(Excerpted from Integrated Wellness Coaching by Laurel Alexander, published by Singing Dragon 2022)
In the UK, the health and wellness industry was worth £23 billion in 2020 (Statista). Let’s look at some individual health and wellbeing trends.
- Alternative plant proteins made from a wide variety of ingredients such as spirulina, seaweed, hemp, spelt and water lentils, are likely to take a dominant position on our supermarket shelves.
- Meatless meat dishes based on plant-based foods that mimic meat favourites such as chicken-free chicken chunks, meatless meatballs and fishless fish fingers may gain a strong commercial hold.
- Expect to see ready meals and composite food products with not only more vegan and vegetarian options but with a proportion of meat being replaced by plants in products like pizza’s, lasagnas and pies.
Immune balance: The cornerstones of immune resilience are healthy eating, good sleep, resilience and exercise. We can expect to see a greater focus on the gut microbiome, in which 70% of our immune system is headquartered through personalised nutrition and intermittent fasting as a means of regenerating the immune system.
Delivery: Access to good food via meal delivery services is on the increase. Meal delivery services have become the norm over recent times, and their popularity will continue to be enjoyed.
Intuitive eating: An increasing number of people are ditching deprivation diets for intuitive eating which embraces respect for the body, listening to hunger, and most importantly, knowing when the tummy is full.
Green pantries: Watch out for green pantries as we switch to a sustainable diet that weaves our nutrition in with environmental wellbeing. Food accounts for up to 30% of the carbon footprint produced in a household. To curb this, there is a growing trend to purchasing local produce instead of frozen goods, eating in or ordering from local restaurants, and purchasing produce in season.
Stress and mindful eating: Stress contributes to constant snacking and overindulging in food. However, we are now seeing an increase in mindful eating practices referring to understanding our body’s requirements and consuming foods accordingly. As a result, these people eat food in a balanced manner, mindful of the potential consequences – hence leading to better health.
How integrated wellness coaching fits in
Increasingly I see nutritionists and dieticians adding wellness or resilience coaching to their portfolio of services. Areas of potential coaching could extend beyond the improvement and maintenance of lifestyle to cooking and growing foods.
Schools: With mental health becoming a major topic of discussion in different spheres, schools are expected to embrace the mental health of both teachers and learners.
Family life: The limelight on mental health at schools and workplaces will end up with the family becoming more conscious of each other’s mental health. This will lead to more in-depth and engaging conversations for positive change.
Radical self-care: The University of Indiana defines ‘radial self-care as ‘the assertion that you have the responsibility to take care of yourself first before attempting to take care of others.’
How integrated wellness coaching fits in with mental health
The potential for coaching is enormous. For example, resilience coaching for teachers, parents, families and students.
While I am a complementary therapist, my passion lies in talking approaches embracing the mindbody connection. I have worked with clients who have mental health issues as a stand-alone condition e.g. anxiety. However, I also see a high number of clients who have physical symptoms as a result of an unhelpful mindset e.g. high blood pressure due to being too driven. I also see clients with long-term conditions e.g. MS which in themselves can contribute to stress and depression, therefore impacting how the client manages their LTC.
The COVID pandemic has exposed many of the systemic inequalities and flaws in our society, and we are starting to recognize that we have a responsibility to do something to change this. We’ll start to see wellness reframed from something that is ‘for me’ and see it positioned as something that is ‘for all.’
How integrated wellness coaching fits in with community care
The community is the grassroots of society and offers many opportunities for the integrated wellness coach such as healthcare for a range of cultures, the homeless, elders and young people for example. Being an outreach coaching service under the auspices of a charity or your business might be a social enterprise coaching service.
In 2019, the Global Wellness Institute launched a Dying Well initiative, to open up more conversations about death, and the COVID pandemic has brought the topic back to the surface, due to the overwhelming amount of loss experienced. There’s a lot of innovation going on in how people are trying to help people navigate death and their fear of death with death doulas becoming more common.
Although early in the pandemic there was a lot of attention being paid to surface cleanliness the reality that COVID is airborne turned our attention to air purification measures. Purchases of air purification technology and air monitoring systems have risen. Air cleanliness will likely become more important as respiratory wellness, in general, becomes more important due to COVID lung complications. High-tech air purifiers that help make wellness more accessible at home are increasing. In recent years, clinical studies from US institutions such as Harvard, Stanford and Johns Hopkins have put modern science and real data behind what we’ve known for centuries: the way we breathe has profound effects on our mental and physical health and abilities.
More people are reaching out to learn new breathwork practices, such as those from the Ice Man Wim Hof and others, for rehabilitation, fitness, and relief from chronic stress, trauma and PTSD.
The working from home norm is coming through strongly, meaning our work-life balance needs to be more thoughtfully monitored. Perhaps this is why people are finding completely that hour-length of workout sessions so challenging. Following this, fitness aficionados are introducing a mini-workout method of 10-15 minute exercise sessions spread throughout the day (which also offers screen-break time).
Rise of CBD
CBD has been receiving gradual recognition as a health-boosting ingredient over the years. As a result, there is a reduction in CBD stigma and an increase in the usage of CBD products such as salve, creams, and gels.
Professional Soundbite (Emma, Promarvel CBD Coach)
As a passionate retailer of CBD oil, it was important for us to share with our customers a holistic approach to specific issues they were facing, such as managing anxiety, sleeplessness and pain. We know that mastering physical elements of stress in the body is not just about what you put into the body, but equally what is going on in the mind. Being able to offer wellness coaching as an integrated service alongside our product means we can help clients change their thinking, their habits, better manage their emotions and help identify some of these issues from their source which much of the time does not begin with a physical ailment but rather a set of circumstances or pattern of thinking. This allows our clients to gain a more comprehensive understanding of their condition or issue and make a variety of changes in the pursuit of an improved life versus reliance upon a single dietary solution. Wellness coaching skills have helped us create the space for each client to talk about their experience in a safe and confidential environment. With an open questioning style, we can understand why they have come to us, what they hope to change and how they think CBD can help them. It also allows us to develop a personal profile with each client and create a bespoke treatment plan based on individual needs and backgrounds. This gives each client a unique experience that they won’t get from other competitors. For example sharing relaxation exercises, challenging negative thought patterns or working on developing self-confidence with a client can result in some amazing outcomes when coupled with a CBD dosing regime – to see change occur is truly rewarding and reflects how well an integrated approach can work.
The COVID pandemic put the brakes on travel and gave travellers and suppliers the chance to consider what travel might look like in the future. Travellers will become more mindful of the reason for a visit while considering where to spend their money to sustain cultures and places. Consider these trends:
- More people are keen to embrace nature and to visit somewhere using human-powered means e.g. walking, cycling, climbing or kayaking.
- They may be more inclined to travel with a purpose e.g. to learn a new skill or to give back to a community in need.
- There is increased potential in intention-focused stays, with travellers seeking experts, experiences, and places that provide a sense of meaning. For some, it means getting back on a regular exercise program and returning to healthier eating habits. Others will look to the wisdom and guidance of a therapist, integrated wellness coach, or spiritual teacher for clarity and understanding with wellbeing retreats and outdoor adventure experiences the destinations of choice.
While telehealth will continue to be a viable and safe way to deliver coaching services, many coaches and clients miss seeing each other in person. Walk and talk coaching on nature trails, roads, and beaches will become more popular.
The global corporate wellness market is estimated to reach $66 billion in 2022. (Global Wellness Institute).
Where does personal and professional wellbeing meet? To what level are employers responsible for the wellbeing of their staff? Where do you think the boundaries touch?
Remote working: Many business leaders predict that remote working is here to stay. A survey from UK-based Enterprise Technology Research, expects the percentage of full-time remote workers around the world to double from 16.4% before the COVID outbreak to 34.4% in 2021 (Reuters).
Healthy lifestyle: The pandemic has been a catalyst for change in the workplace for many forward-thinking companies. When workers are mentally and physically fit and treated with respect and care, they are a company’s greatest strength and biggest asset. Employers who design employee wellbeing programs with the understanding that physical and mental health are inextricably interconnected will be rewarded with better performing, more productive and loyal employees and lower healthcare costs.
Compassionate leadership: In the coming years, business leaders will call for compassionate leadership asking employees what they need, listening to what they say and taking action. Workers are more likely to get involved when management leads by example, normalizing topics around mental health and encouraging mindfulness at work.
Mental health benefits: According to Wellable’s 2021 Employee Wellness Industry Trends Report, nine out of ten employers plan to invest more in mental health so that they are well-equipped to address the wellbeing of their employees. For knowledge workers, the fact that they found themselves increasingly working from home full-time during COVID caused feelings of loneliness. Lines are blurring between our personal and professional lives with many of us working longer hours, never fully switching off, and hence leading to burnout. Employee mental health options might include:
- Giving workers access to a 24/7 confidential helpline and free sessions with a qualified coach/therapist.
- Holistic wellbeing solutions that combine employee assistance programs and wellbeing apps with fitness and self-care.
- Resilience/mental health coaching and training.
Telehealth: Telehealth is the delivery of health care, health education, and health information services via remote technologies. A 24/7 telehealth service to employees is the way forward with Citigroup, Bank of America, and other banks being examples of organizations that are already pushing telehealth options.
Personalized wellness: Across various aspects of the employee wellbeing spectrum we are beginning to see an increased focus on personalization embracing health coaching, on-demand fitness classes, and self-care subscription services. These options give employees the possibility to choose which health and wellbeing initiative best suit their interests and needs as well as the flexibility to engage with the service where and when it works best for them.
Focus on prevention: Rather than offering employees a range of wellness benefits for when it is too late e.g. when people experience burnout, companies could focus on prevention. Here are several preventative benefits employers can offer their people such as:
- Train managers to identify (mental) health challenges
- Adaptive workplace design
- Regular health check-ups and immunizations
- Ways to encourage people to be more active such as offering standing desks or activity trackers to raise awareness of physical activity
- Workshops and/or counselling about for example healthy eating, quitting smoking, reducing alcohol use etc.
Apart from the above, managers play an important role when it comes to prevention as they are the ones able to check in with their team members regularly to ask them how they are doing, both mentally and physically and to help them take action straight away.
Adapted workplace design: The COVID pandemic has had a big impact on everybody’s workplace. For key workers in customer-facing roles, for instance, face masks and plexiglass became an indispensable part of their new workplace reality. For knowledge workers, their kitchen table has morphed into a makeshift office. However, most office workers are likely to return to their workplace for a few days a week and organizations are rethinking their workplace design to ensure the safety of their employees. For many people, their homes are becoming a permanent extension of the workplace, and organizations will increasingly need to look at how to better to facilitate their employees’ remote working environment.
Family wellness programs: Family wellness is especially relevant as an increasing number of parents are working from home. If an employee’s home life is healthy and supportive this will positively affect their work-life (and vice versa). Here are some of the things that can be part of the workers’ wellness programme:
- Help with childcare arrangements e.g. a childcare referral program.
- Allowing flexible working arrangements e.g. if an employee is homeschooling during the day, let them do their work in the evenings or early mornings, or split their working time.