Self-care isn’t a recent idea and existed for many years, even before Millennials and Gen Z emerged. However, both generations are experiencing a renewed interest in self-care practices. These groups are adopting new ways of self-care, thanks to various catalysts specific to their generations and the changing times.
Because of this movement, these groups are trying anything from intermittent fasting to researching better foods and using wearable technology. This post will explore some popular self-care practices among Millennials and Gen Z and what the future holds.
What is Self-Care?
Ancient Greeks saw self-care as a foundational principle of all moral rationality. A Greek philosopher, Socrates, spoke of self-care as the care of oneself and knowing oneself. According to ancient ethicists, caring for oneself is vital for achieving an ideal state of being.
Today's standards define self-care as any activity that increases physical and mental wellness and self-appreciation to reduce stress. The connection of self-realization is also relevant to the movement. Gracy Obuchowicz, a self-care mentor in Washington, D.C., says that self-care cannot stand alone; we need self-awareness. "Self-care plus self-awareness equals self-love."
While there is less emphasis on how someone can project self-love into the world, those who improve themselves will improve the world. Research suggests a strong association between better mental and physical health and life satisfaction.
The Health-Conscious Attitude of Younger Generations
Gen Z tends to follow their Millennial elders but are more cautious about their diet. Beyond grabbing their attention, brands must establish trust with these skeptical consumers. They are ad-averse and don't follow brands they view as dishonest.
These groups prefer smaller online communities where they can discuss their experiences and share them with others. If a brand establishes its presence on TikTok, Discord, Instagram, or Slack, the younger generations are more likely to engage. The biggest challenge for them is that they’re always on the move.
They prioritize convenient and accessible food choices, like ready-to-eat meals. They also value authenticity and open discussions surrounding mental health. These generations aren’t waiting for someone to give them instructions.
Instead, they're proactive, seeking health resources and solutions aligning with their identities. But how are they finding these resources? These groups scour the internet for information or leverage tech to stay on top of their health.
They want more than just better access to health resources; they expect it. They seek transparency from health systems and employers, not 20th-century institutional guidelines like top-down management rules. Their focus on self-care increased during the pandemic and will continue in the future.
The Catalyst Behind the Push for Self-Care
Many individuals view Boomers as inherently pessimistic because of their negative perspectives. Only 19% believe their standard of living is better than their parents, and 56% think it will get worse in five years. Despite Gen Xers' doom and gloom attitude, Millennials and Gen Z have double the rates of depression and anxiety.
Several factors contribute to this rise, including longer work hours, stagnant wages, burnout, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, Millennials and Gen Z are changing how others discuss mental illness by being more open to sharing and seeking help. Many attribute this openness to the rise of social media and more people sharing their struggles online, destigmatizing mental health.
The Internet also provides access to information for Millennials and Gen Z and helps them identify their mental health condition.
The Role of the Internet in Self-Care
It's worth noting that Millennials invest more in self-care than previous generations. The Pew Research Center says they spend twice as much on diet plans, therapy, and workout routines. They also save 29% more money annually than baby boomers, showing how great a priority self-improvement is to them. What accounts for this stark contrast between generations?
Research shows that support from internet sources increased self-care prioritization in 72% of primary research studies. Access to information empowers them to make better healthcare decisions. Common searches include alternative therapies, self-care strategies, nutrition, and fitness.
Google provides hundreds of resources with easy-to-follow advice for improvement. Millennials and Gen Z use the internet the most and are the biggest contributors to the $10 billion self-care industry. Access to information increases awareness, contributing to decreased mental health stigma and better understanding, says Hyepin Im.
Most Popular Self-Care Practices Among Millennials and Gen Zers
Millennials and Gen Z are investing in their well-being and educating themselves to increase self-awareness and emotional intelligence. What self-care practices do these generations use to fight for access and a better quality of life?
Apps for mental health
Gen Z are the biggest users of apps that target their mental health. Only 1-in-5 of 14,743 respondents in 2023 mentioned using apps like Calm and Headspace, which offer guided meditation practice and educational guides. Some other popular apps are Sanvello and Happify, which have coping tools and progress assessments.
Young adults are adopting pets as an alternative to traditional parenting. Spending time with pets is a form of self-care and can boost well-being. Service and emotional support animals are increasing, helping people with physical and mental health issues.
During the pandemic, pet ownership among 18 to 25-year-olds surged, with 3 in 4 now owning pets.
Health and wellness best practices
If you're a millennial, you have the power to lead a distinctive and satisfying life. However, staying focused on taking care of yourself with all the responsibilities of daily life is challenging. Despite these challenges, taking control of your health and wellness is possible.
These individuals use effective adaptive self-care strategies to improve their health and wellness. These individuals accomplish their goals using three words: exercise, sleep, and supplements. Regular exercise keeps you fit, good sleep keeps you fresh, and supplements nourish your body.
Nourishing their bodies with natural foods and supplements
Health-related products are ubiquitous in modern times. These products are at grocery stores, advertised on social media, and showcased on television. Millennials and Gen Z are used to being inundated with information on the latest trends in wellness, and they know how to make intelligent decisions about their overall health.
They value sustainability, so they prioritize organic produce and local foods that come from trusted sources. However, brands must put their money where their mouth is, as these generations are digitally fluent and will research products.
While Gen X is more conventional with their health, Millennials and Gen Z prioritize taking natural supplements. These savvy generations know that while a balanced diet is vital, it won’t always provide all the nutrients they need. Still, Gen Z and Millennials take supplements for specific needs such as beauty, cognitive function, digestion, and immunity.
They take supplements this way to supplement their diet with multivitamins and get the necessary nutrients they lack. Another reason is to support or boost the immune system, like with immune-boosting gummies. Supplements can also help them achieve personal goals, such as weight loss, muscle building, or improved cognitive function.
However, they understand that supplements alone cannot replace a balanced lifestyle.
Establishing an exercise routine
Millennials are more active than previous generations. They understand the importance of physical activity and make it a part of their daily routine. Both groups maintain a healthy lifestyle and stay fit by going to the gym or practicing yoga at home.
Prioritizing healthy sleep cycles
Millennials and Gen Z understand that good health isn't about what you do when you're awake but how well you sleep. A whopping 94% of millennials prioritize a healthy sleep cycle. After all, quality sleep improves mental health, boosts immunity, and helps with weight management.
If they realize they're struggling to go to sleep, they will take action. To help with insomnia, Millennials and Gen Z practice calming activities, such as reading or taking a warm bath. They also rely on supplements like melatonin gummies to quiet their minds and bodies.
Fewer Millennials and Gen Z have children, so they have more disposable income for skincare, gym memberships, and expensive meals. The top 10 meditation apps garnered roughly $195 million in 2019 alone, 52% more than the previous year. In 2020, skincare outsold makeup products, and CBD sales should reach $20 billion by 2024.
Engaging in self-care is an expression of self-love. As mental health concerns become more prevalent, younger generations prioritize self-care to enhance their well-being. They know the importance of exercise, healthy sleep cycles, and natural supplements in their diet.
Millennials and Gen Zers do pet parenting, self-splurge on wellness products, and rely on apps to aid mental health. It's inspiring to see how their commitment has led to profound changes in the industry. Businesses should take stock of this trend by redefining their product or service offerings around self-care needs.