The US wellness industry becomes more relevant than ever during the pandemic
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The Coronavirus pandemic hasn’t been kind on the US economy, and experts are worried about how the new business scene will look like once the quarantine is lifted. With hundreds of small businesses closing down and struggling to keep their employees, we could be looking at record rates of bankruptcy in the following months. Big companies aren’t invulnerable either. Iconic American clothing brand J-Crew has already filed for bankruptcy, and other retailers are about to start flowing. And, yet, in this new context, the wellness industry seems to be thriving and reinventing itself.
Apart from being a dangerous infectious disease, the novel Coronavirus is also a strong mental health threat. In a press conference, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo pointed out that:
“We talk about the economic consequences, but we also need to talk about the social consequences […] The stress, the anxiety, the emotions that are provoked by this crisis are truly significant, and people are struggling with the emotions as much as they are struggling with the economics.”
The Coronavirus has disrupted our daily routines, and for people who work from home, the workday has become three hours longer because of the need to overcompensate and not give the impression of “slacking off”. Being stuck inside our homes, without knowing when we can return to normal life, can take a toll on our mental wellbeing:
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“They’re nervous, they’re anxious, they’re isolated. It can bring all sorts of emotions and feelings to the surface,” he added. “When you’re isolated you don’t have people to talk to.”
Of course, wellness products can neither prevent nor treat the Coronavirus. But they can offer some sort of control and respite in otherwise overwhelming times. Or, a form of escapism and self-love.
Most people associate the term “wellness” with vitamins and other nutritional supplements, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In the hopes of boosting their immunity, people have been rushing to buy supplements, which had led to a 6% market growth and a 35% increase in sales until March 2020. Celebrities have been joining the game too, with names like Gwyneth Paltrow and Tom Brady using their massive social platforms to promote a heap of immunity-boosting supplements. Things got a little controversial here, and there has been some degree of public shaming for celebrities who supported supplements that weren’t backed up by doctors. So far, there is no medical evidence to suggest that vitamins or supplements can prevent or treat the infection with the novel Coronavirus, so scientists say that, despite the popularity boom of health supplements (which occurs whenever there’s an epidemic), we should be taking these claims with a grain of salt.
But the definition of wellness is much broader and varies from person to person. Ultimately, wellness includes all the practices and habits that help people achieve a positive state of mind, be that physical or mental. The Coronavirus pandemic has made that clearer than ever, and numerous sub-sectors now stand out:
Meditation apps have seen a massive spike in users. Since one of the symptoms of Coronavirus-induced anxiety includes difficulty sleeping and concentrating, doctors recommend guided meditation services to achieve a positive state of mind. In the US, meditation apps like Headspace, Breethe, and Ten Percent Happier now offer free unlimited access to healthcare workers, who experience the mental health toll of the pandemic the hardest.
Although makeup sales have plummeted, the skincare industry has grown by 11%. As people spend more time at home and finally have time for beauty rituals, the sales for face masks and moisturizers have increased considerably, and influencers have had their role in this. Brands like Sephora and Olay have started programs to send thank-you kits to healthcare workers on the front lines. On Reddit thread Skincare Addiction, healthcare workers now post almost daily of the skincare kits they have received from regular people. Apart from being deeply relaxing, skincare can also help with skin sensitivity and irritation caused by wearing face masks for extended periods.
Home instructors on YouTube are also becoming more popular, whether we’re talking about fitness, cooking, or music lessons. According to recent Google data, “near me” searches have dropped considerably in the past 90 days because most physical locations are now closed, and people aren’t allowed to leave their homes. Meanwhile, “with me” and “how-to” searches have spiked.
The CBD industry, which was already on an ascending path before the pandemic, continues to grow. Wanting to control the symptoms of anxiety, people are turning to natural solutions like the ones from Organic CBD Nugs to cope with insomnia and better focus at work.
Podcasts are also a much-needed respite of indoor life, and celebrities have been quick to adapt to the new entertainment rules of the pandemic. John Krasinski’s podcast, Some Good News, which featured Steve Carell for its first episode, was already praised for its positivity. Celebrity couple Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon started a podcast, Staying In with Emily and Kumail, talking about how they adapted to indoor life, and dozens of A-listers joined the Save with Stories program, where they read children’s stories to kids stuck at home.
Although it’s not usually associated with wellness, the gaming industry is experiencing a major change in perception, as mental health experts recommend playing games to cope with anxiety symptoms and stay busy during the pandemic. Gaming can be a great outlet for stress relief, and the sales are proving it. Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons, released at the peak of the pandemic, quickly became their fastest-selling title, and it’s now the most talked-about game in the world. Without featuring any violence, intense storyline, or complicated game mechanics, the game has become a form of escapism of relaxation for Millennials, expanding conventional understanding of wellness and self-care.
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