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The Wellness Generation

In what can only be described as pure Instagram bait, fitness enthusiasts have upped the ante on their workouts by adding live animals to the mix. Forget about downward dog, in 2016, a farmer and a yoga instructor in Oregon USA got together to create a yoga workout with a different animal in mind: baby goats.

Goat yoga is exactly what it sounds like: throwing goats into your yoga class. Combining the workout with the immediate satisfaction of hanging out with animals is attracting hundreds of people to give this form of yoga a try. And it doesn’t hurt to have popular actor, Sophie Turner of Game of Thrones fame, to describe goat yoga as possibly the best experience of her life. For the millennial generation, this is just another way to bring together two of its favourite obsessions, social media and animals.

Having been dubbed as the ‘wellness generation’ by Stanford Health, millennials are increasingly spending more on their health and wellness.

With the exception of family, millennials value health the most. In a recent study, 79 percent said family was important in their lives, followed by health and wellness at 53 percent, friends at 39 percent, spirituality at 31 percent and career at 27 percent. They value experiences, and invest more in lifestyle choices than in material goods. And with that, they are finding newer ways to practice health and wellness, even if it costs more. Pricy gym memberships have fast become a status symbol among rich millennials. But gyms and studios aren’t the only points of focus; Gen Y is also gravitating towards wellness experiences like spa retreats, goat yoga, and even beer yoga. If it’s a novelty experience that can bring them social media points, millennials will do it.

However, the modern youth are also a little removed from reality; they aren’t as healthy as they’d like to think. All the happy gym posts and selfies on social media are only half the story. Money is still a significant source of stress for most, even if they are moving away from ownership of material goods, and for the rest, work is a significant stressor. Millennials report depression in higher numbers than other generations in the workforce.

A survey conducted by Cigna TTK Health Insurance Company has revealed that 95% of Indian millennials, in the age group 18-34, are stressed, as compared to the global average of 86%. This suggests that work is the main trigger for stress amongst Indians. Work-related stress has become an inescapable part of routine in the corporate world today. With increased awareness about stress and its effect on health, millennials are resorting to out-of-the-box coping mechanisms.

One such stress-buster is going on a destructive rampage, though not quite so literally. For this, there are rage rooms, anger rooms or smash rooms—names may vary, but the basic idea remains the same. These rooms provide overworked or stressed patrons a safe place to vent their anger and frustration. Outfitted in safety gear, people can smash baseball bats through TV screens or hurl crockery at the walls, all for a small price. It is being advertised as a therapeutic exercise for stress relief. This is basically a grownup and acceptable way of throwing a tantrum.

Another example of a service rising to meet the demands of a relief-seeking audience are nap cafes. Taking a leaf from Japan’s work culture, where sleeping on the job is seen as a sign of hard work, metropolitan cities are welcoming nap cafes, where overworked and burnt-out visitors can come for a quick, comfortable rest. In Seoul, these cafes, aptly named as healing cafes, even specialize in services like massages to provide physical relaxation, along with providing mental respite. In Japan, falling asleep at work, on the commute or in any other public space, is so widespread and common that they even have a word for it—Inemuri, which means “present while sleeping.”

Despite being more stressed than other generations, the core work population today—millennials, are showing more awareness of their stress and are actively looking to manage the same with their optimism and heavy influence on consumer behaviour. They are helping usher in less harmful, stress-relieving habits for existing peacefully. Prioritizing self-care is, in fact, one of the ways through which millennials are standing out from previous generations. By focusing more on health and fitness, taking care of their mental wellbeing, and treating themselves to new experiences, they are challenging the status quo of the work-life balance.

This might have resulted in their being branded as ‘snowflakes’ by the older generation, but the truth lies in the fact that millennials prioritizing self-care only bodes well for the future. They will likely pass on these values to their children, resulting in greater acceptance of each other’s idiosyncrasies.

Focusing on Literature and Lifestyle of the Urban Youth of the Country, LitGleam is a monthly magazine, an intrinsic part of BlueRose Publishers.

Within its pages, our readers find provocative essays on literature and lifestyle, guidance for getting published and pursuing writing careers, in-depth profiles of poets, fiction writers, and writers of creative nonfiction, and conversations among fellow professionals.