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December 20, 2022

The biggest health trends of 2023 may include journaling and eating kelp

The use of creative hobbies – like writing or origami – as self-care is expected to gain popularity in the new year

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Health trends 2023 Content Pixie/Unsplash

The many health trends predicted for 2023 include a focus on mental health. The use of creative hobbies, like journaling, as self-care is expected to gain traction.

The COVID-19 pandemic pushed the state of Americans' mental health to the forefront and, nearly three years since the pandemic began – self-care remains a high priority for many.

A focus on protecting one's mental health is expected to remain among the biggest health trends in 2023. So are mindful drinking, upcycled foods and retail health care.

1. A focus on mental health

Research has shown that more people are reporting struggles with depression or anxiety. A 2020 study found that 45% of young adults were having high anxiety and 43% were experiencing depression. 

With that, the need for mental health support is growing. According to the CDC, the percentage of American adults ages 18 to 44 who received mental health treatment in the last year increased from 18.5% in 2019 to 23.2% last year. This surge in need is simultaneously putting mental health care providers at risk of burnout as they try to support as many patients as they can.

But efforts have been made to reduce the stigma attached to mental health issues; many people are more open to talking about the way they are feeling. On TikTok, many people are emphasizing self-care to reduce stress and anxiety, especially by setting boundaries and saying "no" more often.

2. Creative outlets for expressing emotions

The use of creative hobbies as healthy ways to explore and express emotions is another form of self-care that is expected to grow in popularity in 2023. 

Journaling, writing, creating art and playing music as forms of therapy are on the rise. Paper art forms, like origami, are particularly popular, according to Pinterest.

3. Wearable medical devices

The use of wearable medical devices to track health metrics and exercise activity is expected to grow in the next year. From measuring heart rate and blood oxygen levels to performing ECGs and predicting the risk of a heart attack, these devices are becoming more and more sophisticated. 

Smart gloves even have been developed for patients with Parkinson's disease to reduce tremors, and some researchers are working on devices that can detect signs of mental illness by using physical indicators such as activity levels, sleep patterns and heart rate.

Fitness trackers also are expected to remain popular in 2023. And augmented reality and virtual reality are beginning to play a more important role in fitness as people want more entertainment value in their fitness routines.

4. Mindful drinking

From Dry January to a "damp" lifestyle, more mindful drinking is expected to remain trendy in 2023. Health issues caused by too much alcohol has led many people to cut back on their consumption. 

Followers of a 'damp" lifestyle focus on only drinking in moderation. The idea is to be more mindful of what you are consuming and to cut back if it is affecting your health. Online searches are showing an uptick in non-alcoholic beverages.

5. Back-to-basics fitness

With more people enjoying flexible work schedules than ever before thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the idea of "movement snacks" has gained momentum. Studies have shown that breaking up workouts into bite size moments sprinkled throughout the day may be better for the body. A bonus is that people get to enjoy the post-workout endorphins rush multiple times a day.

Fitness experts say there has been a cultural shift away from the need to lose weight. Instead, people are seeking to maximize mobility and flexibility as they age. A Pinterest analysis shows an uptick in searches for the term "primal movement" – improving body mechanics to increase strength and range of motion, thereby making everyday movements easier. Posture improvement and knee and hip mobility exercises are especially of interest to Pinterest users.

6. Upcycled foods

Concerns over food shortages and sustainability issues are leading more restaurants, and people, to upcycle food. This means repurposing the byproducts of food production. 

Some coffee shops are now using cascara, a fruit pulp that is a byproduct of coffee production, to make a hot beverage much like a herbal tea. Nutrition experts predict that consumers will start to see upcycled products – everything from chips to flour mixes – on the shelves of their grocery stores in the new year.

People can easily upcycle foods at home, too, according to chef Boris Ginet, owner of the restaurant Risbo in Brooklyn New York. He gave the example of "repurposing the pulp from juicing to make veggie broth or allowing pulp to dehydrate to make veggie burgers."

7. Kelp and other sea plants

Edible sea plants may become increasingly popular in the new year. Whole Foods predicts kelp will especially be big.

"Expect to see more kelp-inspired products on grocery store shelves in 2023," EatingWell associate food editor Alex Loh reports. "Whether it's kelp chips or kelp noodles, the algae is a nutritious, versatile product that's also good for the environment. Kelp can help absorb carbon in the atmosphere and doesn't require freshwater or added nutrients, two major wins in the age of climate consciousness."

Sea plants like kelp, wakame and nori are packed with minerals and vitamins, plus phytochemicals and antioxidants that help protect cells against free radicals and inflammation.

8. Remote and retail health care

The use of telehealth surged during the COVID-19 pandemic and is expected to remain a popular option as people look to find more convenient and less expensive ways to manage their health. In May, one survey found 77% of people planned to manage their health by using a combination of telehealth and in-person care in the future; 83% of providers said the future of health care will include telehalth and in-person visits. 

Other forms of remote health care, such as home-based care and using robotic technology to carry out surgery on patients living in remote locations, also are expected to gain traction. In addition, the use of retail health care is predicted to double during 2023. More patients will be turning to retailers such as Walmart, Amazon and CVS for blood tests, vaccinations and check-ups to avoid long wait times at doctor's offices, health experts say.

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