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Lightbox Loves: Mental Fitness

It’s safe to say that 2020 was a testing year for mental health. After a taxing year, tending to our emotional wellbeing has been crucial, as more and more people are having mental health resolutions parallel to physical fitness ones.

Demand for mental wellness apps has increased during the pandemic, as people strive to find innovative fixes to beat lockdown blues. In 2020, Calm, an app which provides its users with guided meditations, saw a total of 60 million downloads – an increase of 20 million from 2019 (Business of Apps, 2020). Headspace, founded in London and Calm’s biggest competitor, also saw a surge of over 500% in interest from companies last year, as an ever-growing list of industries sought mental health support for their employees (CNBC, 2020). These trends are likely to stick around long after lockdown ends: a Headspace survey found that 53% of workers believe mental health benefits are now essential (Headspace, 2020).

Emily Anhalt, co-founder of Coa – one of the world’s first mental health gyms, which offers meditation classes, mindfulness sessions and therapy – says that we are beginning to think of “emotional fitness [in] the same proactive way we work on our physical fitness." Likewise, Dan Harris, author of 10% Happier, believes that ‘mental fitness’ is an exciting concept because it challenges outdated mindsets that happiness is something that just happens – rather, Harris shows, it is a skill that you train through meditation and mindfulness.

With more people engaging with mental health support, and organisations pushing wellness apps, society may finally be making progress towards dismantling deeply rooted mental health stigmas. Going forward, it is important for us all to recognise that mental health is inextricably connected to physical health – we need to work on both as part of our regular routine, even when we are having a good day.