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How Gen Z and Millennials Are Redefining Wellness

Young people are redefining wellness to be more inclusive of their imperfect lifestyles…


  • To Gen Z and Millennials, anything that makes them feel good is part of their wellness
  • There’s no more rights and wrongs to wellness, as they believe even something “unhealthy” can be good for them
  • Their definition of wellness includes their social lives, and it’s as important as exercise

Gen Z and Millennials have made inclusivity a backbone of their view on the world. That’s why, when it comes to wellness, Gen Z and Millennials are carving out a new definition that’s less strict about which lifestyles are healthy and which are not. YPulse’s What Is Wellness? trend report shows the ways they’re approaching and redefining wellness now, and how their definition of wellness could change the mainstream wellness industry.

This is not the first time young people have redefined wellness, and pushed to change the mainstream wellness industry. Millennials were at the forefront of the trend to include mental health in the definition of wellness, which became a mainstay Gen Z expects. Both generations put their support behind the growth of the body positivity movement that, again, turned the focus of the wellness industry away from narrowly focusing on physical health, especially in the form of restrictive diets. 

But, even after all this change, most young people still think current wellness culture is toxic and harmful. As it is now, they say it focuses too much on perfection, and their definition is not about believing in only one way to actively work on one’s wellness. So, how exactly do they define what it means to be well, and to take care of themselves? These three stats show how Gen Z and Millennials are redefining wellness:

76% of 13-39-year-olds agree wellness can be anything that makes you feel good

The majority of Gen Z and Millennials agree that wellness can be anything that makes you feel good. When YPulse asked 13-39-year-olds what the most important part of wellness is, nearly half said mental health, making it their top response—far above physical health. Their definition of wellness is now centered around listening to their mind and bodies’ needs in the moment, and 90% of young people agree that wellness looks different for everyone.

When looking for ways to work on their wellness, they’re certainly not looking for routines, diets, or products that claim to be “one size fits all.” Really, they want to see content, from brands especially, that doesn’t have anything to do with perfection. And that’s why they look to social media so much for their wellness information—because they’re getting it from other people their age who are redefining wellness in the same way. Now, they’re following wellness trends like affirmations and reading self-growth books, more than the physical appearance-focused wellness trends of years past. 

73% of 13-39-year-olds agree somebody can work out and eat junk food in one day, both for their wellness

When they say wellness is anything that makes them feel good, they really mean anything, and that can mean things traditionally considered unhealthy. In fact, 73% of young people agree that somebody can work out and eat junk food in one day, both for their wellness. YPulse data also shows only 31% of young people say they approach their own wellness by sticking to a strict routine to optimize their health / happiness. Instead, they’re doing whatever feels right for their body and mind in the moment, and not calling it a guilty pleasure, because they don’t feel guilty about it. So, when they feel like it’s time to eat something that makes them happy, even if it’s traditionally considered unhealthy, they do it, which is considered self-care, and thus, a part of wellness.

For Gen Z especially, their relationship with food, and food content online, is partially shaping this view on wellness. YPulse’s recent trend report The End of Foodie Culture (As We Know It) shows that Gen Z are interested in food content that’s realistic, and doesn’t encourage sacrificing the joy of food for the value of its macros. Their preference for this kind of content reinforces their idea that any food can be good for you if it makes you feel good, because that’s what wellness is all about.

77% of 13-39-year-olds agree hanging out with friends is just as important for their wellness as working out

Though older generations might not think of their social life as a part of their overall wellness, Gen Z and Millennials certainly do. In fact, 77% agree hanging out with their friends is just as important for their wellness as working out is. Remember, it’s all about feeling good, and what feels better than spending time with friends?

This growing trend of viewing a social life as part of wellness is even evident through their aesthetics. For the past few years, wellness, especially on social media, has been all about being “that girl”—the one who wears matching sets and has a perfect routine. But now, as they embrace their imperfect lifestyles and more holistic ways to feel good, their post-COVID nightlife is becoming just as popular as the Sunday reset. On TikTok, trends like #NightLuxe have gained name recognition for promoting a lifestyle that is fun and carefree, rather than perfectly maintained at all times. Because of trends like this, they’re embracing the most spontaneous, perhaps even chaotic, parts of their lives, as a part of their wellness that’s as valuable as all the others. 

YPulse paid users can access the full What Is Wellness? report and data here.

Don’t have a YPulse paid account? Find out more here.