The Anxiety Economy

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Americans seek stress relief through self-care

By Rieva Lesonsky

Are you stressed? I am. And we’re not alone. America is the 7th most stressed country on Earth—in a Gallup poll, 55% of us answered “yes” to the question, “Did you experience a lot of stress yesterday?” A survey last May from the American Psychiatric Association showed the “national anxiety score” in the U.S. had jumped five points in one year; Millennials were the most anxious.

“In the quest to achieve ultimate happiness, Americans are embarking on exhausting, expensive self-help seminars, meditation retreats, workplace wellness programs, and endless positive self-talk, JWT Intelligence  (JWTI) reports. Yet all the self-care we’re investing in doesn’t seem to be making a difference, JWTI says. “Despite all of these safeguards, [Americans] are more anxious than ever before” and still facing “an endless list of stressors, from financial insecurity to job instability to political upheaval.”

Instability and disruption are “having a profound impact on culture and emerging trends,” according to JWTI’s trend report on the Anxiety Economy (cost: $1,500). “Behavior driven by fear, from the extreme (and the paranoid) to the more justified, is creating new market opportunities as consumers seek ways to self-soothe and navigate the storm,” JWTI reports.

Highlights of the report:

  • Stress in the workplace: The Global Wellness Institute says workplace wellness is a $48 billion industry poised for growth. JWTI reports, “Startups are addressing the uptick in work anxiety with innovative products, while firms are investing in programs designed to improve their employees’ mental and physical health.”
  • Stress in the bedroom: Our sex lives are also being impacted by our anxiety. According to JWTI, millennials report having less sex.
  • Stress in the boardroom: Consumers increasingly expect accountability and transparency from businesses of all sizes. The key to getting around consumer distrust is to “establish more intimate connections with [your] target audiences…The trend is even apparent in the influencer world, where nano-influencers—those with just a few thousand followers, but stronger and more personal ties to their fans—are on the rise.”
  • Beauty and stress: All this anxiety is transforming the “concept of beauty,” JWTI reports, as makeup artists and fashion designers embrace dystopian themes. “From Instagram to the catwalk, a wave of young makeup artists [is] channeling the grotesque… and luxury fashion designers are joining them…transforming their models into otherworldly, dark creatures.”

In an increasingly anxious world, businesses that acknowledge and help soothe customers’ anxiety will be met with open arms.

Stress stock photo by Tero Vesalainen/Shutterstock

The post The Anxiety Economy appeared first on SmallBizDaily.

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