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3 Reasons Why It's Time To Embrace The 'Soft Life' Trend

Tired of the rat race? Then its antithesis, the 'soft life' trend, might be something for you. Here's why it's gaining traction.

Mark Travers, Ph.D.

By Mark Travers, Ph.D. | July 05, 2024

If you've spent any time on social media, you've likely noticed the rise of "the soft life"—a relaxed, uncomplicated lifestyle that values peace and ease over stress and hustle culture.

The term "soft life" originated within the Nigerian influencer community and has since spread globally, largely through social media platforms. This movement emphasizes comfort, relaxation and the prioritization of personal well-being over relentless productivity and societal expectations.

"I don't know who needs to hear this but that whole strong Black woman narrative, it doesn't apply to me. I live a soft life. I am a dainty princess. I will fall out at the drop of a minor inconvenience," said Brittany, a lifestyle blogger on a TikTok posted in March 2022.

While Brittany comically exaggerates the needs of a soft life enthusiast, there are real benefits it promises. Here are key insights from the soft life movement, should it spark your fancy.

1. Rejecting Hustle Culture

Many individuals, especially millennials, grew up immersed in the ethos of #hustleculture and the "rise and grind" mentality—equating success with relentless hard work. This mentality promotes maximizing productivity even at the cost of physical and mental well-being.

However, the trend of maximizing output and making sacrifices to "earn more money to live more" is falling out of fashion. Increasingly, people are recognizing thatliving their best lifeisn't solely defined by immense material success or societal standards.

According to a recent KeyBank survey, Americans are rejecting hustle culture and moving towards a softlife in the wake of rising cost of living. 72% of respondents prefer to define success through a soft-life lens—emphasizing happiness, contentment and fulfillment. Meanwhile, 54% of people believe that hustle culture—which measures success by wealth, status and achievement—can result in burnout.

The #softlife movement, which has garnered millions of views on TikTok, emphasizes creating healthy boundaries and prioritizing well-being. This lifestyle rejects the notion that success requires compromising on one's well-being and instead promotes a balanced approach to work and life, ensuring that personal health is not sacrificed at the altar of professional achievement.

2. Revitalizing Health With Self-Care

Living a soft life involves prioritizing mental and physical health. This can include regular self-care routines and engaging in activities that bring joy and relaxation. This approach counters the constant pressure to perform and achieve.

According to the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, over one in five U.S. adults (57.8 million) live with a mental illness, with a higher prevalence among females and young adults aged 18-25 years old. This underscores the urgent need to prioritize mental health and develop effective strategies for managing mental well-being.

A systematic review conducted in 2023 identified various self-care essentials that were considered highly relevant by young people struggling with mental health difficulties. You or a struggling loved one could use the following as a checklist to gauge the quality of your mental health status:

  • Self-awareness includes recognizing and understanding one's own mental health needs and emotions. This involves being in tune with one's feelings and thoughts to address mental health challenges effectively.
  • Self-compassion entails showing kindness and understanding towards oneself, especially during difficult times. Self-compassion involves treating oneself with the same care and empathy as one would offer to a friend in need.
  • Monitoring well-being involves keeping track of one's emotional state and overall mental health status. Regularly monitoring well-being allows individuals to identify changes or patterns that may require attention.
  • Maintaining physical health. This includes practices such as exercise, eating nutritious food and getting adequate sleep to promote overall health.
  • Creating supportive social structures. Establishing a network of support from friends, family or professionals can provide emotional assistance and practical help during challenging times.
  • Balancing your day. Striving to find equilibrium in daily routines and responsibilities. Balancing activities involves managing various aspects of life to prevent being overwhelmed.
  • Relaxation. Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or hobbies can help alleviate tension and promote calmness.
  • Personal care. Attending personal hygiene and creating self-care routines not only contribute to your well-being but also an overarching sense of self-respect.
  • Improving life satisfaction. Engaging in activities that enhance your overall life satisfaction can bring you joy, fulfillment and a sense of purpose.

3. Living Intentionally While Creating Boundaries

Soft life is about being intentional with your time and energy. It encourages making conscious decisions that align with your values and bring you peace rather than succumbing to external pressures and expectations.

Living a soft life doesn't mean avoiding responsibilities or being frivolous. Instead, it involves honestly recognizing your limits and committing to what you can manage rather than overcommitting and becoming stressed.

Setting boundaries between work and personal life is a core component of the soft life. When work-life boundaries are blurred, people experience an increase in emotional exhaustion and waning happiness, according to a December 2023 study published in Frontiers of Psychology.

A healthy lifestyle can mitigate these effects, but those with blurred boundaries often struggle to maintain healthy behaviors, deteriorating their emotional well-being further. Setting simple boundaries can look like:

  • Defining work hours. Sticking to a set schedule and avoiding working outside those hours. Communicating availability to colleagues and supervisors.
  • Setting priorities. Focusing on completing the most important tasks first and avoiding overcommitting to projects. Learning to say no when your plate is full.
  • Managing meeting times. Scheduling meetings during productive hours and avoiding unnecessary meetings. Setting clear agendas to keep meetings concise and focused.
  • Communicating clearly. Discussing boundaries with the team and supervisors to ensure they understand and respect your limits.
  • Disconnecting from work. Turning off work-related notifications on the phone or computer after hours to avoid the temptation of checking in.

The soft life trend is more than a fleeting social media phenomenon; it represents a fundamental shift in how people approach their lives and work. It focuses on inner peace, well-being and prioritizing what truly brings joy and fulfillment. For those who often find themselves catching up with their clock or too tired to do anything after work, it might be time to step into their soft life era.

Is your self-care routine serving you well or does it need work? Take the Self-Care Inventory to learn more.

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