Rather than following the rules, or doing things in a way dictated by others, taking care of yourself for youth today starts with a ‘you do you’ mindset. For example, instead of following a strict Veganuary, there is a growing openness to flexitarianism, finding your own flexible way to reduce your intake of higher carbon-impact foods without completely restricting yourself or your cravings. With 65% of young people wanting a more ‘plant-forward diet’, without going all in on it, it’s about doing what suits you when it suits you.

“Here’s to a year of eating and drinking whatever we want, moving our bodies if/when they need it, sleeping, laughing, being kind to ourselves and having a great ole time.” Eleanor, 30, Fizzy Milk

It can also be doing you by choosing to reject it all, in response to a growing wellness industry that can come with big costs and big promises. ‘Wellness’ trends can be controversial at times - and youth aren’t afraid to critique or reject them. Dr Tom Curran, Assistant Professor at LSE and chartered social psychologist, points out how the societal and financial pressures of being your best self at all times can have a huge effect on young people’s own mental wellness: “When you put pressure on people to better themselves and don't talk about the things around them that they can't control, that leads to a lot of self-blame and a lot of self-criticism.” Wellness parody accounts, like this one, create and share content that fits with the digital aesthetics, posting shareable graphics with seemingly empowering quotes with a more spicy tone.


A big part of 2023 wellness will be a renewed focus on connecting with others - prioritising socialising and surrounding yourself with friends and a community that supports you. As a result of the pandemic and continued lockdowns, Gen Z missed out a few years of their young adult lives. They’re often described as the loneliest generation ever - research from Eden Project Communities revealed that 19% of 16-24 year olds often or always feel lonely, three times more than 65 - 74 year olds. The importance of friendship is on people’s minds - according to BBH Global, the fastest-growing “how to make” search in the UK in 2022 was “how to make friends as an adult”.

People with strong friendships tend to have better mental health and studies suggest they’re in better physical health, as well. Researchers have found large social networks lower our risk of premature death more than exercise or dieting alone.Teddy Amenabar, Washington Post

Surrounding yourself with people who understand your perspective and create a safe space continues to be called out as a core need, and brands and initiatives have started to respond to this in new ways - especially through the lens of community building, such as Manstalks which helps young straight men who are struggling to make closer friendships. Chloe Pierre, author of Take Care and entrepreneur, who has led the conversation of wellness as a community, highlights the positive impact of connection within the BIPOC community, to create a sense of belonging. “The sense of community and belonging is something that we search endlessly for in life, and that bond that we feel with kinfolk is a large piece of that puzzle for many.”


I do regret starting to vape; I never even smoked but like everyone else got enticed by those little colourful sticks, and what started as a joke is now a not-unproblematic addiction to vaping.” Sadie 27 via VICE

Quitting a habit is one of the most common examples of wellness and increasingly young people are trying to quit one vice. According to Dazed, the number of young people aged 18 to 24 vaping in the UK has risen to 11%, but 60% of them want to quit within the year, (not surprising given that a quarter of University Students claim to be addicted to one particular brand of vape). Alfie, one 20 year old student, is trying to quit after getting used to the ease of a disposable vape in a variety of social settings. “Unlike smoking, you can vape in your house which makes it more sociable for pres or just chilling with your mates.” There’s also a growing environmental activist response to vape litter, as recognition between personal and planetary health becomes mainstream and vapes become more widely reported for their impact on the planet. Some young activists are reporting and tracking how many vapes they find on their walks to highlight the amount that is tossed away with detrimental environmental effects.


I feel like colour is what gives me confidence.” Naomi Shimada, Model & Writer, via VOGUE

Dopamine dressing is the art of getting dressed to improve your mood. It’s about going all in on colour, creating vibrant wardrobes, collections and outfits that add joy to your everyday life. The latest season of Emily in Paris has the cast styled for full on joy, all in on maximalism. The trend has been growing on TikTok with over 53.9 million views. Following on from a lot of doom and gloom, young people’s creativity can shine through their sartorial choices with an added benefit. A study from 2014 shared that dressing a certain way can also be a mood booster. Dr Karen Pine says that “clothing doesn’t just influence others, it reflects and influences the wearer’s mood too… This demonstrates the psychological power of clothing and how the right choices could influence a person’s happiness.” Designer Kid Super, named as one of Hypebeast’s 100 Most Accomplished Creatives, is leading the way with bright and colourful collections that bring a smile to the wearer and anyone looking at it.


The world of youth wellness is ever expanding and evolving. For 2023, we’re seeing the prioritisation of wellness through the lens of fun and joy - a leaning away from toxic culture and leaning into individually-curated ways of feeling more positively connected to self and others. Brands can choose to lean into these trends in ways that support youth’s desire for more colourful and joyful alternatives, and also in ways that spark community connection. Key to all of these trends is experimentation - bring this philosophy to your plans for the near and far future.

For more insight into how youth attitudes and behaviour will shape the year ahead, sign up for the launch of this year's edition of ‘Youth Culture Uncovered’, where we ask “what’s it like to be young today?" (in Ireland) on January 25th at THINKHOUSE - reach out to your Client Service contact for more information.