April 9, 2021
April is Stress Awareness Month, and given the unprecedented events of 2020, we could all use a bit of self-care and relaxation. There’s no getting around it – the past year has been stressful. A recent survey by American Psychological Association (APA) revealed that Americans were profoundly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly one in five adults (19%) reported their mental health has worsened over the last year.
These elevated stress levels can have a detrimental impact on physical health, with participants in the APA surveyed citing disrupted sleep patterns, eating more unhealthy foods than usual or weight changes as a consequence of the pandemic. This is unsurprising, given how the pandemic has disrupted work, education, health care, the economy, and relationships. These are some of the publicly traded companies people turn to for self-care and stress relief.
With in-person therapy options limited last year, digital therapy flourished. BetterHelp, the largest online counseling and therapy services provider, experienced a sharp increase in downloads for its app, growing from 50,000 per month in January 2020 to 80,000 by April 2020. A subsidiary of Teladoc Health, Inc. (Tii:TDOC), BetterHelp connects its users with licensed, trained, experienced, and accredited psychologists, marriage and family therapists, clinical social workers, and board licensed professional counselors. The rise in telehealth usage has boosted Teladoc’s top line, with fiscal 2020 revenues increasing 98% from the prior year.
In addition to helping prevent and improve a number of health problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes and arthritis, the Mayo Clinic reported that research on depression, anxiety and exercise shows that the psychological and physical benefits of exercise can also help improve mood and reduce anxiety. Not only does exercise release feel-good endorphins, but it also takes one’s mind off the negative thoughts that lead to depression and anxiety. With more consumers working out from home than ever, athleisure brand Lululemon Athletica Inc. (Tii:LULU) has risen to meet that need with increased ship-from-store capabilities, as well as adding yoga, meditation and dance classes to its website. Shares of Lululemon have gained some 52% for the trailing 12 months.
Research has shown that reading fiction is more effective at reducing stress than listening to music, sipping tea, and taking a walk. A 2009 study at the University of Sussex found that reading can reduce stress by up to 68% by lowering heart rate and easing muscle tension. Purveyors of fiction (and non-fiction) such as Scholastic Corporation (Tii:SCHL), John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (Tii:JW.A), and Pearson plc (Tii:PSO), the parent company of Random House, are sure to have page-turners aplenty to help consumers unwind.
Taking some time to relax in the bath with a scented candle is a common way to ease the day’s stress. This is where companies like Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (Tii:BBBY) come in. With consumers shifting to digital purchases at an even greater rate, Bed Bath & Beyond invested $250 million to modernize its operations. These upgrades include improving the company’s enterprise resource planning, expanding its utilization of cloud-based solutions, and selecting a technology solutions provider to modernize and drive efficiencies in the retailer’s inventory management systems that support its store network and distribution centers.
We each relax in our own way, but everyone needs to take some time out for themself on occasion. However you relax and take care of yourself, there is likely a company ready to provide the products and services to help you reach your Zen.
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