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Well, here we are—a couple of months into 2021. A year that we all (still) hope will be much better than the last. This past year was nothing short of a dumpster fire—between the pandemic, ongoing racial injustice, and the most dramatic election ever, 2020 was riddled with anxiety, grief, anger, and was just downright exhausting.
Heck—if somebody even dared to ask me how I was doing last year, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes and say, “Omg I can’t even.” I mean, what other year can you think of that became its own expression? When something would go horribly awry, we would literally blame it on the year by saying, “2020, am I right?” complete with a sheepish chuckle —and eventually some tears when you realized just how many times you’ve said those words. Seriously, I lost count a long time ago. It was not healthy.
Sorry, tangent—where was I? Ah yes, 2021. The good news is there’s still hope that this year won’t make us want to roll into a tiny little ball on the floor and cry. Well, at least not as much as its predecessor—I’m not a miracle worker, you guys. However, I do have some wellness tips to help you stay just a little bit cooler, calmer, and collected-er this year.
If there’s one thing we learned last year, it’s that wellness is always here for us. Maybe at this time last year, your goal of going to Pilates five days a week came to a screeching halt as fitness studios were required to shut down to protect the community. For a time, we were all frazzled because our usual workouts and wellness routines were turned upside practically overnight. I think I speak for us all when I say that our favorite fitness class, and the community that comes with it, plays a huge role in our overall happiness. The good news is the wellness industry has come a long way in just under a year.
While it is true that some areas still aren’t allowing the in-studio experience for their workout classes due to the pandemic, we have more options to practice wellness safely than ever before. Right now, some studios are allowed to operate with in-person, socially distanced classes—and pretty much every studio broke into the virtual space to provide fitness classes you could participate in from the comfort of your own home. Not to mention, at-home virtual options are typically cheaper and allow you to try our studios from all over the country. With online gym memberships like Mindbody Flex, you can have access to thousands of live stream classes at your fingertips for less than $5 per class.
Look, 2020 was scary. After a year like that, it’s can be hard to tap into a positive mindset. But it’s more important now than ever before to let go of assumptions and focus on the good that 2021 can bring. This shift to acceptance will ultimately help you put your best foot forward in any situation that arises.
Take a step back and try to focus on the things we can be grateful for in this moment. Like what? Well, for starters more and more people are receiving the COVID-19 vaccination, which means things are slowly, but surely, getting back to normal. I, for one, am grateful that my at-risk family members have already received their first rounds of vaccinations and are on the path of staying healthy since they are protected from the coronavirus.
The best thing we can do right now for our mental health is to learn to give ourselves some grace through practicing self-care. And this can look different for everyone. Maybe your version of self-care comes in the form of daily journaling, getting a workout session in, curling up with a good book, or having that glass of wine while taking a bubble bath. Whatever makes YOU feel good—keep doing it.
To keep my mental health in check, something that I’ve started incorporating into my daily self-care routine is practicing mindfulness. Some days that means I focus on my breathwork practice—other days I may scroll through the Mindbody app to find a virtual meditation class or Yoga Nidra class. I’ve also embraced the motto there’s an app for that. Right now, I’m really loving the Headway app because it helps me set daily intentions from the moment I wake up with a morning survey and then checks in with me at the end of the day with an evening survey. Having the ability to write down my goals and hold myself accountable for them has really taken my self-care routine to the next level.
Some days we fall a little short of our goals—and guess what? THAT’S OKAY. Honestly, I think we should all just focus on being okay for the rest of the year. The past year caused us to be tough on ourselves and I encourage you to make this year kinder. Any new goals you set that involve changing habits or overhauling your lifestyle will likely have some setbacks. So, when that happens, remember to be compassionate with yourself.
If there’s anything I want you to take away from this blog post is to let go of the illusion that perfection is always the end goal. When in doubt I always remind myself of something my favorite spin instructor (hey Steph!) says: “If you look for perfection, you'll never be content. Just focus on your growth.” Allow that to sink in and make it a goal to remind yourself of this every single day.
And remember: You don’t have to—and really shouldn’t—give up hope that things will get better this year, even if you feel overwhelmed now. Having a positive mindset is never a silly thing. In fact, it is actually quite admirable; you’re an admirable badass.
Welcome to my regular cadence of blog posts where we talk about—you guessed it—stress. This past year, we’ve been talking about it A LOT. If that’s not the understatement of the century, then I don’t know what is. Oh, and ICYMI April was Stress Awareness Month—and even though that month is over that doesn’t mean our “awareness” of the stress in our lives just magically disappears. Ask me how I know. In fact, I was stressed even thinking of a title for this piece. STRESS IS REAL PEOPLE.
With 67% of adults reporting their stress levels have skyrocketed over this past year, odds are you’ve probably been plagued by this unfortunate feeling quite a bit. In fact, it’s been so overwhelmingly apparent that stress plays a big role in most of our day-to-day lives that it was a major component of the 2021 Mindbody Wellness Index. This year, the survey set out to understand who has been affected the most by surveying the 50 most populous cities in the US.
If you see your city on this list, please know that you are not alone and there are many ways to combat stress—like chilling out in a yoga class, venting in your journal, and leaning on your bestie for advice. Heck—we even have a guide to help you learn how to keep your chill.
So, without further ado, here are the most stressed-out cities in the US according to our Mindbody Wellness Index.
I hate to break it to you, Oaklanders—but you topped our list as the most-stressed city in the US. But you all aren’t just succumbing to pressure—you also said you’re making a solid effort to get your health and wellness back on track. Out of all the cities on this list, you had the highest number of people who used meditation as a stress reducer during the pandemic (30%).
Now that we’re starting to get back to some form of normalcy, might I suggest taking a stroll around your neighborhood and appreciating the sizable gnome population as an instant mood-booster?
Coming in at number two is Minneapolis. Unfortunately, 61% of you reported feeling an abundance of stress during the pandemic. However, like Oakland, you’re also making some serious strides to decrease your stress by leaning into your fitness routines. How are you doing this? By focusing on weight and strength training, partaking in cardio, and practicing yoga.
Minneapolis—if you’re ever feeling stressed, just remember that your city is home to one of the greatest musicians of all time—Prince. So go ahead and “Party Like it’s 1999” whenever you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed.
Next up is Oklahoma City. While you experience a great deal of stress, you’re also making some serious moves to increase happiness and wellness with 63% of you exercising once a week or more. However, you also had the smallest percentage of folks putting more focus on health and wellness throughout the past year.
Here’s a fun fact that may just put a smile on your face—Oklahoma City recently adopted the nickname “The Big Friendly.”
El Paso does sit pretty high up on this list in the number four spot. Y’all may want to pay special attention to catching some z’s each night since you had the highest percentage of folks lacking in the sleep department—which is a major contributor to stress. On top of that, you also said you feel the least connected to their community among the 50 cities surveyed.
There’s nothing that a giant dose of Vitamin D can’t fix (at least that’s what my doctor says)—so get outside and enjoy the 302 days of sunshine that your city has to offer!
Ahhh the City of Angels. According to our survey, you came in as the fifth most-stressed city. But in true LA fashion you are using healthy coping mechanisms to regain a peaceful state of mind—almost 80% of you exercise once a week or more. Also, literally like none of you smoke which can also help you find balance.
There are a lot of fun facts about your city, but I decided to hit with a funny fact instead. Did you know that Charlie Sheen once bought 2,615 outfield seats at Angels Stadium so he could catch a home run ball? And guess what—he walked out empty-handed.
Unlike LA, Tulsa has the most smokers out of all the cities on this list. You also don’t make exercise a top priority with your city ranking third to last in exercising consistently and second to last in getting a good night’s sleep.
Mmmbop...sorry for getting that song stuck in your head for the rest of the day—but we have your city to thank for the Hanson brothers. Also, does anybody else think they are the Russian Dolls on this season of The Masked Singer, or is that just me?
To say your city has been through a lot over the years would be an understatement. This year, we also learned you were in the bottom ten for having close relationships with family and friends—which isn’t surprising given the fact that we were all forced to shelter-in-place for the majority of the year. Hopefully, as fitness studios and wellness businesses start to welcome more and more people back, the stress you are all experiencing will quickly dissipate.
With vaccines becoming more available to the general public, happy hours are a thing again! Get together with some of your friends and (responsibly) enjoy some iconic drinks your city has to offer.
Though your city made this list for experiencing high stress, you also topped the list for several wellness practices. In fact, 86% of you say you get a good workout sesh in once a week or more. On top of that, you were quick to take advantage of virtual fitness classes, with 75% of you saying you regularly work out from home. You are also the number one city to receive massages, partake in strength training group classes, aerobics, and dance fitness classes.
I think we can all agree that any demonstration of girl power is something to be happy about. Did you know that your city is the only major US city to be founded by a woman? It’s true—Miami officially became a city in 1896 after local businesswoman Julia Tuttle encouraged one railroad mogul to expand into the area.
Seventy-one percent of you turned to health and wellness when the pandemic made our daily routines come to a screeching halt. You stepped up by taking advantage of health and life coaching the most out of any other city and you also came in second for using meditation to de-stress during the pandemic.
Hi—it’s me again here to hit you with not one but TWO funny facts about Atlanta. Did you know that it was once illegal to put an ice cream cone in your back pocket? Oh, and it’s also illegal to tie a giraffe to a telephone pole. Umm what.
Denver—you may have made this list, but you’re straight up flexing to help combat stress. In fact, you top the list when it comes to incorporating weight and strength training into your workout routines. On top of that, 20% of you are also tapping into a blissful state of mind by practicing yoga regularly.
As Matthew McConaughey once cleverly said, the "man who invented the hamburger was smart," but the "man who invented the cheeseburger was a genius." Well, Denver, that genius just happens to be from your city. Louis Ballast began selling them in 1935 at the Humpty Dumpty Drive-In.
If your city made this list, don’t...stress? There are a number of classes available to you on the Mindbody app that are designed to help you keep calm and carry on. Or, if you want to take your at-home routine to the next level, you can get your daily dose of virtual chill pills by booking classes through Mindbody Flex.