We travel for Wellness not to escape life, but for life not to escape us
To awaken with heightened senses to bird song and the wind rustling leaves is an altogether different dimension to experience living. What a delight to wake up to another world and re-centre yourself! I remember a heritage hotel reminiscent of a Mughal palace and a redolent lifestyle, which sported a large swing – jhula bed of yesteryears – in a verandah that had been converted into a sunroom with a glass ceiling and huge mesh floor-to-ceiling doors facing a wide garden. It was as good as sleeping outdoors – with the night sounds and sky above. When I visited the resort, some years later, it had been demolished and was an expansive, fully enclosed Luxury Suite. I believe the pendulum has come full circle. Wellness is nowa need that is being sought consciously or unconsciously, on every front.
Nothing better than Nature An immersion in Nature – be it a beach resort, a forest getaway, a hill station, outdoor activity – is the first preference when planning a short break, a holiday or a corporate incentive. Taking the back-to-nature movement forward in full force, is the ancient practice of forest-bathing, which is an immersion-in-nature process involving walking at a slow pace through a woodland to ‘absorb or bathe’ in its peace and beauty. Forest Therapy is a self-care movement, led by the abundance of benefits received in reconnecting with Nature. Research published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology states, “Natural environments turn out to be particularly rich in the characteristics necessary for restorative experiences. Being exposed to restorative environments such as a forest, lake or beach restores mental energy. Natural beauty inspires feelings of awe, which gives a secondary brain boost.” It is not surprising bungee jumping or canopy trapezing are much sought-after holiday activities. Sport and outdoor activities are the wellspring of travel these days. Anything works, so long as it is close to Nature.
Similarly, a research by Frontiers in Psychology has a paper by Human Health Laboratory, University of Illinois, US, which reports: “Time spent in and around tree-lined streets, gardens, parks, forested and agricultural lands is consistently linked to long-term health outcomes. The less green a person’s surroundings, the higher their risk of morbidity and mortality.” “The range of specific health outcomes tied to nature is startling, including depression and anxiety disorder, diabetes mellitus, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), various infectious diseases, cancer, healing from surgery, obesity, birth outcomes, cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal complaints, migraines, respiratory disease and others, reviewed below. Finally, neighbourhood greenness has been consistently tied to life expectancy and all-cause mortality.”
How Nature Wellness Works The Frontiers in Psychology research paper explains, “Many plants give off phytoncides – antimicrobial volatile organic compounds — which reduce blood pressure, alter autonomic activity and boost immune functioning. The air in forested and mountainous areas and near moving water, contains high concentrations of negative air ions, which reduce depression, among other effects. These environments also contain mycobacterium vaccae, a micro-organism that appears to boost immune functioning.”
Nature promotes relaxation and parasympathetic activity, which improves sleep , boosts immune function and counters the adverse effects of stress on energy metabolism, insulin secretion and inflammatory pathways.The Report stresses that forest walks on consecutive days increased the number and activity of anti-cancer NK cells by 50 and 56%, respectively, and activity remained significantly boosted even a month after returning to urban life – 23% higher than before the walks. Moreover, extended time in a forest decreased inflammatory cytokines implicated in chronic disease by roughly one-half. Similarly, researchers at the University of Essex found that just five minutes of physical exercise in a green space lifted spirits and self-confidence. Finally, as a society, we need to evolve and acknowledge that mental health and physical health are co-related.
Wellness Centres and Therapies With Wellness at the core of physical functionality and fitness, clarity of thinking and high productivity, not to speak of confidence boosting beauty and body profiling, a wealth of outstanding Health and Wellness retreats are available for individuals to re-centre and discover themselves. Retreats, Wellness Centres, Spa and Salons offer treatments to relax, rejuvenate, detox and energise the body, mind and soul. India’s finest Wellness offerings cover workplace wellness plans, specialty spas and therapies, hot thermal/mineral springs, fitness gyms and a variety of nutritional food.
From offering treatments based on the time-tested principles of Ayurveda and Yoga, Meditation, Acupuncture, Naturopathy and Panchakarmato therapies aimed at restoring inner balance through herbal massages, detoxification processes, Sattvic meals and holistic healing, Health and Wellness retreats are flourishing across India.
Restorative Experiences Essentially, Wellness is an inside-outside effort, not an outside-inside effort, although one must admit the outside impacts the inside as much, if not more. Hannah Bronfman, entrepreneur and a beauty, health and Wellness enthusiast in her book, ‘Do What Feels Good’ keeps it easy: “ It comes down to one simple equation: Do more of the things that feel good and less of the things that don’t. From eating delicious foods to breaking a sweat to pampering your skin to taking a minute to unwind, self-care rituals should be designed with health and happiness in mind. Because everybody deserves to feel good.” Energy levels, lifestyle and social amplification dictate each individual’s perspective. What works for one doesn’t apply to another in creating wellbeing. Therefore, while restorative experiences recharge mind and body, for each individual the rejuvenation is different. Like a piano, each note is different and we should select our own path in Wellness from the opportunities around us. A swim, a bath, a sauna, standing in the rain, singing in the bath shower: each is a water-driven restoration experience and they all work!
Similarly, outdoor or indoor exercise of any kind, including simple walking or household chores – all work. So, too, diet. In moderation all diets are useful, be it simple control over eating to being smart in cooking healthy food to fashionable fads. Regardless of what regime is on offer, intelligent selection to individual needs and adoption of what feels good for you, in moderation… all have the potential of creating Wellness for the individual.
Source: Global Wellness Institute
Statistically Speaking According to the Global Wellness Economy Monitor, 2017 saw India rank 7th in the very best 20 Wellness Tourism Markets, and 10th on the list of top 20 Spa Markets in the global world, while ranking 3rd in both top 10 Wellness Tourism Markets and top 10 Spa Markets in Asia Pacific. Indians made 56 million Wellness-related trips, both international and domestic, in 2017 (a rise of 45% over 2015), including expenditures worth US$16.3 billion.
Interestingly, India ranked 2nd with regard to leading growth markets for Wellness Tourism, depicting the average annual growth rate of 20.3% from 2015 to 2017, adding just a little over 17 million Wellness trips in exactly the same period. Furthermore, the Spa Market in India had a total of 5,990 facilities, which together generated a revenue of US$2.1 billion in 2017.
GWI estimates Wellness Tourism as a $639 billion global market in 2017, growing more than twice as fast as general tourism.GWI projects that Wellness Tourism will grow at an average annual rate of 7.5% through 2022, considerably faster than the 6.4% annual growth forecasted for overall global tourism. Global wellness tourism expenditures will reach over $919 billion in 2022, representing 18% of the global tourism market. Correspondingly, Wellness Tourism trips will grow by 8.1% annually to 1.2 billion trips in 2022.
Wellness through the ages Since ancient times, people have used travel as a means for rejuvenation and healing. Romans travelled to baths, hot springs, and seaside resorts for treatments, healthier climates, purification and spiritual rituals. For centuries, pilgrims from around the world have visited the Dead Sea for its therapeutic properties, while Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans have travelled to hot springs for relaxation and community. Russia’s first resort spa was constructed in Karelia, nearly 300 years ago, in the era of Peter the Great.
Source: Global Wellness Institute
Authentic Wellness Tourism Destinations A small, but growing number of destinations are developing a truly authentic and place-based Wellness Tourism product and brand – from the state of Kerala, India, which branded itself as the “Land of Ayurveda” over two decades ago, to neighbouring countries such as Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan, each promoting Wellness Tourism experiences that link Wellness with Yoga, Ayurveda, Meditation, Spirituality, Pilgrimage, indigenous medicine, faith healing, and happiness. Other examples include Costa Rica’s new “Wellness Pura Vida” tourism campaign and Beverly Hills’ (U.S.) “City of Wealth” tourism campaign to redefine luxury as less about materialism and more about health, purpose and happiness.
Source: Global Wellness Institute