Fashion / Wellness

Inside the Global Wellness Phenomenon — the Real History of a Healthy Movement

A Self-Proclaimed Peaceful Wellness Warrior Tells All

BY Alina Hernandez // 01.30.20

Editor’s note: Alina Hernandez is the co-founder of the First 1,000 Days of Wellness and vice chair of the Mental Wellness Initiative of the Global Wellness Institute. She considers herself a “peaceful Wellness warrior” and is passionate about supporting people to live their best lives. She has lived internationally for half of her life, and happily now calls Houston home. Here, she writes about the Global Wellness Summit and the history of an expanding movement from an insider’s perspective for PaperCity.

Thought leaders from around the globe convened for the wellness world’s yearly gathering – this time in Singapore. It marked the 13th Global Wellness Summit. On the agenda, the state of wellness – yours, mine and ours.

In past years, the places we have met have included iconic and deeply culturally rich spots such as Marrakech, Kitzbühel, Austria and Palm Beach, just to name a few – and the one thing these places have had in common is a wellness tradition of their own.

So, it was most fitting that this past year we went East to see what is now emerging, internationally – and the message was clear. “Wellness is a Global Force,” Susie Ellis, chairman & CEO of the Global Wellness Institute/Global Wellness Summit, declared.

I have been part of this community for almost seven years, and the conversations we had in Singapore were the big ideas that we now see taking shape in our world and making a big difference on how we live our lives – well.

This group of industry leaders are at the forefront of this global force, and this is the world of wellness. With a firmly established message and the power to change the way we practice self-care to live and thrive in our daily lives.

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Massage and facial move over, we are in the New Wellness world. Where scientific knowledge of what we do, eat, and how we practice stress relief can make all the difference in the way we feel, look and how we age.

Concepts and terms have come into our lexicon only in the past decade – and as recently as the last year. They cover fascinating ideas that become embodied through unique experiences such as “Forest Bathing” or “Nature Bathing.”

Closer to home, Dos Arbolitos in New Ulm, Texas, outside of Round Top, typifies the new interest in forest bathing and wellness. (Photo by Luca Lucattoni)
Closer to home, Dos Arbolitos in New Ulm, Texas, outside of Round Top, typifies the new interest in forest bathing and wellness. (Photo by Luca Lucattoni)

We hear every day something about practicing “gut health.” Intermittent fasting or vibrational sound therapies known as “gong baths” have also become “a thing.”

Whether day spas, destination spas like the renowned Lake Austin Spa, Canyon Ranch, or Rancho La Puerta – or your wellness visit to a doctor, wellness is everywhere because the term has come to be synonymous with taking care of ourselves.

But, what does this all really mean, and what does a group of thought leaders in the wellness industry have to do with the state of our health and well-being?

It turns out, everything.

Because how we have come to view and live our lives and our attitudes to health, beauty, aging and well-being started a decade and half ago, by those pioneers in the industry that saw that practicing wellness lifestyles including exercise/movement, sound nutrition, and stress resiliency are the three magic – and real components that we should have in our lives.

All are within our own power – to feel, look our best – and be our best.

Wellness Is as Old as Humans – But, It’s So Now

Wellness is a modern word and concept that began to take shape in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.

In November 1979, Dan Rather famously declared “There’s a word you don’t hear every day,” while introducing a new health segment on 60 Minutes.

Fast forward on the threshold of a third decade of the 21st century, wellness is, in fact, a word that we might hear every day, or close to it.

Fortune 500 companies offer their employee wellness programs. You can relax in a wellness spa and many of us plan on “wellness destinations” for our next vacation.

And, humans are the not the only ones to benefit from wellness visits as our beloved four-legged furry friends are also involved in this trend that has now become practice.

The origins of wellness, however, are far older – even ancient.

Aspects of the wellness concept are firmly rooted in several intellectual, religious, and medical movements in the United States and Europe in the 19th century.

The original premise of wellness can also be traced to the ancient civilizations of Greece, Rome, and Asia, whose historical traditions have indelibly influenced the modern wellness movement.

The ancient Roman world was big into wellness, including ritualistic bathing in a series of hot and cold baths. (Courtesy Medical News Today)
The ancient Roman world was big into wellness, including ritualistic bathing in a series of hot and cold baths. (Courtesy Medical News Today)

According to the Global Wellness Institute, “In the 21st century, the global wellness movement and market reached a dramatic tipping point: fitness, diet, healthy living, and well-being concepts and offerings have proliferated wildly — and the concept of wellness is transforming every industry from food and beverage to travel.”

Wellness is now firmly entrenched in our collective lexicon and pervasive in the working language of the medical establishment and government institutions.

And, the reason it is deeply grounded can be summed up one way: prevention.

That is, our wellness lifestyles comprise all the good habits we can practice for preventing chronic disease – such as cardiovascular, diabetes, obesity, cancer etc.

Walking in nature, eating fresh rich nutrient food, and going to your favorite yoga class are all part of an important menu to keep these conditions at bay – and they’re all within easy reach.

From Singapore to New York, What’s Ahead

The message from Singapore is clear: Wellness is a global force and it’s here to stay.

The Global Wellness Summit just held its annual Wellness Trends Report gathering in New York at the famous Hearst Publications tower. Whether movement and exercise, mindfulness practices, optimal nutrition, stress resiliency, or social connectivity, the yearly Global Wellness Summit Trends report has become the No. 1 go-to source for everything wellness, globally.

Each month, I hope to share with you exciting and important themes in wellness including the latest places, people and topics you need to know to create your own Wellness revolution, in 2020 and beyond.

Welcome the new you in 2020. Welcome to the New Wellness.

For more on wellness in the weeks and months ahead, come back to PaperCity’s new Wellness section.

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