Over the last several years, this wellness culture has emerged as a powerful alternative to the productivity-obsessed culture that our society has grown accustomed to. In a society that is more focused on monetary success and external pleasures than wellness, most of us are used to functioning on autopilot.
But under circumstances that force us to stay at home, the focus is collectively turning inward for many. Stress levels high due to lost income, anxiety about the future, and being cooped up with our own thoughts and feelings. During such a psychologically and/or physically trying time, stress relief is rising to the top of people’s priorities. In fact, many people have expressed that this quarantine has forcibly carved out the space they need for rest and self-care that they otherwise would not have pursued.
With the economy currently shut down in the wake of COVID-19, wellness and self-care look different in many ways. With chiropractors, spas, and wellness centers closed down for the duration of the pandemic, wellness practitioners are making adjustments. They’re creating safe virtual spaces where their clients can meditate, do yoga, and connect with them. Fitness centers are also going virtual; all one has to do is scroll through Instagram or Facebook to see the recent emergence of online fitness classes.
Why is Wellness Thriving Online?
It’s a fair question, and we figured it might run through your mind while reading this article. Virtual wellness experiences are challenging for creators because the senses can be difficult to engage in a common manner online. People who go for regular massages or chiropractor’s adjustments are missing out on the physical and emotional benefits of calming physical touch. Unless they have a variety of essential oils on hand at home, they’re also missing out on the moo and wellness-enhancing benefits of aromatherapy. Yet livestream classes are so popular that many practitioners have reported being as busy- and earning as much income- as they were prior to COVID-19!
How do we explain this? Well, it turns out that livestream classes are serving a most “essential” purpose: keeping isolated people calm and connected through a self-care routine. Wellness practitioners are helping us create a tolerable “new normal” that carries us through; they are teaming up with their communities to create immune-boosting positive feelings of calmness, interconnectedness, and, yes, productivity.
Virtual classes also remove several stress factors that can deter people from taking wellness classes on a regular basis. Although many of us are working from home, our time is freed up in new ways, and many classes are offered several times per day or week. The hassle of squeezing self-care into a jam-packed routine has been reduced for most of us. With virtual classes, we don’t have to worry about travel time and costs, which can be deal breakers under normal circumstances.
Of course, virtual business models in the wellness industry are hardly new. One of the most notable successes has been Elizabeth Rider, whose website was named a Top Health Coach Blog by The Psychology of Eating. Her 7-figure business, which is based on nutrition advice and healthy recipes, was started on an iPhone and is entirely virtual. And that was before COVID-19!
It’s not hard to understand why the need for mental health professionals to be accessible at this time. Some of us have unfortunately become sick or lost loved ones or associates to this devastating illness. We are all living in fear of it to a degree, but some of us were already struggling with anxiety and mental health issues that have worsened under the current circumstances. People all over the world face fears of what the future will look like, and many of us are dealing with income loss or potential income loss. Small businesses are scrambling to transition to virtual business models for the time being, and not everyone is able to do so. Even those who have adapted to stay open during the pandemic may be losing a substantial amount of income and face delays in future developments. If we wanted to go over all of the reasons why high-quality mental health care is essential right now, we would be here all day.
Fortunately, mental health professionals all over the world have heard this need, and are responding virtually. If you’re in the San Francisco area, you might have heard of Ginger, a SF-based startup that uses video and messages to connect people with hundreds of therapists, psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals. If you haven’t heard of Ginger, you soon might- or at least you’ll hear about other mental health businesses that are booming during the pandemic. In February and March alone, the number of mental health workers using Ginger increased by 50%.
The focus on wellness is further supported by a recent Eventbrite statistic: since the pandemic began, approximately 25% of events on their website have been wellness-related. Further evidence that wellness culture is thriving: All around the world, employers are creating virtual wellness programs that are meant to enhance the well-being of their employees. These programs also work to keep employees satisfied and productive during this crisis, which decreases employee turnover. The importance of treating one’s network of employees like a community rather than simply workers has never been more apparent.
Here are some wellness program ideas to nurture your employees and thank them for their services during the pandemic:
1. Share a Virtual Snack!
This one is simple. Everyone needs healthy fuel to get through the pandemic, so send a weekly treat to your employees- but make it healthy and tasty. If possible, send enough for them to share the snack with their families.
2. Share a Recipe (Again, Virtually)
We weren’t ready to leave food behind quite yet. Are you in the food or health and wellness industry? You don’t have to be to share a beloved recipe- but if you are, creating your own “master chef class” can motivate employees and stimulate their creativity in the kitchen. If the program is a success, consider opening it up to the community so your customers can give it a try. They’ll remember you by the time you treated them to something special during a world pandemic.
3. Dance (or Exercise) Your Stress Away
Most of us have witnessed the “dance party” craze on social media. Groups of friends and co-workers everywhere are getting together virtually to hold dance parties from their living rooms. Better (or worse) yet, these sessions can be recorded to share and look back on as a fond memory. Oh, and exercising boosts the immune system, enhances healthy circulation, and aids in stress relief.
4. Turn “Hump Day” into Wellness-Loving Wednesday
Designating time for self-care is just as important for employees who work from home as it is for those who don’t. What better time to dedicate to self-care than the middle of the week? You can do something as simple as a Wednesday meditation, open chat, or two-hour break they can use to do as they please. These efforts may seem small, but they’re big. They let employees know they are valued and supported. And giving them a chance to regroup in the middle of the week helps them destress from earlier tasks and refuel for future ones.
These are just a couple of ideas- a simple Google search will yield thousands more. But the long and short of it is this: There has never been a better time to implement wellness programs.
What Does the Virtual Future Look Like?
In the general sense, this question has been asked all over the world in the last several years. We answer it in more depth and data-supported detail in many of our previous articles, but now it’s taking on new meaning. With so many businesses switching to virtual models, many people are wondering if this boosted trend will continue to rise in unprecedented ways after COVID-19. The short answer is: We think so.
It’s difficult to imagine it being otherwise: During this pandemic, we have come to look at technology in new ways. Generally speaking, businesses look to technology to enhance their business models and marketing strategies. We’re still doing that, of course. But many of us are also experiencing the ways in which technology can connect us with others and contribute to wellness and stress relief. It has been forecasted that m
Perhaps nowhere is the emergence of virtual meetings more apparent than on Zoom, the conferencing app that has become the world’s unofficial network for, well, everything. Zoom was a fast-growing success before the pandemic, but now it’s a household name- and, for many, a household essential. Work-related meetings and conferences can be held with relative ease from the comfort of home, and at short notice. All we need to start or attend a meeting is a link, meeting number, and simple password. Once joining a meeting, attendees can view each other on the screen and type messages as well. Zoom is currently making all kinds of meetings, classes, and social meetups possible, making us feel together even while we’re apart.
In December, Zoom saw about 10 million daily users. Now that number has rocketed to 200 million! And of course, Zoom isn’t the only app seeing dramatic increases in traffic. Face Time, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex, and other conferencing platforms have been blowing up as well.
It’s important to remember that all of this traffic is not work-related. People are using the app to hold virtual social gatherings and celebrate special events such as holidays and birthdays that would have been otherwise spent alone. Sentimental family reunions and visits are populating social media pages all over the world. Virtual meetups such as those offered by Zoom are the reason many grandparents, aunts, and uncles are able to see babies born during the pandemic. People are going to school and taking college courses. They’re getting therapy and attending AA meetings. They’re engaging with networks that offer emotional support or help people get access to food and essential services. Many are even dating virtually instead of meeting up in person. All of this social support contributes to overall wellness, and many people will remember that as our lives transition back to normal.
Danna Korn, the co-founder of Sonic Boom Wellness, stresses that businesses should incorporate wellness programs into their daily strategy and overall culture. In other words, wellness programs don’t have to stop at wellness. They can be used to boost other business areas such as customer service, sales, employee recognition, workplace safety, and more. It’s not hard for us laypeople to understand that people perform better when they’re treated holistically (i.e., like human beings) and their wellness is prioritized by employers.
All of that said, old habits are hard to break, especially as the economy slowly begins to open. But as much as we miss going out, an ironic concern has resounded across social media platforms worldwide. Many everyday people, influencers, and even celebrities have expressed worry that their lives will go back to normal. This is not to undervalue the impending ability to see our loved ones in person, return to work, and do the things we love outside the home. But it does suggest that many people are thinking about how to incorporate self-care and wellness behaviors, including classes, into their former lifestyles.