Social impact

Self-care and Gen Z: How are young people protecting their mental health in 2024?

Written by
Izzy Hall
Published on
February 6, 2024
Last updated
May 9, 2024

What this article covers

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In 60 seconds...

  • With 72% of Gen Z agreeing that mental health is important to them, thousands are heading to social media for self-care tips and tricks
  • Creating hobbies and spending time with loved ones are among the most popular forms of self-care for this generation
  • Brands need to take the time to understand how Gen Z are feeling in order to seamlessly blend into their feeds and, ultimately, benefit their lives

Gen Zers have a lot on their plate in 2024. From worrying about the state of the world to navigating the ups and downs of early adulthood, it’s no surprise that *57% of UK Gen Zers want to improve their mental health.

But how is this generation taking steps to improve their health, and what are the self-care tips taking over the internet?

In this blog post, we'll be asking how Gen Z is really feeling, exploring how they're practicing self-care, and sharing how brands can support them on their emotional and physical journeys.

How is Gen Z feeling?

31%* of Gen Zers strongly agree with the notion that they're a worrier, whilst 34% somewhat agree the idea that they're neurotic. And, with the weight of the world on their shoulders, it’s unsurprising that thousands of them are taking to social media to vent their frustrations, stress, and worries. It's basically just one big 'time out'.

And they're not feeling too positive about what’s to come, either: 52%* are concerned about their mental health when thinking about the future. But, Gen Zers are more aware than previous generations of how important protecting their health is, with 72% agreeing that mental health is important to them.

And it's not all bad news: Pion research revealed that 46%* of Gen Z are happy with the way they look, with 35% remaining neutral on the subject. Social media, of course, plays a significant part in this - after all, with AI filters and stylized morning routines now commonplace online, young people are being bombarded with information dictating how they should be feeling and what they should be doing. In our 2023 Youth Trends Report, 57% of Gen Zers from the UK and 45% from the US said TikTok has a detrimental effect on their wellbeing.

But TikTok is an odd one; there are corners of the app that promote productivity to a toxic extreme (more on this later), but it's also a place for users to be vulnerable, fight back, and take things slow. Essentially, self-care is a dichotomy.

Protecting their peace and pursuing creativity: Self-care 101

Research by Pion revealed that pursuing creative hobbies, spending time with loved ones, and catching up on sleep are amongst the most popular forms of practicing self-care. Protecting one's 'peace' is also a popular idea amongst this generation - essentially safeguarding their spiritual, mental and emotional health. For some, this means being open and honest, for others, this means letting go of grudges - *17% of Gen Z strongly agreed with the statement 'I tell someone the truth, even if it hurts their feelings'.

How does Gen Z practice self-care?

Whether it's getting enough sleep or creating the perfect morning routine, there are a surprising number of self-care tips and tricks available to Gen Z online. But what are the trends really engaging Gen Z, what are the potential negative side effects and how can brands get involved?

Boosting productive and wellness girlies

It's no secret that Gen Zers use social media for inspiration, and with daily vlogs on the rise on TikTok, the social app is overrun with ideas for how to boost productivity as a means to practicing self care. Currently, #productivity has 1.2M posts on TikTok - from morning routine guidance to 'study with me' content, it's implied that boosted productivity and organization will lessen stress and protect mental health.

For brands in the wellness space, the morning routine/productivity trend provides several opportunities. Take, for example, this creator's collaboration with supplements brand Nature's Sunshine. From the chilled aesthetics to the creator's focus on nutrition and physical health, it's an add (and discount!) that seamlessly blends into viewers' feeds.

@blake.swanson My basic non-negotioable morning habits to get back into a routine this year with @Nature’s Sunshine 🌞🥬🧘🏼‍♀️ I love that Nature’s Sunshine is offering 4 different wellness regimens for your 2024 New Year goals! Try my personal regimen, More Nourished, for 35% off with the link on my page #morningroutine #morningperson #morningmotivation #NaturesSunshinePartner #MadeForMore ♬ original sound - Blake Swanson

But sometimes, this is taken too far. The 'that girl' trend encourages people to live their 'best' life - one that involves green juices, athleisure, pilates, and constant improvement. As revealed in our 2023 Youth Trends Report, 57% of UK Gen Zers and 47% from the US have viewed 'that girl' content.

This is where we begin to see the dark side of self-care: for those respondents who viewed 'that girl' content, wellness trends were more likely to have made them feel like they weren't achieving enough in their day-to-day lives. When productivity creates more stress than it alleviates, it becomes a counterproductive form of self-care.

This is certainly one to be wary of.

Embracing slow living  

Much like overconsumption, there's overproductivity, and it's giving some Gen Zers the ick. Staying afloat amidst political turmoil, studying and factoring in a ten-step morning routine is beginning to have a detrimental effect on some young people, and as a result, they're choosing to embrace 'slow living' instead.

'Slow living' is the practice of quite literally slowing down, taking the time to look around and appreciate a balanced life. For some, this means embracing nights in and crafting. For others, this is taking the time to recharge, read and savor the present. Ultimately, it's a self-care practice that protects mental and physical health by not forcing expectations on oneself.

Reflection and gaining confidence is a significant part of slow living, and this TikTok partnership proves that this trend is one any brand can take part in. Creator Niamh, who is known for her wholesome, alternative content, partnered with deodorant brand Mitchum, factoring the product into her 2023 review/2024 look forward video. The main message? Feeling your best (thanks to Mitchum's deodorant) equals confidence.

@niamhmackinnon #AD Top tips on becoming more self-confident with Mitchum Natural Power Deodorant in the New Year @mitchumuk #powerupnaturally #naturalpower #CapCut ♬ Stories 2 - Danilo Stankovic

How brands can support Gen Z's self-care journey

For Gen Z, self-care is a big part of their daily life. For brands, it's important to fit into this seamlessly, not only to maximize engagement, but also to avoid over-commercialization - after all, the self-care industry is growing at an exponential rate, and you don't want to be seen as taking advantage of these young, and potentially vulnerable, adults.

Much like Gen Z's relationship with mental health, it's about finding balance and working alongside them to make a positive and genuine difference to their lives.

Want more like this? Get in touch now to learn more about Pion’s insights offering.

*Data gathered from Pion Gen Z Pulse, 1,000 Gen Zers in the UK, October 2023

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