Inside the Big Business of Wellness

September 20, 2021 by Artful Living

Contrary to popular belief, the art of living well is wildly uncomplicated. Daily exercise, ample sleep and stress management go a long way in helping us feel our best. But sugarcoat it and wrap it in something shiny, and you have the booming wellness market, valued at $4.5 trillion globally. Adaptogenic drinks, CBD skincare and high-tech yoga mats are just a small sampling of the endless items vying for our attention — and our dollars — all in the name of self-care.

The wellness industry’s growth didn’t happen overnight; it’s steadily garnered interest year after year. But 2020 sped up demand. The coronavirus pandemic turned the page to a never-before-seen chapter, one that pushed both healthcare and self-care — two sides of the same coin — to the forefront of our minds and our daily conversations.

So has the super-saturated market helped us get well? In a word: Maybe. Luxe leggings and LED face masks won’t make it happen on their own, though. Wellness, after all, transcends all the stuff we can buy. It’s about making positive lifestyle choices and not overindulging in not-so-great ones, like energy drinks as a substitute for sleep.

Today’s definition of self-care actually isn’t all that different than in decades past. Just look to the father of wellness, Halbert L. Dunn, MD, who laid the foundation for the modern-day movement. Back in the 1950s, he introduced the concept as “a condition of change in which the individual moves forward, climbing toward a higher potential of functioning.” Seems simple enough, right?

Wellness went mainstream in the 21st century, having been largely viewed as a fringe woo-woo fad up until that point thanks to its ancient and spiritual origins. Once solely synonymous with centuries-old disciplines (think Ayurveda and homeopathy), it transitioned from niche to normal as we sought out new ways to take control of our health.

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