The hustle culture. The nine-to-five. The daily grind. Whatever you call it, we’ve been conditioned to work, work, work, work, work (cue RiRi). It’s no wonder quiet quitting took off and made headlines. Another viral TikTok trend is taking it a step further by renouncing the stress and hamster wheel of the traditional job. Coined the “soft life,” the term refers to a lifestyle that embraces rest and ease, a notion that has gotten lost in today’s toxic productivity shuffle. So is living the soft life all that it’s cracked up to be? Read on to learn the ins and outs of the soft life’s MO and how to adapt it to your own life.
What’s the soft life?
Originating in the Nigerian influencer community, the term “soft life” or “soft era” describes living a life of enjoyment and comfort, while limiting stress. With 378.1 million views and counting on TikTok, there’s no shortage of content depicting the stress-free #softlife, popularized namely by Black women creators and influencers who are putting themselves first–and for good reason–in response to the hustle and “girlboss” culture of the 2010s. According to the Transparent Black Girl page, soft living is about Black women no longer accepting strength and work ethic as their sole identities.
While some paint an extravagant picture of the viral trend with glimpses of fine dining, upscale vacations, and luxury everything (cars, clothes, workouts), others pass over the consumerism of it and focus on self-care (think: writing down affirmations, delegating tasks, setting firm boundaries). In other words, living the soft life is subjective, and anyone can experience it. The purpose of the soft life is to reject struggle, stress, and anxiety that comes with the rat race, and instead prioritize joy and experience.
It’s not about scaling back on your career efforts like quiet quitting–it’s about prioritizing your joy first, which can mean quitting a toxic job or leaning into the aspects of your job you genuinely love. It’s not anti-work; it just means setting boundaries where you need (work, relationships, housework, etc.) so you feel less stress and more joy in your life overall. Soft living can look opulent, but at its core, it’s a mindset cultivating balance, self-awareness, intentionality, and joy.
soft life living only
How do I live the soft life?
If the soft life movement blew up on TikTok, there’s got to be some truth behind or benefit to it, right? Much like self-care and wellness overall, no matter what the soft life means to an influencer or how it’s portrayed, you do you—do what brings you joy and what works for your mental, physical, and emotional health. Ahead, hacks to embrace the soft life in your own way.
Make time for rest
PSA: Rest is productive. The laundry, work emails, and grocery shopping can wait. There will always be something demanding your attention or to check off your to-do list, but your mind and body aren’t built to run on empty. When you take the time to unplug, be still, and relax, not only will it pay off for your mental health, but also your creativity, productivity, and mood. To ensure you fit in your R&R, schedule your breaks and treat them as mandatory appointments, just as you would a health check-up or work meeting.
A key component of leaning into the soft lifestyle is taking stress out of the equation (I know, that seems impossible). Because, as we can all attest, the “fight-or-flight” reaction of stress wreaks havoc on our well-being, often leading to migraines, digestive issues, and anxiety. We all handle stress differently, so it may take experimenting with different techniques to reduce it. Some tried-and-true methods? Therapy, meditation, breathwork, walking, and getting optimal sleep.
Whether we’re talking work, relationships, or sex, setting boundaries is a non-negotiable for maintaining balance in your life and caring for your mental health. First things first: learn to get comfortable saying “no.” If you’re a people-pleaser (same) and the word doesn’t exist in your vocabulary, remember that by always saying “yes,” you’re also turning your back on things that are important to you—be it time off or respect. Instead, honor your needs and wants by being upfront and clearly communicating what is and what isn’t OK in your book, especially in regards to how you want to be treated. The result? You’ll create trust, foster healthy connections, and be more appreciated.
Sure, having a routine takes the guesswork out of your day-to-day, but when you’re running on autopilot, how much are you focusing on the present moment? The first step in practicing intentional living is clearly identifying your values and what the best, higher, happiest version of yourself and your life embodies. Then, actively work towards them.
One misconception of soft living is that you have to be swimming in money to enjoy life fully. Rather, it’s about being deliberate in how you spend your hard-earned cash and time (time is money after all). What experiences are important to you and make you feel good? Hone in on and go after those.
Don’t be afraid to enlist help
The common theme of the soft life manifested in yachts and skincare routines seen on TikTok alike? There’s no “hustle hard” narrative. That’s partly because the soft life way of life includes allowing yourself to be vulnerable and asking for and accepting help when you need it. Whether you have too much on your plate at home or you can’t keep up with work deadlines, we all have breaking points. And seeking help isn’t a sign of weakness, but rather an opportunity to build relationships and learn new skills from others. It’s an all-around win-win.