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Wellness is the new status symbol. Here's how to tap into it on the cheap.

Wellness is a 4 trillion dollar industry, but getting healthy doesn't have to be a budget buster.
by Jean Chatzky /  / Updated 
Image: Fresh vegetables being sold at farmers market
Aim to eat “seasonally” to both switch up your meals and save extra cash. Getty Images
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Mindfulness. Meditation. Yoga. Kale. They're all booming — and the global wellness industry is booming as a result. It's been growing at a rapid clip — about 10 percent a year — to reach nearly $4 trillion by the end of 2016. But booming overall doesn't have to translate to budget-busting for you. “The most fundamental and profound principles of wellness don’t cost money,” says Beth McGroarty, director of research and public relations at the Global Wellness Institute, which recently released its report on the top wellness trends for 2018. “As wellness becomes so huge, people are demanding more affordable, more accessible ways to get it.” Here’s how to tap into five popular wellness trends for bargain prices.

Explore Wellness Travel on the Cheap

Wellness travel — think yoga retreats, spa getaways or even hiking trips — have become a $563.2 billion global market, with some people substituting wellness vacations over the traditional relaxing or fun. Although these types of trips can be pricey (a yoga retreat abroad can set you back a few thousand dollars plus airfare costs), there are creative ways to make wellness travel accessible. Spend a day hiking locally with friends, check discount sites like Groupon and Gilt for massage deals or book a wellness “staycation” in your area. If you’re planning a business trip, consider extending it for a day to spend time exploring the area on snowshoes or booking local spa services. Another option? Search online to see if there are any hot springs — naturally occurring pools with beneficial minerals — in your state. They can reduce stress and usually cost around $25 for an all-day pass, says McGroarty.

Detach from Technology

“I’m on a tech detox right now,” says Lee Tilghman, the health blogger behind @LeeFromAmerica. She uses digital detoxes to temporarily distance herself from social media and believes they’ll be popular both in 2018 and beyond. “[Studies show] the more time you spend with screens, the more depressed and anxious you’ll be,” says McGroarty. And although many retreats and group trips offer distance from technology, shelling out hundreds or thousands of dollars isn’t necessary to achieve the same result. Try switching off your phone and laptop after work and keeping it off until the following morning. If you’re even more ambitious: “I honestly feel like a full weekend without your phone can make you feel like a new person, so if you can do it, try it,” says Tilghman. The exercise is free and gives you the opportunity to do things you’ve been putting off (think spending time with family, reading, writing or cleaning). Plus, it could save you money (no online shopping or last-minute drinks plans).

Concentrate on Clean Air

Over 90 percent of the world’s population now lives in areas where air quality violates World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. That's why some people are turning to pollution-fighting beauty regimens or vacation spots with purer air, but there are cheaper ways to cleanse the air around you. Exhibit A: Plants. “They’re natural air purifiers… [they] eat up carbon dioxide and take in toxins,” says McGroarty. You can order indoor plants for your home or office online (Amazon and eBay are some of the cheapest options, but there are also boutique plants available on sites like Etsy and The Sill.) Or invest in an air purifier. Consumer Reports has a list of the models that topped their tests, starting at $50.

Dive into Wellness and Happiness

Overall, the world’s average happiness level is 5 out of 10, according to a United Nations report surveying 155 countries. It’s not an issue to tackle overnight, but checking in with yourself on how happy you are — and why you're at that level — is important. Social connection could be key here. If you’re feeling lonely, try finding people who share your interests via a tool like Meetup, or if you work remotely, consider joining a co-working space. And especially in the age of social media and people’s tendency to compare themselves to others, another happiness tool can be mindfulness — in other words, meditation that focuses on being present and not thinking about the future or the past. There are free recordings available online (Dr. Ronald Siegel of Harvard Medical school offers some here), as well as paid apps like Calm ($59.99 for an annual subscription) and Headspace ($95.88 for an annual subscription). Tilghman says meditation has made her calmer and better at business. “I’m convinced that the stress release you get… actually helps you make better financial decisions,” she says.

Consider Clean Eating

Finally, there's food — a substantial part of most budgets. To increase your healthful intake in a cost-efficient way, try to embrace cooking. You don't have to do it every night, but every night you do will likely save both cash and calories. Tilghman says cooking the majority of her meals at home for the past five years has saved her around $500 a week. “In a couple years, that’s a down payment on a house,” she says. When you head to the grocery store, avoid shopping hungry, and plan what you’re going to make for the week ahead of time so you can stick to a list. Schedule some time on your calendar for meal-prep to help you avoid impulse-buying breakfast or lunch for work. Also, aim to eat “seasonally” to both switch up your meals and save extra cash. For example, strawberries cost around $8 a container in the winter, while in the summer, they’re often on sale for $2 or $3, says Tilghman.

With Hayden Field

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