November 26, 2020
Peace of Mind
Unsurprisingly, the themes of mental health, self-care and well-being have become increasingly important in 2020.* As we’ve grappled with a global pandemic, social isolation, economic uncertainty, climate anxiety, and political drama, wellness has become a key concern as we figure out how to take care of ourselves and one another. For so long, we’ve focused on outward displays of personal success and physical wellness as primary signifiers of general well-being without taking a deeper and more honest look at the full emotional and psychological spectrum of human experience. And as the world slides back into lock-down, it’s time to look at what this means and how we’ll cope.
Additionally, 2020 has forced us to stop and recognize the ecosystem between personal and collective well-being. This past year, we’ve seen the popular cultural mood shift significantly—from one focused on individual social and material gains, to one of sobriety and a reckoning with collective and personal responsibility.
In this climate, the “wellness industry” continues to boom, but beyond spas, skincare, and yoga, what does self-care look like? Well-being—of which wellness is a facet—has far greater reach and significance. It’s not something that’s skin-deep; it’s structural. It’s about our lifestyle choices and values. It’s about finding fulfillment and peace within ourselves and in our relationships and actions.
Advertisers are waking up to this change. We are no longer citizens last and consumers first. And consuming isn’t the cure for all of our social and psychological problems. We’ve all been so distracted with the pursuit of happiness that we’ve forgotten how to actually be there. In order to build and support a better world, we have to begin to better know ourselves.
It’s time to explore:
- Themes of self-awareness, self-regard, self-care, self-acceptance
- Reflection, thoughtfulness, consciousness
- Therapeutic practices and products to mitigate and work through personal challenges
- Digital and virtual tools for understanding and managing moods and stresses
- Healthy relationships with digital connectivity and social media
- Understanding our personal chemistry and the environmental forces that impact us
- Letting go, accepting and loving our imperfections
- Finding happiness closer to home and in the little things
- Exploring the functions of well-being: inspiration, creativity, productivity, purpose and drive
*In 2020, searches for mental health gained 436% over the previous year, and self-care increased by 33%. Meanwhile, searches for yoga and spa declined by 21% and 35%, respectively.
It’s no news that life can be hard. Struggle, in its various forms, is an ingredient in all our lives. The world is a confusing and complex place. As a culture, we have a habit of denying this by focusing on oversimplified and gratuitously positive messages. And while clients aren’t necessarily all looking for representations of hardship, they are hungry for more depth and dimension to the emotional range we provide in the collection (think of themes such as stress, loneliness, isolation, depression, anxiety, emotion, feeling overwhelmed, challenged). Please be mindful of the uses and repercussions of use on your models’ life when tackling sensitive issues. Make sure everybody is informed and accepts the possible uses before you tag your assets with mental and/or any other health issues.
“Happiness” can often be treated as a general state of being as opposed to a variety of positive feelings and influences. To give more context and variety to our expressions of happiness it’s useful to break down the different feelings that contribute to a sense of well-being.
- Fulfilled, Contented
- Relaxed, Comfortable
Well-being and Creativity
The relationship between creativity and mental health has always been closely linked. Not only does creative activity support neural health and dopamine production in the brain, but by processing visual and sensory data, it allows the brain to wander, think up new ideas, and enter into flow states. In these states of heightened consciousness we feel inspired, engaged, focused, and reflective. We are most empowered to innovate and create when we are absorbed in solving creative problems. We also find the clarity and intention we seek in other forms of wellness practices like meditation and yoga.
Increasingly, creativity is not just thought of as the exclusive domain of “artists,” but something we all have access to and can incorporate into our daily lives. In a recent study of Gen Z creatives, VSCO found that 96% of the respondents recognized that creativity is important to their mental health and 87% agreed that expressing themselves creatively has a positive effect and helps them to destress.
There are many other forms of creative exploration than typical artistic tropes. For example, an Adobe/Harris survey found that cooking is the second-highest ranked activity that inspires creativity among all generations and 62% of Gen Z’s said it makes them feel more inspired. Explore less commonly depicted forms of creative expression.
- Collecting and Curating Objects
- Zen Practices, such as Painting, Calligraphy, Poetry, Gardening, Flower Arrangement, Tea Ceremonies
- Vlogging, Blogging
- Composing Music, Playing Music
- Photography, Videography
- Cooking, Baking, and Culinary Arts
- Writing, Journaling
- Jewelry and Apparel Design
- Printmaking, Collage
- Outdoor Projects (Construction, Murals, Garden Design)
- Floral Arrangement
- Zines, Bookmaking
- Site-specific Installations
- Knitting, Embroidery
- Adult Coloring Books
- Puzzles, Board Games
*Please be mindful of the need for property releases for original works of art.
The Alternative Route
Global demand for integrative therapy and traditional medicine is predicted to increase exponentially in the next few years as more and more people in the developed world seek natural healing alternatives and integrative therapies over conventional pharmaceutical medicines. The global complementary and alternative medicine market size is projected to reach USD 296.3 billion by 2027, according to a new report by Grand View Research, Inc.
- Essential Oils
Mind and Body Healing
- Energy Healing
- Magnetic Resonance Therapy, Bio-magnetic Therapy
As much as mental health is a product of our brain, well-being is a product of everything around us and what we do with our bodies.
- Physical activity and fitness
- Getting outside and appreciating the outdoors
- Forest bathing, desert bathing
- Coming together outdoors
- Taking time to be with oneself, enjoying alone time
- Healthy sleep patterns
- Healthy nutrition habits
- Giving, philanthropy, doing things in the service of others
- Nesting, making home a sanctuary
Sharing our thoughts is a healthy, therapeutic coping mechanism that can protect against anxiety, depression, and feelings of isolation. Whether participating in counselling sessions, or simply having a conversation with a friend, talking is an important part of connecting and feeling heard. Behavioral Therapy Market-size is forecast to reach $187.4 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 8.4% during the forecast period 2020-2025.
- Open and honest conversations with friends, partners, family
- Meaningful interaction with loved ones
- Connecting through communication (written or spoken)’
- Professional counseling services and professions: Psychology, Psychiatry
- Support groups
- Online counseling services and sessions
For many of us, the workplace (or rather, the place in your home where you now work remotely) and workload is a significant source of stress. Overwork is becoming less applauded. There are some signs that countries, companies, and individuals are making an effort to rein this in. Tech companies like Microsoft and some countries, such as New Zealand and Russia, are pushing for a 4-day workweek. The pandemic has created a moment for businesses to take stock and consider more radical reconstructions of the workplace, allowing for better work-life balance, improved employee satisfaction, retention, and mental health.
- The wellness sabbatical
- Exercise in workplaces – group walking meeting, stretching, yoga
- Nutrition in workplaces – healthy canteen options or eating healthy foods together outside
- Attention to workplace ergonomics
- Flexibility of workplaces – sharing job roles, working from home, parenting while working
- Engagement – excited about work/teamwork
- Performance – being healthier improves our work performance
- Connect and Collaborate – effective workplace relationships
Mental Wellness and Technology: Rethinking the Relationship
Technological advancement has pushed digital therapeutics to the forefront of convenience. It’s in people’s pockets, on their laptops, and even within Facebook Messenger. And with that, the category expands to include a suite of wellness products and services. It’s a new ecosystem that sees individuals relying on a wide range of tools like chatbots, apps, and digital support groups to combat modern-day issues such as burnout, loneliness, and anxiety. Combined with traditional medical models, it encompasses a holistic approach to psychological wellbeing. The behavioral health software market is projected to reach $2.31 billion by 2022, growing 14.8 percent annually, according to a MarketsandMarkets research report.
- Sleep, mood, nutrition, and activity monitoring apps
- Personalized health, nutrition and wellness subscriptions and packages
- Virtual therapy and counseling
- Staying connected over zoom, face-time, video-calls
For better or worse, 2020 has shown that our personal well-being is part of an ecosystem. Our personal health, happiness, and livelihood is intimately connected to others and our communities.
- Healthy families
- Community wellness, volunteering, people helping one another
- Cultivating a wellness culture
- Mental health awareness and de-stigmatization – mental health awareness campaigns, including mental health awareness week and month
- Judgment “detox” – acceptance and generosity over cancel-culture
Image Credits: Silvia Gil Roldan; Jules Emile; Eva Zar; Jonathan Schechener; Ricky Rhodes; Hideaki Hamada; Ryan Pfluger (left, right); Maya Fuhr; Mary Kang; Eriver Hijano; Aron Filkey; Julia Stoz; Robert Harding; ImageSource/Adobe; MinWoo Hyun; Unknown Photographer; Lea Wormsbach; SnowPeak; Peter Beavis; Ryan Pfluger; Modern Therapy; Sashaa Rutyunova; Yojo; Outsite; Care/of; Airbnb; Getty Images; Veronica G Cardenas; Merlin Muellis; Makay Deeleyman