In response to pandemic pain, more programming is tackling tougher emotions—from grief to trauma 

Back in January, at our trends event in NYC, we speculated that when travel (and the world) started to open up, wellness resorts would need to address tougher, more raw human emotions and pain given the mental wellness crisis wrought by the pandemic. We argued that the old “stress-reduction” message and therapies would now feel lightweight and that more destinations would “get real” and play it less safe with their mental wellness programming, which can often feel abstract and about achieving some kind of superhero self-optimization. People are in pain; they’ve been isolated; they seek serious mental healing and a deeper meaning in life. And the future is more intensive, comprehensive emotional wellness solutions.

This is now happening: Hotels, wellness resorts and even new real estate developments are rolling out programming to tackle everything from grief to trauma, and they’re bringing in new practitioners, from therapists and psychiatrists to hypnotherapists and spiritual healers.

It’s all part of the larger, unprecedented global conversation underway: Everyone suffers mental issues and emotional pain, even the most “well” and fit people imaginable, as evidenced by the courageous recent actions of Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles. This new, positive focus on emotional wellness is part of a larger questioning of our patriarchal society, where emotion is derided as feminine weakness.

There are numerous examples of the new emotional healing in wellness (and more below). Scream therapy has been dubbed “the new yoga,” as more people ache for the most cathartic emotional release. At Kamalaya in Thailand, their new program, “Embracing Change,” is all about healing the intense emotional stresses born of the pandemic, using everything from acupuncture to one-on-one sessions with a mentor who does some hard work with you to unriddle your emotional patterns. Accor’s Raffles Hotels and Resorts’ new wellness program is tellingly called “Emotional Wellbeing by Raffles.” Greece’s Euphoria Retreat has launched a new program for “trauma recovery,” which revolves around a lot of emotional expression work. Six Senses has been focused on “emotional hospitality” and is programming around important (but too often disregarded) concepts such as the power of love. More destinations are combining the clinical and the spiritual, such as Cavallo Point near San Francisco, which offers everything from hypnotherapy to Shamanic journeys to ease the pain.

There’s an incredible opportunity for wellness destinations to invent a new integrative mental wellness arsenal, to be a positive force in smashing taboos around mental struggles, and to give people what they now need most: to come to their emotional rescue.

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