HEALTH, FITNESS & FASHION
The next big thing in wellness, breathwork is founded on the idea that breathing techniques can do everything from reducing stress to improving sleep.
One part meditation and one part lamaze class, breathwork will be the part of the soon-to-be-launched MindLabs online platform, which has dubbed itself the “Peloton of mental health”.
Unlike some wellness trends, this one has some scientific backing: there is evidence that controlled breathing can do things like alter a person’s mood and boost athletic performance.
Kale being so very 2015, sea greens — think kelp and wakame — are the new thing in leafy greens. They pack a nutritional punch, are high in soluble fibre, and offer a hit of umami all at once.
Expect to see your favourite cafe working sea greens into the menu and your favourite celebrity name-checking them in her morning smoothie.
This does not mean posing for a selfie in athleisure wear but refers to the growing popularity of using face rollers, massage tools and even electric stimulation to supposedly tone and tighten face muscles. The theory is a needle-free face lift, thanks to massaging techniques intended to stimulate blood circulation and collagen production, although as with many beauty treatments it is very much a caveat emptor situation.
DIY face gyming has become popular during the pandemic in countries where the prevalence of COVID-19 has made people reluctant to head to a day spa or facialist.
If you are trying to eat less meat, dairy and eggs in your daily life but lack either the desire or the willpower to go full vegetarian or vegan, you are probably a reducetarian. This trend has been going on for a while now — check out the number of non-dairy milks now on offer at the average cafe — but it is not going anywhere.
Just as Russian author Leo Tolstoy wrote that “every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”, every reducetarian may have a slightly different reason for wanting to cut back, be it about their health, the environment or concerns about animal cruelty.
Blame this one on the success of the Netflix series, Bridgerton, but one of the big fashion trends tipped for 2022 involves tight corsets, empire-lines and lace gloves. This is a look inspired by regency-era fashion, rather than an attempt to ape it entirely.
Keep the smelling salts handy for passers-by when you opt to debut your statement puffed sleeves and pearl choker in your local Coles.
Routinely described as one of the fastest growing sports of recent years, could this be the year that this mash-up of badminton, table tennis and regular tennis really breaks through in Australia?
Why not? Australia already has a Pickleball Australia Association, founded in 2020, which is a start.
The sport, which involves hitting a small ball over a low net with a paddle, can be played inside or out, only needs two to four players and takes 10-20 minutes a game, so it is not exactly a huge commitment.
Sure, you’ve heard of virtual reality and maybe you have even pretended to understand how it works but what about extended reality?
Extended reality is not so much a new concept as an umbrella term that includes virtual reality, augmented reality — think Pokemon GO —and everything in between, up to and including the much-hyped idea of the metaverse.
The potential for simulated online worlds is often associated with computer games and other forms of entertainment but this also has big implications for the way we shop and work, which could one day be online in a virtual simulated environment akin to that depicted in a lot of B-grade science-fiction movies.
If you made it through 2021 without knowing what a non-fungible token is, : congratulations. Unfortunately, 2022 may be the year you are forced to learn about them, if only to understand roughly half the jokes on Twitter.
The short version is that NFTs are digital tokens, which can be attached to anything from an original artwork to a video, in order to claim ownership of it and trade it on the blockchain.
An NFT attached to a photo of model Emily Ratajkowski that shows her standing in front of a different Instagram photo of herself, for example, sold for nearly $200,000 last year. Confused? Think of it as bragging rights that are only worth something so long as somebody else believes the hype too.
Other celebrities, including Paris Hilton, Shawn Mendes and Kate Moss, have all got onboard the NFT train to varying degrees, although the jury may still be out on whether it represents a major shake-up to the worlds of art, music and culture or a very modern take on a pyramid scheme.
DeFi or decentralised finance is a catch-all term for the world of finance that aims to operate outside conventional banking, using cryptocurrency.
The most famous crypto currency remains Bitcoin but there are too many to name here, although they can collectively be dubbed Altcoin. Anything relating to cryptocurrency tends to inspire passion on both sides and Hollywood actor Matt Damon has already come in for ridicule this year after the widespread distribution of an ad in which he compared investing in a cryptocurrency exchange app to some of history’s greatest achievements.
With banks around the world now jostling for a slice of the crypto market that was supposed to render them irrelevant, you are going to hear more about centralised versus decentralised finance in the year ahead.
If Web 1 was the days of AltaVista, Napster and terrible-looking webpages of the 1990s, and Web 2 was the slicker days dominated by Google and Facebook, then Web 3 is a way to describe what is supposed to come next.
Although the term was coined to describe an online future that never arrived, these days it usually refers to an internet built on blockchain technology, data decentralisation and which — theoretically at least — aims to take power away from big tech.
Signs of a backlash against the world’s big technology companies — think Facebook, Google and Apple — has been on the rise for years. Partly, it is about concerns over what they do with users’ data, partly it is about their social responsibility to restrict misinformation and partly it relates to issues of censorship.
Governments love to sound off about big tech, despite the fact — or perhaps because — there is not much they can do about it, so expect to see more of it this year.
The new space race
The 2022 space race is not about the Cold War-era dichotomy of the US versus the USSR but about the incredibly rich, who can afford to pay millions to go to space, versus everyone else.
Watch on for an explosion in space tourism, Elon Musk’s ambitions to make it to Mars and NASA’s plan to crash a space probe into an asteroid, which sounds a lot like it should be a Hollywood blockbuster starring Ben Affleck.
The pandemic election(s)
There is a school of thought that voters are reluctant to trade in political leaders during times of crisis. Try telling that to former US president Donald Trump, who was ousted in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Australian voters will go to the polls on or before May 21 and it is hard to imagine the result will not be a referendum on how the Government has steered the country through COVID-19.
Further afield, international elections to watch include France, where incumbent Emmanuel Macron remains the favourite but a right-wing rival is gaining traction, and the US mid-terms.
The pandemic Olympics
The Olympic Games have always had a political element but with this year’s Winter Olympics in Beijing, that will ramp up considerably.
Diplomatic boycotts have already been announced but the games will go on and there are several medal hopeful Aussies. Jarryd Hughes claimed a silver at the 2018 Games in South Korea in the snowboard cross.
Austrlalians have a natural affinity with the Winter Games given our near arctic climate. We understood few of the sports, like the skeleton where competitors hurtle head first down a track of ice and pray to survive, but love watching the snowcapped resort towns they always take place in on TV.
Could this be the year that COVID-19 goes from pandemic to endemic in Australia and the rest of the western world?
While once it might have been hoped that coronavirus could go the way of smallpox or polio, it now seems increasingly likely it will become endemic. That means it will continue to circulate in the world — and there will be outbreaks in some countries, potentially seasonal — but enough people will be immune that it will become less transmissible and outbreaks will be more localised.
Content without borders
Streaming services may be to blame for keeping the world motionless on the couch for hours on end but they have also done wonders for popularising foreign language TV and movies to English-speaking audiences.
Squid Game, Lupin and Money Heist — all foreign language hits for Netflix — will be just the beginning as streaming platforms rush to capitalise on audiences’ newfound willingness to read subtitles in pursuit of a good story.
If 2021 was the year everyone was talking about inflation, 2022 could be the year the world wraps its head around the prospect of stagflation.
Stagflation happens when high inflation is coupled with low economic growth and often high unemployment. Labour shortages and wage price pressures in the US and the UK have raised the prospect of stagflation there.
Australia may yet dodge the global trend, given inflation is running pretty close to the Reserve Bank of Australia’s preferred band of 2-3 per cent, while the country is also less vulnerable to the short-term fluctuations in the cost of labour because in part because the wage-setting process often involves multi-year agreements.
After a year that saw the death of Prince Philip and the departure of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle from British Royal Family duties, few would deny Queen Elizabeth II a chance at a knees-up.
Come June, the UK will be celebrating the Queen’s 70th year of service and hoping for a less dramatic 2022 for the beloved matriarch.
Rapid antigen tests have gone from a three-word acronym few people in Australia would have heard of to this year’s must-have, making 2020’s inexplicable rush on toilet paper look positively calm.
New rules about testing requirements for COVID-19 have made RATs just about impossible to find in some States, while WA has only just agreed to lift a ban on them. Frustration at inflated prices for the tests has not yet hit WA but stand by, with pharmacists already concerned about their ability to meet demand.
Predictions about the death of the office may have been overcooked but the ongoing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic means that many workers will be embracing a combination of working from home and on-site for some time to come.
Employees who have enjoyed a taste of hybrid work may push to retain it, given it offers more flexibility for working parents in particular. Employers in competitive industries may find themselves under pressure to offer hybrid work options to retain or attract workers.
Baby bust v boom
Falling birth rates across much of the western world — and China — will continue to be a talking point, with 51 countries now facing shrinking working age populations, compared to 17 in 2000.
Tesla chief executive and father-of-six Elon Musk has warned about the economic consequences, while the Chinese Government, once the architect of the country’s one-child policy, now wants its citizens to have three children for the good of the country.
Australia’s fertility rate hit a record low in 2020 of just 1.58 births per woman, although in WA there were 1300 more babes born in 2021 than 2020, suggesting the State may be bucking the trend — at least for now.
West Australians who want to go to the pub or see a concert this year will have to embrace the idea of vaccine passports and get used to have their proof-of-jab close to hand.
Anti-vaxxers concerned this represents a slide towards nazi Germany might want to remember that plenty of venues, from pubs to airports to primary schools, already require proof of age, identity or vaccination status.