6 Intriguing Health Trends to Track in 2022

Telehealth saw huge growth during the pandemic. Photo Courtesy: gorodenkoff/iStock

We’re now a few months into 2022, and our lives are still significantly affected by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Over the past couple of years, all the worrying, coping with illness and loss, and staying distant from loved ones has had a huge impact on our health. So this year, we’re even more eager to learn about potential new ways to boost our well-being.

Today’s health trends focus not only on physical and mental health, but also on ways to increase productivity, balance our work and home lives, expand our minds and reduce our environmental impact. All of these priorities show up in these 6 trends you may notice in your news feed this year.

Hybrid Work, Flexible Hours and Workplace Wellness

The pandemic has made the realities of childcare and work-life balance all the more apparent, with so many people joining video calls from home. So in 2022, we’ll see even more businesses allowing their workers to shift to a more flexible schedule, stay full-time remote or follow a hybrid model with a mix of remote and on-site work. 

Recent employee surveys show that people prefer the freedom and flexibility of combining work hours at home and at the office. While spending time with coworkers can be good for building rapport, having the option to work from home can make people happier and more productive.

Another workplace health trend this year is improving access to employee wellness programs. These programs can be a win-win for both employers and workers, by helping address burnout and encourage people to adopt healthier habits. So whether it’s offering on-site fitness classes or providing free memberships to mindfulness apps, we expect to see an ever-expanding array of workplace wellness benefits in the future.

Telehealth and At-Home Health Tests

The COVID-19 situation has made it hard to access in-person healthcare, leading to a huge increase in telehealth services. Statistics show that telehealth use is now a whopping 38 times higher than before the pandemic. Virtual visits are no longer just for people in rural areas with limited access to facilities. In 2022, this type of doctor-patient communication is the new normal — and it shows no signs of going away.

Similarly, at-home health tests are also on the rise. You can use these tests for everything from checking your thyroid levels to, of course, COVID-19 self-testing. Having access to at-home health tests can improve preventive care, as people may be more likely to test for potential problems when they can do so from the comfort of their homes. 

Eco-Friendly Period Products

While reusable menstrual cups gained huge popularity a couple of years ago, 2022 may be the year of period underwear. Period panties are a great eco-friendly alternative for people who find menstrual cups uncomfortable (or want an extra layer of protection with a menstrual cup), but don’t want to use disposable tampons or pads.

Period underwear use highly absorbent material that can last for up to 12 hours without leaks. You can also buy washable menstrual pads that last for hundreds of uses. And as a bonus, these products don’t have the chemical bleaches often used in traditional tampons and pads. 

Reusable period products prevent the material waste and carbon emissions from single-use pads and tampons. They also save you money, as the cost of all those disposable period products each month can really add up. With the rising interest in climate-friendly lifestyle changes, we expect eco-friendly period products to become more and more common.

CBD, Nootropics and Adaptogens

The CBD (cannabidiol) supplements market has been on the rise for years now, and all signs point to this trend continuing to rise in 2022 and beyond. Since it’s such a young industry, more research is needed on CBD’s health effects. But people may try CBD products like gummies, oils and supplement pills for their potential benefits related to anxiety, depression, insomnia and chronic pain. 

CBD is related to the rising trend in nootropics, so-called “smart drugs” that claim to boost cognitive performance. Some of these drugs, like caffeine, are as common as your morning cup of coffee, while others have less evidence for their safety and effectiveness. Plant adaptogens are another related buzzword. Companies often market these plant-based compounds (like ginseng and ashwagandha) to reduce stress, improve physical endurance or speed up recovery from illness. 

But it’s important to know that, like many popular health and wellness products, we need a lot more research about the safety and effectiveness of these substances. And as always, it’s important to talk with your doctor before trying any new supplement. For more info on common supplements, check out the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

Psychedelic Treatments and Microdosing

In recent years, psychedelic drugs like LSD and psilocybin (the active compound in hallucinogenic mushrooms) have been generating research interest for their potential mental health benefits. The science in this area is still fairly new, but promising. Researchers are studying the effectiveness of these drugs for treating conditions like depression, anxiety and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

Another related health trend is microdosing — using very small doses of psychedelics to improve well-being, enhance cognitive performance or boost empathy. Again, we need more research to understand the effects of this practice. But several cities and states in the U.S. are in the process of legalizing or decriminalizing psilocybin for therapeutic and recreational purposes, so we can expect this trend to grow in the coming years.

Weight-Neutral Healthcare

Another recent health trend is promoting a healthier relationship to weight, food and fitness. Research has shown that people who are overweight often face discrimination from healthcare professionals — and that this bias in the healthcare industry can lead to worse health outcomes.

In response, some researchers and doctors are calling for a more weight-neutral approach to health promotion. The Health at Every Size approach is one alternative to weight-centric healthcare. It promotes healthy eating and physical activity without focusing on weight loss as the end goal. 

Of course, weight-neutral thinking has been around for years. But with popular podcasts like Maintenance Phase shedding new light on the drawbacks of diet culture, we expect to hear more about this approach to health in 2022 and beyond.