When 600+ wellness experts from 40+ nations gather to debate the future of wellness, a uniquely insightful and global view of trends unfolds. That’s what transpired at the recent Global Wellness Summit (GWS), which brought together leaders from the travel, spa, beauty, fitness, nutrition, technology, medical and architecture worlds. Last week, the organization released their top wellness trends for 2018 (and beyond).

“No other trends report is based on the perspectives of so many wellness experts,” said Susie Ellis, GWS chairman & CEO. “And every one of this year’s trends pushes the health and wellness envelope in unexpected ways.”

Here, the eight trends summarized.

Mushrooms Emerge from Underground: Whether “magic” or medicinal, shrooms’ superpowers come to light

Thanks to a surge in rather mind-blowing medical evidence, demonstrating that they reset the brain and shake the “snow globe” on rigid neural patterns, magic mushrooms will emerge from the underground, and could prove “better than existing treatments” for anxiety, depression and addiction. There’s also a legalization movement, with pushes to get magic mushrooms on ballots in California, Oregon and Colorado, and with experts predicting they will be legalized medicine within five years. The evidence also mounts that “regular” mushrooms are magical for health: particularly as stress and inflammation fighters. Playing a starring role in Asia’s centuries-old food-as-medicine philosophy, now the functional mushroom trend is becoming a global reality. Mushrooms will get infused in everything imaginable: powders, lattes, cocoas, chocolate, broths, oils and teas. And with many mushrooms boasting unique skin-boosting powers, mushroom-infused products will keep invading the beauty aisles.

A New Era of Transformative Wellness Travel: Circuits, sagas and epic storylines

“Transformational travel” is the 2018 buzzword, described as “…travel that challenges people on a deeply personal level, creating emotion through the powerful medium of storytelling…” More wellness destinations will use the power of wellness circuits and epic storylines to create a “necklace” of linked wellness experiences rather than the disconnected “beads” of programming, amenities, and itineraries. Destinations will cast guests as fearless heroines in a dramatic wellness saga: In Iceland’sThe Red Mountain Resort concept spa-goers follow the intense, five-chapter emotional and sensory voyage of an ancient Icelandic hero. The 50-minute treatment? Spa experiences will be reimagined as active, long, nature-roaming journeys (a circuit of hiking, meditation, treatments, etc.), like the all-day Spa Safari at Nihi, Sumba Island. More performance, music and art will get served up with wellness: like soaking in hot springs while listening to a live concert (coming to Peninsula Hot Springs, AU). The “transformative travel” concept will surely get used to death, but in wellness travel it’s the very brand and promise. The future for wellness travel will be engaging people’s emotions as much as evidence-based healing.

Reframing the First 1,000 Days: Pre-conception and paternity enter the health equation

The health and lifestyle choices of both parents during the pre-conception period – including emotional wellness – can impact their child’s health for a lifetime. This new trend challenges us to look before the traditional 1,000 days of pregnancy and early childhood and puts sharp focus on the role of epigenetics, the study of how gene expression changes with environmental and lifestyle factors, and that can be inherited. It also examines the father’s role in creating a supportive and healthy environment during pregnancy and after birth.

The Wellness Kitchen: Kitchens catch up with healthy eating

The newly-christened “Wellness Kitchen” will store and showcase fresh fruits and vegetables as opposed to processed foods, and new designs and technology will celebrate uncluttered, well-ventilated spaces that are as encouraging of socializing as they are of preparing healthy food.Refrigerators will be reimagined to properly store and transparently display fresh fruits and vegetables, and kitchens will have space for gardens and sprouting. Noisy appliances will be a thing of the past. Composting delivery systems and particulate and oxygen sensors will be standard features. And there will be more emphasis on healthy building materials.

Getting our “Clean Air Act” Together:
Taking personal responsibility for the air we breathe

The toxins in the air that we breathe (both indoors and out) have become a catastrophic invisible killer, responsible for the premature deaths of 6.5 million people worldwide. Over 90% of the world’s population now breathe air that violates air quality guidelines: countries like China and India are smothered in toxic air.Ultimately, we will see individuals owning their own “clean air acts.” This can mean filling homes and offices with plants, donning chic air pollution masks, actively monitoring indoor air quality using new sensors and apps, and investing in devices that purify the air around us. Significantly, this trend will put more pressure on businesses and governments to take action against the ultra-fine particulates that are dirtying our air.

Extreme Wellness: Hacking our way to better brains, bodies and overall well-being

The power to become the best we can be has never been more attainable, and the pursuit of wellness has never been more extreme. Brain “hacks” are on the rise, and there is a surge in brain-optimizing nootropics and even private brain optimization clubs, like the soon-to-launch Field in New York City, which uses neuromodulation technology to create that “elite brain.” An age of hyper-personalized, deep-view health and wellness, thanks to tests combining DNA, epigenetic and microbiome testing (like Wellness FX), is on the horizon. In the name of physical and mental wellness, humans are re-wiring themselves to achieve the once impossible. Additionally, more people will train like an Olympic athlete, or tough out extreme “mind over matter” workshops, like the “Ice Man” Wim Hof’s training in Switzerland, deploying meditation and breathwork to brave extreme ice and learn to master our immune and autonomic nervous systems. Extreme challenges and experiences will bring a wealth of super powers to everyday, ordinary humans.

Wellness Meets Happiness:
The conversation becomes more important

2018 will be the watershed backlash year against big tech, with more Silicon Valley engineers speaking out – and more medical evidence coming to light – about the disastrous effects that 24/7 digital/social media connection has on our brains and happiness. Tech fighting tech will appear, like Thrive Global’s coming tech detox app ThriveMode, which blocks texts and calls from everyone except your VIPs, alerts people you’re away from your phone, and lets you set boundaries on screen time, cutting you off when you binge. In wellness travel, off-the-grid and no WiFi destinations focused on contemplative community and nature will be the most sought after – like gorgeous Eremito’s (Italy) 50-hour silent experiences. And explicitly happiness-focused (or joy-for-joy’s sake) wellness approaches will rise. Like eating for “happiness,” with menus and diets packed with serotonin-boasting foods like tuna, salmon, nuts, seeds, bananas, green tea, dark chocolate, spinach, blueberries and blackberries. And “happy fitness” that returns exercise to childlike play, whether trampoline fitness classes (from Ireland’s Boogie Bounce to Hong Kong’s BounceLimit) or classes that feel like school recess, with everything from dodge ball to monkey bars. And yes…more laughter yoga and smile asana.

A New Feminist Wellness: From women-only, wellness-infused clubs to a storm of FemTech “solving” for women’s bodies

2017 was a year of attacks on, and fighting back, by women. With this new feminist wave, we’ve also seen a shift in the self-care concept: from more selfish (me) to more political (us). In 2018 we’ll see more women-only clubs, co-working spaces and collectives: where women work, network, empower each other, unwind and learn. Women of color will move the industry beyond #WellnessSoWhite, whether with for-them fitness and yoga classes to beauty brands rolling out cosmetic lines that reflect dozens of skin tones (Fenty Beauty). More wellness travel will be squarely aimed at women’s empowerment: from more tough all-women’s adventure travel to more “painmoons,” wellness retreats providing women emotional healing after divorce, breakups, grief, anger, loss of sexual happiness, etc. There will also be new, more feminist beauty programs, that put a brain back in the beauty equation – like Six Senses soon-to-launch Holistic Anti-Aging clinics. This fourth wave of feminism is galvanizing this rush of for-women, by-women wellness. But no matter the future political climate, this trend comes down to one fact: the sheer growth in women’s spending power, because economists agree – the global economic future is female.

To access the full 90-page report, click here.