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The Top 21 Mental Wellness Activities Among Millennials & Gen Z

Interest in maintaining and improving mental health is growing among young consumers—so what are they doing to find balance? We asked 13-34-year-olds to tell us their top mental wellness activities to find out…

In our most recent Ypulse Quarterly report, we delved into the topic of mental health with the trend In Their Heads. Lately, we’ve seen a heightened awareness of and interest in everyday mental health among young consumers, who are finding new ways of maintaining their balance. In fact, over eight in ten 13-34-year-olds tell us they’ve noticed that people are making mental health more of a priority lately. From charting their emotions and learning about mindfulness to marrying tech with meditation and finding unusual stress escapes online, activities focused on mental wellness and mood boosts have been growing in popularity.

There’s no denying the current state of the world is perpetually stressful. Young consumers aren’t the only ones feeling it, but they are bringing their unique problem solving/escapism approaches to counteract the impacts. Our trend research found that about half of 13-34-year-olds currently do activities to improve/maintain their mental health, and over a quarter say that they don’t currently but plan to. Females were more likely than males to say they are actively making mental wellness activities a part of their lives, and Millennials are more likely than Gen Z to do so—not too surprising considering the added stresses of trying to adult. So, what are the mood boosting and mental health activities that young consumers are participating in? We asked the 46% of 13-34-year-olds who told us they’re doing something for their mental wellness, “What activities do you do to maintain or improve your mental health?”* Here are their top 21 responses:

*This was an open-end response question to allow us to capture the full range of mental wellness activities that Millennials and Gen Z are engaging in—without our preconceived ideas shaping their responses. As with any qualitative question, the responses include those that are top of mind and those that are most popular. The list is ordered according to number of responses received, and alphabetically when ties occurred.

What Activities Do They Do To Maintain Or Improve Their Mental Health?


  1. Exercise
  2. Yoga
  3. Meditation
  4. Counseling / Therapy
  5. Reading
  6. Be with Friends / Family
  7. Journaling / Writing
  8. Music
  9. Prayer
  10. Relaxing
  11. Play Games
  12. Talking
  13. Walking
  14. Being Alone
  15. Medication
  16. Be outside
  17. Eat well
  18. Running
  19. Sports
  20. Puzzles / Brain Training
  21. Art / Crafts

Exercise is the number one activity that Millennials and Gen Z participate in for their mental health, followed by yoga, and meditation. This supports other Ypulse studies that have found that young consumers are turning to fitness for far more than weight loss. Physical wellness is tied to mental wellness for many. While 94% of 13-34-year-olds agree taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health, the two are also linked in their minds.

Meditation’s number three ranking supports the rising popularly of the practice among Millennials—who of course are putting their own tech spin on it. Apps like Headspace, Calm, Pacifica, Mindfulness, and Buddhify are becoming mobile aids for young consumers looking to make the calming effects of meditation and mindfulness a part of their everyday. Almost 20% of 21-29-year-olds say they have tried an app like this, and Headspace, which invites users to “learn to meditate in just 10 minutes a day,” is the top platform that those who have used a mindfulness/meditation app say they’ve tried.

We’ve already mentioned that females are more likely than males, and Millennials more likely than Gen Z to engage in a mental health activity, but among young consumers participating in each group, there are differences as well:

While exercise is the top activity among both males and females, males who are engaging in mental health activities are more likely than females to say that playing games is one of them, and females are more likely to say they go to counseling/therapy. Interestingly, Gen Z is more likely than Millennials to participate in counseling/therapy, potentially because of the resources they find at school, the assistance they are able to receive from their parents, and the heightened awareness around teens’ mental wellness overall these days.

To download the PDF version of this insight article, click here