5 emerging self-care trends for keeping well this year

Most of us will remember 2020 as the year that Covid-19 entered our lives. Aside from disrupting routines and exposing the many fragile systems underpinning society, the pandemic also radically altered how we take care of ourselves.

And about time too because for too long we have relied on flimsy bandaids and popping pills once we are sick. The case for ‘prevent rather than cure’ is now more compelling than ever as more of us take our health into our own hands in an effort to guard against contracting the coronavirus.

Below are five self-care trends to have emerged from the mess of 2020 that might inspire some new ideas for your ‘wellness survival kit’.

These trends have been informed by my work as a Shiatsu and Reiki Practitioner, my Practitioner friends in the touch therapies and ‘alternative healing’ spaces, my voluntary work as Board Director for the Shiatsu Society, and what I have observed regarding our changing needs as we learn to live with coronavirus.

So if you are feeling frazzled after the disruption of 2020 that continues to re-shape our normal or plain exhausted by having to navigate the uncertainty of life, I hope the trends will inspire some new self-care habits.

  1. Re-visiting what it means to be human, including the need for touch 

With the physical distancing rules imposed by Covid-19, “touch-hunger” is no longer specific to elderly people who lack physical interaction with others. The need for touch truly came into focus – we are social animals who thrive in cohesive communities where touch is as essential as food and shelter.

Radio 4’s Anatomy of Touch launched the findings of the world’s largest study, The Touch Test, on attitudes towards touch. The study produced nine key findings that demonstrate just how much we value interpersonal touch.

The gentle mindful touch of another can do wonders for calming nerves and providing reassurance. Whether it’s a hug, a hand on someone’s arm or holding a hand – touch another (asking for consent if appropriate) and it’s likely to have a positive impact on you both.

2. Taking self-care into our own hands, literally 

Reaching for a remedy once we are unwell is becoming an outdated wellness strategy. In this pandemic landscape, more of us are looking to act sooner rather than later, and try practices to help strengthen the immune system, boost respiratory health and lower stress.

Practitioners are responding to this demand for “empowered healing opportunities” by offering guided self-Shiatsu sessions (in-person or online) where people can learn new skills and practices. For some of us, this may feel as beneficial as having a one-to-one treatment.

For Practitioners this means taking on the role of coach, which includes teaching and leading self-care practices either in-person or online where meeting face-to-face is not possible. Read more about Guided Self-Shiatsu Sessions…

  1. Exploring the big existential questions

The pandemic has been confronting – whether perceived as a vague or real threat to your life, it is likely we have experienced a range of strong emotions. For those who have been directly affected by Covid-19, this could include emotions associated with grief and loss. Shiatsu Practitioner Tamsin Grainger writes helpful articles about these topics on her blog.

Acknowledging that we are all born and die once is a reality that can be difficult to digest for many of us, especially with end of life, and death, becoming so medicalised. Hiding very sick and dying people away in hospitals has made death a taboo and taken away any healthy discourse around this time of life.

How can we get more from life, live with loss, have a good death, and accept that the things and people we love are as impermanent as our own existence? These are topics I’ve explored in conversations at Death Cafes in recent years, experiences that though challenging were also surprisingly life-affirming. There are Death Cafes around the world – find your nearest.

  1. Going online for wellness support

With so many of us housebound on lockdown or sheltering indoors from winter weather, it is obvious why we are looking to the virtual world to support our health whether it’s instructor-led classes or learning new skills. No surprises that Zoom was 2020’s most popular yoga studio!  

in Shiatsu world, more Practitioners have been offering classes online so people can learn a range of Shiatsu-based practices such as the Makko-Ho stretches, Qi Gong (and other forms of mindful movement), acupressure points, meditation and get dietary recommendations informed by Chinese Medicine.

With these kinds of practices being learned and shared in the home, it is likely that Shiatsu could become as much of a household name as yoga.

  1. Deeper appreciation for the healing power of nature

When those living through strict lockdowns have managed to escape to a local green space, the positive impact on physical and mental health of spending time in nature has been more noticeable.  

Scientific research evidences the many benefits of spending time in nature, a practice known in Japan as “shinrin yoku” or nature therapy. Just sitting under a tree for a short while, noticing birdsong, or feeling the ground while walking barefoot can be hugely therapeutic.

In 2021 and especially with ongoing physical distancing restrictions, even more people will value the great outdoors and embrace nature (hug that tree!) as a vital element of living a healthy life.   

This trend includes a growing interest in the Five Elements of Traditional Chinese Medicine which could be understood as a guide for how we can move through the seasons and all natural cycles we experience.  

Want to try Shiatsu at home?

The Shiatsu Society’s Touch for Life campaign is giving away free resources of Shiatsu-based practices to support you through the winter months. Sign up to have the resources delivered to your inbox – there are five themes to choose from and you are welcome to them all!

The campaign also includes 12 Days of Shiatsu – a series of online Shiatsu-based classes run by expert Member Practitioners who are giving a variety of different classes, to the end of January. All proceeds from my online class on January 31st “Bring the light, spark your energy, brighten up” will be donated to Bowel Cancer UK.

Further resources

The charity Mind has produced a range of supportive information for those feeling challenged by the emotions experienced as a result of Covid-19. Read more…

The Shiatsu Society UK has a register of Members who are offering Shiatsu online here.

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About Me

I founded SJA Holistics to help people get well, feel great, and stay well using the power of practices derived from Eastern Medicine including Shiatsu, Reiki, Acupressure and Qi Gong.

For over a decade I’ve worked with Ki and have first-hand experience of how energy- and body-work can lead to positive health. Working with the energy body as well as the physical can bring profound changes to mental, emotional and physical issues.

After completing three years of study for the Professional Shiatsu Diploma, I honed my experience working voluntarily for six months in a national UK charity giving Shiatsu to people recovering from substance misuse.

It is my mission to help you recognise your own self-healing ability and to empower you with the skills and knowledge you need to dramatically improve your self-care.

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My Approach

We create your current health picture. Then we get clear on your goals so that we are aligned from the outset. This makes it easier to monitor progress.

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Intelligent Energy

Every one of us has a universal energy, also known as lifeforce, chi, prana and Ki, that underpins our whole existence, and within that, our health. Stimulating the flow of Ki is how you can get well, feel great and stay well.

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