Here’s how to embrace a stress-free ‘soft life’

The soft life is when you slow down and take care of yourself first (Photo: Getty Images)

As much as we like to imagine January as a month of opportunity, when a shiny and new version of ourselves is finally within reach, it’s not always a fair reflection of reality.

January can be difficult. It’s cold, it’s dark, and suddenly, after the hazy numbness of Christmas, you’re thrown back into real life.

However, if your 2023 has started off with a bang and you’re already on the cusp of burnout, switching to the “soft life” can help you regain your mental well-being.

It’s all about embracing happiness, but it’s not always easy, and the concept of a soft life has proven controversial due to issues of privilege and fairness.

Here’s everything you need to know.

What is soft life?

A soft life is a life that is “comfortable and low stress,” says Hannah Campbell, co-founder and managing director of One Twelve agency.

This is a life where we “slow down the pace of daily life and take a more relaxed approach to prioritizing health and reclaiming our minds.”

The phrase was first coined in Nigeria and then popularized by black women online, not unlike how phrases like “woke up” and “queen” originated from AAVE (African American Colloquial English) and then spread in the main conversation.

It’s so popular right now, according to a Samsung survey, that over 80% of Britons want to try the soft life.

Gen Z is particularly fond of the “soft life” trend, as they are “increasingly cynical about the performance ideal that turns them into top performers with little room for personal fulfillment,” says Alex Kicho, Head of Cultural Intelligence at Canvas8.

In a world where exhaustion seems to be the norm, the desire for a softer life sounds dreamy. Prioritizing yourself, setting boundaries, slowing down… these phrases are nothing new in the world of wellness.

But the difference with the soft life is how TikTok has packaged it in an inspiring aesthetic – and that’s not always a good thing.

Scrolling through TikTok, you will quickly realize that the image of a soft life is first and foremost about aesthetics.

Supporters — mostly influencers and entrepreneurs — people who can afford to take a break and slow down — are sharing videos relaxing in designer homewear and indulging in the latest beauty treatments.

Therein lies the tension: while the soft life is a supposed rejection of the “lace set” and “boss woman” rhetoric that has dominated in recent years, it can still fall into class traps.

A comfortable full-time life is an unrealistic goal for the vast majority of us, so touting it as an easy path to happiness (along with tying happiness to shopping) leads to failure.

Alex says Canvas8 sees more people spending beyond their means to live the lifestyle they want during the economic downturn: 68% of Gen Zers buy now, pay later, users in the UK have accumulated debt across multiple platforms.

The trend also has an element of gender traditionalism, which complements the gloomy image of a soft life.

Alex says, “A lot of the material on soft living emphasizes softness as a particularly feminine energy or trait.

“Some subsets of soft living include a curiosity about being economically dependent on men, which draws backlash from people who see it as anti-feminist.”

TikTokker Elicia Gauguin suggests that the soft life is about stepping into the “female” role of “recipient” and seizing the opportunity to be a housewife – whose popularity we’ve seen return among Generation Z with “Stay Home Girlfriend.” trend.

Rethinking the soft life in a healthier way

According to Hanna, it is wrong to present a soft life as a need for wealth – whether it be one’s own bank account or that of a partner. She argues that the soft life is a state of mind; desire for peace, joy and self-care.

She says, “It may seem [all about luxury] as the loudest voices on social media tend to be those of the rich and famous, distorting the perception of the term.

“Admittedly, it’s easier to live a quiet life when money isn’t an issue), but the term can be applied to any member of society.”

Hanna believes that Gen Zers use the philosophy of soft living to prioritize what excites them and enjoy their accomplishments, “instead of constantly trying to chase more wealth or mindlessly increasing their bank accounts to climb higher on the list. the rich.”

“For everyone else, I believe that a soft life is not a way to cope with exhaustion. This is a categorical rejection of the culture of fuss,” she says.

“Generation Z finds its own way of life and has enough opportunities to cope with it. Just look at how they challenged the old norms in the workplace regarding presentism, dress code and formality, which had a positive impact on everyone.”

Hannah Campbell believes soft living doesn’t have to be about luxury (Photo: Credit)

It certainly resonates with 28-year-old video editor Shadia Oseni.

She tells “When I was in my early 20s, I spent so much time working hard and not playing enough and it made me sad and stressed.

“I realized that something needs to change in order for me to be happy. At the age of 25, I decided to go on my first solo trip, and that’s when I realized that this is what I love to do. It allowed me to meet new people and experience new cultures, an experience truly unparalleled.”

Now Shadia plans to travel three to four times a year, using cheap flights to Europe.

“Whenever I feel burned out at work, my first thought is to look for cheap flights,” she says. “I no longer feel guilty about taking my annual leave because I deserve it and I want a quieter life. There is more to life than work.”

How to channel the soft life into your daily routine

To live a quieter life, it is not necessary to fly by plane. There are ways to incorporate the soft life into your daily routine, no matter what TikTokkers thinks you should be doing.

Whether it’s lighting a candle in the bedroom to calm down and read a book, or listening to music on a long walk, simple things can help us feel calmer.

Limit yourself when it comes to negative self-talk and carve out guilt-free time every day to do the things you love.

Depending on your circumstances, you can also use the soft life by setting boundaries at work and with loved ones. If you often feel like you’re being taken for granted, fighting back can radically change your outlook and prevent burnout.

Trainer Tom Trotter has been leading a soft life for some time now.

He tells “My favorite hacks are watching what I eat and making sure I’m on a healthy, nutrient-dense diet that fuels and energizes me.”

“Also, incorporating movement into my daily routine, even if it’s just a long walk, is very important.

“It’s also important to enjoy the process and never take yourself too seriously. I like being in the zone and the music helps me get there. Truly immersing yourself in this moment is the key.”

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