Whether it’s politics, climate change, pollution or just a side effect of increasingly time-compressed and hectic modern lifestyles, consumers told us in our recent Health + Wellness 2019 From Moderation to Mindfulness report that when it comes to health and wellness concerns, anxiety was now, for the first time in decades of our research, ahead of weight management as an issue to manage. This seemed like rather major news to us, especially given the fact that our collective waistlines do not seem to have gotten smaller and headlines about obesity have not necessarily gone away. 

And yet, news on the anxiety front definitely caught the eye of major brands like toymaker Lego, which per the Washington Post "... is zeroing in on a growing demographic: stressed-out adults. The 87-year-old Danish company increasingly bills its brightly colored bricks as a way to drown out the noise of the day and perhaps achieve a measure of mindfulness. The company’s newest kits ... are being targeted to adults who want to occupy their hands but keep their minds loosely engaged."

Hmmm. And it seemed not long ago that adult coloring books were the answer to our current era of anxiety. On the wellness and self-treatment side of things, meditation and mindfulness as antidotes to modern stress are also on the rise (they are now central to wellness practices, as underscored by our Health + Wellness 2019 report title), as is experimentation with cannabinoid-related products with CBD. As cited in our Health + Wellness 2019 report, CBD products appeal especially to younger consumers because they're looking for ways to relax, de-stress and get to sleep — and not necessarily get high. Gen Z and Millennials are interested in both natural remedies like these as well as functional foods and beverages as solutions to everyday physical and mental issues.

Other natural ingredients on the rise taken to treat anxiety include kava, consumed as a beverage or extract made from roots of Piper methysticum, a plant native to the western Pacific Islands. As noted in a U.S. News & World Report article: "With its long history as a relaxing remedy and ceremonial drink in the Pacific Islands, kava is enjoying new-found fame in the U.S. among people seeking a natural alternative to antianxiety medication. Some people are even calling kava the new CBD. No wonder kava is suddenly in demand. For the first time, anxiety (63%) has replaced being overweight (61%) as America's top health concern, according to the market research firm the Hartman Group. In our "age of anxiety," the idea of a natural approach to ease anxiety and stress is a big draw."

Whether relaxing with Legos, practicing meditation or experimenting with ingredients like CBD and kava, coping with stress and anxiety has become both culturally destigmatized and personally necessary on a broad scale for many consumers today. Our Health and Wellness 2019 report finds that managing mental and emotional well-being will be a key motivator for consumers in the health and wellness market of the future. The external circumstances that contribute to the current importance of anxiety and stress are not going anywhere, and as Gen Z — already more attuned to their own mental wellness than older consumers — come of age, they will continue to seek strategies for maintaining mental health in an uncertain and anxious world.