Retailers are uniquely positioned to offer consumers one-stop shopping for the well-being and mindfulness solutions and tools they seek.
Many consumers today are keenly interested in relieving stress and achieving mental well-being and mindfulness through lifestyle measures like diet, as well as meditation and physical practices like yoga and tai chi.
The concepts are complex, but briefly, mental well-being is feeling happy and contented with life, and that life has meaning. Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment with acceptance and without judgement to decrease stress and anxiety and improve mental health.
Retailers are uniquely positioned to offer consumers one-stop shopping for the solutions and tools they seek.
[Read more: "Kicking Bad Food Habits"]
Shoppers Believe in the Food-Mood Connection
Early research suggests that certain eating patterns, foods and food components (e.g., the Mediterranean diet, leafy greens, nuts, omega-3 fatty acids and many more) are linked to mental well-being by helping to reduce anxiety and depression, and to promote brain health. But most Americans are already convinced about a two-way connection between what they eat and how they feel.
Three-quarters of Americans (74%) believe that the food and beverages they consume significantly or moderately impact their overall mental and emotional well-being, according to the 2023 Food and Health Survey from the International Food Information Council (IFIC). Conversely, about six in 10 (61%) also believe that their overall mental and emotional well-being significantly or moderately impact their food and beverages choices.
Another six in 10 (60%) Americans report being very or somewhat stressed over the past six months, with half (51%) of them saying that their stress level negatively impacts the healthfulness of their food and beverage choices.
Retail dietitians can inform shoppers about relationships between food and mood, and provide practical, science-based advice. A few examples are managing caffeine consumption to soothe anxiety and promote healthy sleep, eating to avoid energy-sapping blood sugar swings, and choosing foods to relieve stress-related digestive problems.
Some shoppers look to vitamins, herbs, supplements and foods with special ingredients to boost mood and relieve anxiety, depression and insomnia. Retail dietitians and pharmacists can advise shoppers on the safety and effectiveness of these products, potential interactions with medications, and risks when used by those with certain health conditions.
Mindfulness at Retail
The surging popularity of mindfulness-based practices like meditation, yoga and tai chi (a gentle form of martial arts) gives retailers an opportunity to offer classes and how-to information online, on-site, at community events or in partnership with a nearby fitness center.
Some retailers have taken a broader approach. In 2021, Whole Foods Market and the meditation app Headspace offered tools to help promote shoppers’ overall well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic. Tools included a social media-based recipe series called Food for Mood; meditations focused on mindful shopping, cooking and eating; and a one-month free trial of the Headspace Plus app.
Further, workplace programs that address stress management and mindfulness benefit employees and help retailers attract and retain good workers — eight in 10 (81%) said that they’ll look for workplaces that support mental health in the future, according to the 2022 Work and Well-being Survey by the American Psychological Association.
Walmart and Sam’s Club support their associates’ mental wellness through free counseling sessions, training for leaders to help struggling associates, proactive outreach from mental health professionals, and support through web- and app-based tools via videos, articles, exercises and meditations.