pandemic health trends illo

2021 Health Trends: How Did We Take Care of Ourselves During the Pandemic?

After almost two years, we're still learning to live with the COVID-19 pandemic. But many of us started paying more attention to our personal health and trying to control what we can. We turned to guided meditation. We trembled in downward facing dog while trying to peek at Yoga With Adriene on screen. We also scrolled on social media for hours, at times neglecting sleep.

In a short series, Verywell explored different trends that have emerged since the pandemic. Our reporters talked to meditation gurus, sleep researchers, cuddle therapists, and fitness influencers on how people got into their new self-care routine.

Exercise at All Costs

exercise addiction illo

Verywell Health / Theresa Chiechi

As gyms and fitness centers faced shutdowns last year, people turned to exercise bikes like Peloton and workout videos on YouTube. The fear of being a couch potato may have driven some people to exercise more than usual as a coping mechanism. But overall, being stuck at home encouraged those who didn't exercise that much to invest more in personal fitness.

Is it healthy? Yes, but don't overextend yourself.

Will this trend last? We hope so. Starting a fitness routine is the hardest part, and the many workout options that emerged during the pandemic created a whole new crop of exercise enthusiasts.

Monitor Sleep Quality

sleep tracking

Verywell Health / Theresa Chiechi

Dramatic increases in sleep disruptions from pandemic stress have been dubbed "Coronasomnia." The phenomenon spurred growing interest in sleep-tracking devices like Oura rings and Whoop as people try to understand their own sleep pattern and quality.

Is it healthy? Sleep tracking might give you a sense of control, but commercially available trackers don't do a great job of tracking the different phases of sleep.

Will this trend last? Maybe not. It's getting a little harder to monitor sleep as social activities made a comeback.

Book a Wellness Resort Getaway

wellness resort v2

Verywell Health / Theresa Chiechi

Some medical spas and wellness resorts have seized the business opportunities to offer packages and retreats for long COVID patients, even though the condition is not well understood. These getaways may involve thermal springs, massage therapies, yoga classes, and detox programs. While these practices may not cure long COVID, they may still offer relaxation and allow you to decompress—if you can afford the price tag.

Is it healthy? To each their own, though our experts suspect many wellness resorts are gimmicks.

Will this trend last? The travel industry forecast says yes.

Sydney Cummings, NASM Personal Trainer

People are starting to understand that healthy doesn’t look a certain way. It’s a representation of how you’re functioning inside and thinking about yourself.

— Sydney Cummings, NASM Personal Trainer

Hire a Virtual Cuddle Therapist

zoom cuddle therapy

Verywell Health / Theresa Chiechi

Social distancing measures and quarantines can starve people of human touch. That's where cuddle therapists come into play. Before the pandemic, cuddlists were helping people feel comfortable with their own bodies and the sensation of touch. During COVID-19 lockdowns, some cuddlists started offering virtual therapy where you can still engage in touch exercises through Zoom.

Is it healthy? Yes, especially if you feel uncomfortable with touch and intimacy.

Will this trend last? Perhaps. Cuddle therapists are hoping this practice will be normalized as more people learn about it

Try Out a TikTok Home Remedy

TikTok home remedies

Verywell Health / Theresa Chiechi

On TikTok, you can find hundreds of DIY health tips and home remedies, from lettuce water to dandelion tea. When the pandemic seemed out of control, it was empowering for some to lean into a health-conscious community and take matters into their own hands.

Is it healthy? Some health tips and recipes are legitimate, but make sure you verify any health claims from TikTok.

Will this trend last? Absolutely.

Sit Still and Meditate

meditation illustration

Verywell Health / Theresa Chiechi

Psychotherapy is expensive, meditation is (mostly) free. Although the practice of meditation has been around for thousands of years, mobile apps and virtual sessions have helped bringing meditation into the mainstream. You can find guided meditation on Headspace whenever you need 10 minutes of quiet time, or you can follow meditation gurus who stream live sessions on social media.

Is it healthy? Yes—multiple studies have shown the benefits of meditation.

Will this trend last? Yes!

More Alone Time, More Weed

cannabis use teens illo

Verywell Health / Theresa Chiechi

When schools were closed because of COVID-19, college students were deprived of parties and hangouts. As a result of social isolation, young people drank less alcohol but turned to marijuana instead. They also seemed to prefer vape pens and edibles to a rolled joint. But as the potency of cannabis has increased drastically over the years, it does pose health risks associated with psychosis, heart problems, and more.

Is it healthy? Moderation is key.

Will this trend last? Yes, very likely.