in your brain. Exercising outdoors has plenty of benefits too, including boosting your mood and improving your self-esteem.”
Have you considered starting a mood diary? Well, according to BUPA, it’s another wellbeing trend set to surge in 2022. Similar to general diaries, a mood diary is focused on your emotions and will help you improve your mental health. Simply put, it’s a great way to record how you feel and why.
“After a turbulent year that’s placed great pressure on our mental health, mood journaling is becoming more and more popular,” adds Elizabeth.
“Keeping a mood journal, or emotion journal, can be a useful way to get to the root of lingering negative feelings (and increase positive ones). This allows you to recognise negative emotions and take action to help these feelings, whether it’s opening up to a friend, loved one or mental professional. Writing down your feelings has been shown to reduce your feelings of anxiety and depression, too.”
Put your wellbeing first in 2022 by trying mindful drinking — the simple concept of being intentional with your decisions around alcohol. We might indulge in a little festive tipple around Christmastime, but mindful drinking is all about having a healthier relationship with alcohol and ultimately drinking less.
It’s a fairly simple trend to adopt. Each time you pour yourself a glass, as yourself why you’re drinking. Mindful drinking is not about cutting alcohol out of your life completely, it simply exists to help improve your relationship with drink.
“It’s about being aware of why you’re drinking and how much alcohol you’re having,” says Elizabeth. “After a surge of searches on Google in 2021, it’s expected to increase even more in the new year.”
Give your immune system a helping hand in 2022 by eating a more varied diet, sleeping well, and getting your daily dose of vitamin D. According to research conducted by BUPA, Google searches on ‘boosting immune system’ have seen a 84% increase, while ‘strengthen immune system’ has also surged by 50%. Our immune systems are complex and influenced by many factors, but making small tweaks can give your body the boost it needs.
“We’re still navigating our way out of the global coronavirus pandemic, so looking after yourself has never been more important,” adds Elizabeth. “A strong immune system isn’t something you develop overnight but instead boosting your health and fitness in the weeks leading up to a much-anticipated event can make a huge difference.”
Skinmunity, a word coined by dermatoglist Dr Uliana Gout, is all about treating our skin and strengthening its defences. Born from nationwide lockdowns and having to hide behind masks, some of the ways we can care for our skin’s immunity include boosting antioxidants to fight oxidative stress, reduce inflammation and calming the skin, and doing more regular facials.
“Thanks to the pandemic, there’s now a globally-felt focus on maintaining a strong immune defence that’s reflected in the current skincare conversation,” say L’Oreal in their Skincare Trend Report. “As well as treating our skin when things appear off-kilter (sudden breakouts, bouts of redness, etc), we want to strengthen its defences; consider it dermatological prevention rather than cure.”
In the coming year, more of us are going to be tracking our sleep to make better adjustments to our routines. According to Destination Deluxe, some households will use tracking devices such as Apple Watches, Auro’s Smart Ring, or EEG Headbands, while others will turn to aromatherapy oils to complement a more restful sleep.
Sleep hygiene is all about bettering our bedtime habits, whether that’s going to sleep earlier, turning our phones off in the evening, or creating a restful environment at home. When you’re tired, you can’t function at your best, so why not put your sleep first in 2022?
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Overall, fats can help nourish your skin and prevent dryness. “Lucky for our skin, avocados are packed with monounsaturated and some polyunsaturated fats – the good fats,” explains nutritionist Jackie Newgent, RDN, CDN. “In fact, avocados are nutrient-packed in general!”
Studies suggest that there’s a beneficial association between avocado consumption and skin health, and research finds that the lutein and zeaxanthin in the fruit may help protect your skin from UV damage.
Avocados are also nutrient boosters, which means they can help enhance the body’s absorption of vitamin A and other fat-soluble nutrients. “Ultimately, this function may lead to boosting the protective effect some of these nutrients have on skin health – and overall health,” Newgent explains.
Protein is the fabric of collagen, and eggs are a top source of high-quality protein. But don’t just eat egg whites, as the yolks contain other skin-boosting nutrients – including biotin. Biotin has been shown to help promote healthy skin, hair and nails. “Whichever way crack an egg, cook up the whole egg,” Newgent says.
“Prunes are best known for promoting healthy bones and digestive health, but they provide many other benefits,” explains Newgent. One of those benefits is beautiful skin. Prunes offer a tasty and convenient way to boost your intake of polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants. Polyphenols may help to protect your skin from the potentially negative impact of UV rays, in addition to wearing sunscreen.
There’s a good reason pomegranates are an ingredient in so many beauty products. “Pomegranate seeds contain the potent antioxidant anthocyanins as well as ellagic acid, which both increase collagen production,” explains Lisa De Fazio, MS, RD, author of The Women’s Health Big Book of Smoothies & Soups.
Blueberries are excellent sources of powerful antioxidants that fight against free radicals that can damage the collagen in your skin, making it more wrinkle-prone. De Fazio says they also contain vitamins C and E, which will brighten your skin and give it a healthy glow.
“Quite simply, olive oil will keep your skin looking younger,” De Fazio says. It all has to do with the ‘good’ monounsaturated fats offered by the oil, which are associated with increased skin elasticity and firmness.
You might want to replace your morning cup of Joe with green tea if you want to look younger. “Green tea is particularly high in polyphenols, which protect collagen,” explains De Fazio.
Salmon, along with other fatty fishes, are great for turning back the hands of time due to their abundance of skin-saving omegas-3s. The popular freshwater fish also contains the carotenoid antioxidant called astaxanthin, which improves skin elasticity and hydration, according to De Fazio.
Sardines might not look pretty, but they can help you look your best. Just like salmon, they’re packed with omega-3 fatty acids.
Even if you don’t find a pearl in your oyster, you will find a whole lot of beauty benefits. Oysters are good sources of zinc, which can aid in cell renewal and repair. Zinc might possibly promote hair regrowth as well.
The antioxidant profile of dark chocolate is even more powerful than acai berries, blueberries and cranberries, De Fazio points out. “Chocolate contains antioxidants called flavanols, which protect the skin from sun damage,” she explains.
In other studies comparing high-flavanol and low-flavanol cocoa on skin function, people in the high-flavanol groups experienced better blood flow to the skin and improvements in thickness, hydration and smoothness. But the higher the cocoa content, the higher the flavanol content. “So make sure to choose dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa solids,” she urges.
Carrots are super high in beta carotene, a carotenoid that offers an abundance of health benefits, including those related to skin and hair. Not only will it get your skin glowing and protect it from sun damage, but it can help stimulate hair growth and prevent dandruff. It’s no wonder that beta carotene is a popular ingredient in many skin and haircare products.
Like many orange-hued vegetables, sweet potatoes are also loaded with beta carotene, making them a perfect beatifying side dish for your entree. Simply brush them with some extra-virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper before roasting them in the oven for about 35 minutes.
While it’s not quite as high in beta carotene as other orange vegetables, pumpkins are also a great source of the skin-boosting carotenoids, De Fazio says.
Vitamin C encourages collagen production. It also helps protect the skin from damages caused by the sun and environmental pollution. Leafy greens, including kale, spinach and collards, are good options, according to De Fazio.
Another great source of vitamin C are bell peppers. Whether you choose yellow, green or red, bell peppers contain more of the wrinkle-fighting vitamin than an orange.
Tomatoes, as well as tomato juice, are great sources of vitamin C. Chop up a few slices to add to your salad, puree them into a hearty salsa, or turn them into a delicious pasta sauce.
Broccoli is just as rich in vitamin C as it is in vitamin K, which can keep your bones and heart strong.
Sprinkle flaxseeds over your porridge, smoothies, and salads. De Fazio says they’re a great source of an omega-3 fatty acid called ALA, which protects your skin from the sun’s powerful rays and may help reduce sun-related skin damage.
For graceful aging and beautiful skin, Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, and co-author of Diabetes Comfort Food Diet and Everyday Diabetes Meals Cooking for 1 or 2, recommends including a variety of dietary antioxidants to counter free radicals that contribute to ageing. One of the easiest ways to do this is by eating walnuts. “These ‘power’ nuts have the highest amount of antioxidant activity compared to other foods and nuts,” she says. Among its many health benefits, they also contain vitamin E, melatonin and non-flavonoid polyphenols.
What do you get when you combine chicken bones with water and veggie scraps? Bone broth. The longer you allow the broth to simmer, the more collagen and gelatin are released from the bones, which gives the broth a thicker texture. Bone broth is filled with collagen, amino acids, and minerals that promote healthy, younger-looking skin.
Cinnamon has been found to have large quantities of proanthocyanidins, a class of polyphenols with powerful anti-inflammatory properties, according to Elizabeth Adler, MS, RD, CDN. “Enjoy a sprinkling of cinnamon in your morning latte to promote healthy cell production for skin health and beauty,” she says.
According to Adler, chili peppers are especially rich in vitamin C, which as we know, aids in the production of collagen. Whip up a spicy sauce with chili peppers or add a dash of the spice to soups for a little kick.
Fresh ginger contains a compound called gingerol, which has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties to help control the aging process, says Adler. “Ginger is also recommended for improved blood circulation to aid against inflammation in the body,” she says.
Adler maintains that shiitake mushrooms are a wonderful source of the essential mineral copper. “Copper aids in the synthesis and stabilisation of proteins found in the skin, including collagen and elastin,” says Adler. “It also aids in the production of an antioxidant enzyme found in the skin for protection against free radicals.”
Young soybeans, aka edamame, are high in protein, making them a tasty snack or great addition to any salad, according to Adler. Additionally, they contain a variety of vitamins and minerals, including calcium, folate, and vitamin A. They also contain a group of polyphenols called isoflavones, which strengthen your skin’s defense against UV radiation and skin inflammation.
The vitamin C found in grapefruits is a potent antioxidant, according to Cipullo. As noted earlier, vitamin C helps prevent cellular damage and aids in collagen production. Eat half a grapefruit with some Greek yogurt for a filling and healthy breakfast.
Mango is a plentiful source of vitamin A and carotenoids, says Adler. “Carotenoids are effective antioxidants involved in cell growth and immune function,” she explains.
Lentils are rich in polyphenols such as procyanidin and prodelphinidin. These polyphenols have been shown to help prevent oxidative stress, which is a factor for ageing skin. The bonus? Lentils are also a rich source of protein, fibre, and minerals like copper and non-heme iron, and B vitamins.
Acai berries aren’t just delicious, but they may also help prevent skin cancer. Cipullo points to recent research that suggests that the berries may even help decrease your risk of skin cancer. “One specific study specifically evaluated acai oil and melanoma (skin cancer) in animal models and found that acai was associated with a decrease in cancer incidence and tumour growth,” she explains. Enjoy acai with your breakfast smoothie or bowl. Just remember to cut back on the sugar by incorporating more greens and less fruit.