Anxiety is a plague spreading across the country as fast as Fortnite, and many industries from Wellness to Pets to Plants have benefited from this.
Anxiety is that chest-tightening, breath-shortening, heart-racing feeling that likely 1 in 5 of you reading this newsletter have, according to the ADAA. What’s one of the main causes of this? Our bottomless, black hole search for happiness. Look at this unsettling google trends chart below:
Who really knows if anxiety or happiness is the chicken or the egg, but what we do know is that they clearly have a inverse relationship with each other. To further validate our decrease in happiness, here is the World Happiness Report, which ranks 156 countries by their happiness levels each year.
The not so good news is that our collective happiness in this country has been decreasing YOY pretty drastically. In 2007 we were ranked #3 for happiness; in 2018 we were ranked #18. One of the huge contributing factors to this decrease is the lack of social support - having someone you can rely on for small or big things in life. The good news though is that you have the power to spread some love to your friends and let them know you have their back. So go do that.
Another cause for anxiety is the increase of social media usage. According to Science Direct, people who spent more time using social media reported higher levels of depression and anxiety. No surprise here, but definitely a good reminder to stick to your screen time limits.
So, to make ourselves feel less anxious, and more happy - we’ve jumped into the Wellness trend headfirst. Wellness is a $4.2 TRILLION global industry according to the Global Wellness Institute 2018 Report, and this trend has seemingly popped up overnight due to its rapid growth.
Do you think it is a coincidence that wellness and anxiety have a very similar growth trajectory? Hardly.
In our desperation to cure anxiety, our judgement has become hazy.
Wellness is getting a bad rap from some, because many of the products touted as contributing to “wellness” may not actually be doing so. It is also seen as exclusive, being that it can be very expensive. GWI describes that “for the wealthy, there are now a plethora of options – superfoods, boutique studios, wellness resorts, alternative healing modalities, DNA testing, sleep aids, micro-procedures, injectable/edible substances, gadgets, and more – to aid in their quest to feel good and be 'forever young', or better yet, immortal". Is Altered Carbon actually more of a reality than a futuristic fantasy?
Either way, this is a fascinating trend that has transcended an innumerable number of industries. Meditation is the first obvious one - there are now studios cropping up in NYC like MNDFL, where you can have group or one on one meditation sessions. Headspace and Calm have a total of 77MM downloads, catapulting them to the top of Apple's 2018 trends list. Meditation has been proven to reduce anxiety and now we know the specific brain mechanisms of how it works at a neural level. Some schools have even opted for student meditation over detention, which has contributed to a decrease in suspensions.
Travel is another major category being infiltrated by wellness - how many friends have gone on a yoga retreat in the last year, and posted the semi-annoying, mostly jealousy inducing “yogi” pic of themselves? For some, the wellness travel trend has gone a bit over the top - Self Magazine puts it well: “One might also ask: How do offerings like “forest bathing, which will run you $110 for two hours, differ significantly from, say, taking a walk in the woods?”.
Obviously I couldn’t write about wellness and not mention CBD Oil, the sector that’s projected to grow 700% into a $2.1B business by 2020. CBD oil is made from either Hemp or Cannabis (but does not include any THC) and comes in every form imaginable - coffee, beer, lotions, balms, oils, supplements, gummies, water, juice, tea and even dog treats, of course. Advertisers can’t wait to get a piece of the CBD cake, but they’ll have to take a non-traditional approach for a while because currently you’re not allowed to advertise CBD products on Facebook or Google.
If you want to dive even deeper into the Wellness industry, CB Insights has compiled a fantastic white paper around the space, all of the players and how they are marketing themselves. Namaste.
Other trends that have benefited from our anxiety epidemic? Pethood and Planthood.
Over half of American households have a pet, and dog ownership is up 29% over the past decade. The plant industry is also taking off, with startups like The Sill receiving $5M round of funding. People are buying living things to help give them comfort and solace, and whether it’s in the form of a puppy or a plant doesn’t really matter because the outcome is the same. Companionship! Stress relief! Something that gives you a purpose in life! While I'm being a bit facetious, there actually are proven health benefits of owning these cute little creatures. And I can personally attest to this, see our fur baby below:
What does this all mean? America has a lot more in common than we think. We all need less anxiety and more support - so take a deep breath, go to a yoga class and maybe try some CBD Oil - and at the end of the day let’s all have a bit more empathy for each other.