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What is TikTok’s ‘soft life era’ and could it be the secret to happiness?

Social media users are leaning towards a less stressful and more enriched lifestyle. Abi Jackson finds out more.


(Alamy/PA)

The term ‘soft life’ is trending on TikTok, with the #softlifeera tag clocking 12.2million views.


While not brand new, it seems a growing number of social media users are leaning towards the lifestyle concept – but what does soft life actually mean and how can it benefit people?


Where does the trend come from?


As the wording suggests, soft life is all about veering away from stress and struggle and embracing a more easy and enriched life. But this isn’t just about life looking ‘perfect’ on social media.


“Soft life isn’t new, however I’m really grateful to see its resurgence,” said Chlöe Pierre, founder of wellness platform thy.self and author of Take Care: The Black Women’s Guide To Wellness. “Essentially to me, especially as a black woman, soft life is about making choices that can avoid me having to live a much longer, and unsustainable, life in hardship. For me it’s about wellness in general, and sustainable wellness.


“My only concern when seeing trends [on social media] is that they are inclusive, and generally they aren’t. First and foremost, soft life is a choice – and it’s a privilege to be able to make that choice,” Pierre added.


“Originally, the soft life kind of movement had origins in places like Nigeria and other places around the continent, but was popularised via America and a lot of African American women, [who were often] fictional characters on TV. Because there weren’t, especially not in the UK, reachable or visible representations of black women and women of colour that had amassed a wealth, and therefore the privilege of living a ‘soft life’.”


Permission to live a soft life


The soft life trend is having a moment (Alamy/PA)

For Dr Evelyn Okpanachi, author of The Emotionally Empowered Woman, it makes sense people are increasingly leaning towards the trend.


“Collectively, we are still tired. We have had the Covid era, austerity and more, and we simply want to live and breathe a little. This is why we are leaning towards it more right now. Collectively, we are breathing a sigh of relief,” said Okpanachi.


“Most people associate the soft life with booking last-minute flights, mojitos on the beach, dining at nice restaurants and all of the externalities. It is in part, but it a lot deeper than that.


“Soft life is living life on your terms. Creating a career you want, the business you want, and looking after yourself holistically. This starts with empowering yourself to succeed by elevating your mindset and knowing you deserve to live a soft life.”


Nothing comes easy


Okpanachi noted the work that can be involved, however. “In order to enter the soft life era, the average person tends to go through an element of stress. Nothing comes easy,” she explained.


Evelyn Okpanachi says it’s important to acknowledge the work involved (Handout/PA)

“It is essentially about purposely creating a lifestyle with minimal stress and setting boundaries – boundary setting is key. It’s embracing the things that serve you and letting go/eliminating the things that don’t. We all deserve to live a soft life, and we all should. But we have to put the work in to attain it.”


This is something social media can often miss out. As Pierre noted, influencers or celebrities may “show you one side of their life – you don’t get to see the struggle they have had to get to that point, or to maintain that lifestyle they have in front of the camera”.


Making space for a softer life


For many, the dilemma is making these things a reality when work takes up so much energy, along with caring/parenting duties, health challenges and everything else.


Pierre discusses in her book about how our identities can be “very wrapped up” in work, which can make it so much more draining – especially for black women who have faced “more hardship in the workplace, compared to other demographics”.


Setting “clear expectations and intentions” for yourself can be helpful, she added, and getting to know yourself better. “So making clear expectations about who I am, what I will accept, and what I want – and having the belief that I don’t have to go through too much hardship, that it’s not a benchmark for who I am,” Pierre explained. “This can even be applied to dating.”


Ditch the guilt


Donna Noble, yoga teacher and author of Teaching Body Positive Yoga: A Guide To Inclusivity, Language And Props, also believes making things intentional is key for how people can embrace the soft life in their everyday routines.


“[People] can prioritise their me-time and be intentional about it – for instance, meditating, journaling or doing yoga as soon as they get up (before the rest of the world invades their space), as this will set you up nicely for the rest of the day,” said Noble.


“I believe rest and self-care are part of our birth-right – no feeling guilty for just being and not doing. Normalise taking the pause, and that it can be the most powerful thing we do in our day.”


Donna Noble is all about intentional self-care (Cecelia Cristolovean-Csiky/Handout/PA)

For those who struggle to put themselves first, Noble suggested taking time to work on giving yourself permission.


“The key here is a shift in perspective and empowerment – you’ve got to discover the precious gem that is your wellbeing. Society’s old scripts may try to hold us back, but rewriting the narrative is where the magic happens,” she said.


“Giving ourselves a permission slip to prioritise self-care isn’t just a luxury; it’s a necessity. It’s about understanding that nurturing ourselves isn’t selfish; it’s the foundation for health and wellbeing.”

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