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How COVID-19 has changed the concept of wellness

Image by Shahariar Lenin from Pixabay

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a wellness wake-up call for people who may not have been open to the concept before.

So said Melisse Gelula, co-founder of pioneering digital media company, Well+Good, in a recent interview with Beth McGroarty, VP, Research & Forecasting, Global Wellness Institute (GWI).

Gelula continued: “Pre-COVID, wellness was increasingly associated with very consumer-y trends, such as organic salads, collagen supplements, etc. Wellness was increasingly seen as being a very elitist and privileged industry.

“But when the pandemic hit, all of us, everywhere, suddenly found ourselves facing something huge and serious. We desperately needed things in our everyday lives to help fortify our health, our sanity, our communities, and our homes. Overnight, people woke up to the importance of more real, accessible wellness for themselves and their families.

“Many of us have been arguing forever that wellness is a lifestyle; many of us have been fighting for the idea that wellness needs to be more accessible to all. This crisis has provided proof for that in ways that everyone can understand. Wellness has become more vital in a Maslow’s hierarchy of needs kind of way. So, I see the word ‘wellness’ losing some of its stigma. And if health and wellness once occupied separate channels, now I see them coming closer together.”

Gelula noted that the pandemic has seen people rushing to proven, beneficial wellness practices that cost little or nothing, such as learning, or practicing meditation, or getting out into nature and walking.

“There’s a lot of data that shows the ways that people worldwide are restructuring their lives around wellbeing practices,” stated Gelula. “For instance, Pinterest released amazing data around their search terms in the middle of the pandemic (February to May 2020), and they saw record searches around mental wellness concepts, with meditation up 44%, gratitude up 60%, and positivity up 42%. Searches around bringing wellness into the home, stress relief, and exercise all saw huge gains. A host of self-care and wellbeing practices suddenly became the coping strategy for more people in the new normal.”

She predicted that solving issues pertaining to mental health and wellness will be the biggest future need and provide the most opportunity.

“There’s so much innovation going on in teletherapy and with digital mental wellness platforms, with more funding flowing into this space in 2020 than for any wellness sector. Digital is going to be a far more affordable and democratising play for the mental health and inner life space, and we will see many revolutionary ideas coming to our devices that shake up how mental health services get delivered.

“Many of the great ideas will come from outside the traditional mental health industry, and entrepreneurs and practitioners will come into the market without ever having had a brick and mortar business. Some of the newly emerging companies I’m working with are creating more relevant mental wellness platforms for Gen Z and the younger generations. We will also see companies many of us are familiar with coming out with new products that make mental health/ wellness more accessible in the next six months.

“It’s interesting and telling that even social media platforms, spurred by the pandemic, are now grabbing the mental wellness wheel. There have been a bunch of synergistic partnerships: Snapchat has launched new tools and content around mental wellness and has partnered with Headspace to deliver meditation and mindfulness. Pinterest has created emotional health resources, pins and content, partnering with the Stanford Lab for Mental Health Innovation.”

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