Stress from the pandemic raised concerns about mental health in people of all ages, especially teenagers. Now, mindful practices are taking a biological turn as consumers are doing more to feed and pamper their brains.

The stress of lockdowns during the pandemic aged teenage brains up to three years according to a study published in Biological Psychiatry: Global Open Science late last year. Researchers studied the MRIs of 128 teens and children taken before and after the pandemic and found growth in parts of the brain that regulate fear, stress, and executive functioning at a rate much faster than is normal. The changes found are similar to premature aging of brains in children who undergo chronic childhood stress, and often indicates a higher risk of mental illnesses including depression, anxiety, and addiction as well as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

Gen Z has taken matters into their own hands. After pandemic restrictions left kids and teens feeling emotionally stunted, many found new ways to flex their under-used lobes. A new trend on social media that focuses on frontal lobe development has gained popularity amongst teens and younger users. The hashtag #frontallobe had 29.9 million views on TikTok and more than 5,000 posts on Instagram as of mid-January. University of Edinburgh’s head of psychology, Dr. Sarah MacPherson, explained that the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex that teens are focusing on is responsible for “regulating and directing our thinking, emotional and motor activity,” in a quote for Dezeen.

Exercises and supplements for brain health are gaining popularity with younger consumers as a result. The Research and Markets website anticipates a 10% increase in the brain health supplement market from 2022 – 2030.

People speaking in a room together. Centered: a woman with light skin and blond short hair wearing a blue head device. To the right: a man with tan skin and dark long hair wearing a silver head device.
Frenz, courtesy of Twitter.

A brain-wave activation made waves at CES this year for doing more than monitoring sleep. The Frenz brainband monitors brain activity throughout the day to help consumers keep track of and make adjustments to support their brain’s health. The visor-like device uses AI to collect data on the wearer to provide feedback on a person’s levels of concentration, energy, and sleep, as well as their heartrate.

While brain supplements and mental health awareness have become common, a greater social focus on the development and practiced rituals to take care of one’s physical brain are now front-of-mind for gen Z.

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