This past weekend, the world celebrated the 10th annual Global Wellness Day, which touched the lives of millions across the globe. This year’s theme was “Protecting Our Mental Health,” which could not be more timely.
Similar to last year’s 24-hour livestream, this year’s events consisted of a 12-hour livestream concurrent with multiple safe in-person happenings and wellness education briefings held throughout the world.
Beginning in 2012 in Sapanca, Turkey, the founder of Global Wellness Day, Belgin Aksoy, was motivated by the idea that wellness should not be a luxury lifestyle, but accessible to everyone. Each year, Aksoy spotlights the three main values of wellness during the festivities: wellness should be educational, noncommercial and complementary.
Aksoy condensed her overarching wellness message into seven simple steps: walk for an hour, drink more water, avoid plastic bottles, eat healthy food, do a good deed, have a family dinner with your loved ones, go to sleep at 10 pm. This message, which originally started with 150 people, has since grown to reach thousands in over 170 countries all over the world. Recently, Barbados, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Laos, Malaysia, Venezuela and Indonesia have joined those countries already celebrating Global Wellness Day.
This year’s theme–protecting mental wellness both during and after the pandemic–extended to children as well as adults. “In a world where 1 in 10 people live with a mental health disorder, necessary steps to protect our minds and souls must be taken,” says Aksoy. “Young people are more vulnerable than adults. Research shows those aged 16 to 24 are the group most likely to report feeling lonely, especially those who are shy and introverted, and COVID-19 has only exacerbated the situation. Never has Global Wellness Day’s message of One Day Can Change Your Whole Life been more meaningful,” she continues.
This year, speakers were allotted a 10-minute slot in the livestream to speak about nutrition, exercise, new scientific developments and mental health education. Notable speakers included the 99-year-old co-founder of Rancho la Puerta and the “Godmother of Wellness” Deborah Szekely; New York Times best-selling author and wellness expert Kimberly Snyder; ambassador for youth mental health in the UK Dr. Alex George; and CEO of the Global Wellness Institute, Susie Ellis. There was a 10-minute global meditation session led by His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, a spiritual leader and ambassador of peace.
To celebrate, many countries hosted various safe and Covid-friendly events for the public. In the United States, multiple cities and businesses participated in different ways. In California, Kerstin Florian of the eponymous skincare brand hosted Guided Breathing Rituals and gave out gift bags at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Two towns in Montana hosted events to provide healthy food and food security to those in need. In Cleveland, Dr. Tammy Gutierrez taught a class on healthy eating at the Cross Road Farmers Market. For additional info, visit globalwellnessday.org.
The ongoing expansion of Global Wellness Day is significant following a year that could be described as anything but “well.” As Askoy muses, “The past year has given us the opportunity to take a step back and really think about life and how we want to live it. Most importantly, although GWD lasts for 24 hours, our message is intended to last a lifetime and the day.”