Let us guess.
You reckon social media is Gen Z’s number one go-to, right (most specifically… TikTok dances)?
Indulging in nihilistic memes, perhaps?
Wrong again (kind of).
Alcohol and drugs?
Big nope. You’ll be pleased to know that drug use came in dead last during our last Gen Z Wellbeing Check, with just 5% of Gen Zs admitting to using drugs to help them destress.
In fact, Gen Zs’ fave ways to relax are so predictable and relatable, that they’ll actually surprise you.
Music was the overwhelming favourite among Gen Zs, with 77% of young people we surveyed telling us music was their go-to way to destress and relax – particularly during (and in the aftermath) of pandemic lockdowns and restrictions.
“Lockdown had definitely been negatively impacting my wellbeing. Primarily, restrictions have made it more difficult to access the gym, which has taken a toll on my physical health. In turn, my mental health and self-esteem were negatively impacted,” an 18-year-old male from Queensland told us.
“This helped me find other methods of comfort rather than exercise… listening to soothing music (is now) one of my “go-to”s for dealing with stress or anxiety.”
Coming in close second, we found 72% of Gen Zs turn to movies, shows and videos to take the edge off a stressful day.
“I think the main tip I have is always, always, always have something to look forward to,” an 18-year-old female from NSW said.
“It can be the smallest of things such as… having my tea, watching Netflix and knitting at the end of the day.”
Sixty-one percent of Gen Zs told us they exercise for stress relief and maintaining general wellbeing, with walking the overwhelming favourite (83%), followed by running (48%), weight training (41%), cycling (23%), swimming (19%) and yoga (17%).
“Consistent exercise, supplemented with a healthy diet and regular sleep (has really helped my stress levels). Since making these changes, not only do I look better, but my mental clarity and energy levels have sky-rocketed,” an 18-year-old male from Queensland said.
“The difference between a point in your life where you have a shitty diet and irregular exercise and a point where you eat well and exercise consistently is massive. Everything from your mental health, physical health and social health will improve.”
Meanwhile, more than half of Gen Zs (54%) told us they liked to shower or take a bath to relax, which studies show activates the vagus nerve and decreases our sympathetic nervous system (known as our fight or flight response) – reducing stress, tension, anger-hostility.
Nailed it, Gen Z.
Believe it or not (we’re looking at you, boomer), Gen Zs actually love going outside.
Almost half (44%) of Gen Zs like to head outdoors – into nature or to the beach – to de-stress and relax.
For a quarter of Gen Zs (24%) bushwalking is their go-to, with 7% saying they feel refreshed after a good surf sesh.
You knew this was coming.
Yup, a pretty significant number of Gen Zs (37%) turn to gaming to destress.
For many, it was what got them through the pandemic – providing an escape from the stress of lockdowns and a sense of community when school closures and social restrictions kept young people physically isolated during a critical time of social development.
Of the 37% of Gen Zs that game to relax males make up that majority, with three out of four young men gaming weekly compared with 43% of females.
The faves? According to YPulse, Gen Zs love Call of Duty, Fortnite, Among Us, Grand Theft Auto and Minecraft.
It might surprise you that 34% of Gen Zs turn to cooking for stress relief (and self-improvement).
And for many, the pandemic was also the catalyst.
“Without the activities of normal life (during lockdown) I had the time to really work on myself,” a 19-year-old female from Victoria said.
“I began to speak to my family and to a therapist about how I was feeling. I began working out regularly and falling in love with exercise. I became vegan and excitedly found recipes to cook for myself each day. Now, a year and a half later, I am a person that I am truly proud of.”
- Social media
Meanwhile, one in three (33%) Gen Zs told us that social media was their fave way to de-stress.
Their most used social networks according to our What Gen Z Actually Do Online report are Instagram (89%), Youtube (76%), Snapchat (75%) and TikTok (60%).
- Playing sport
Coming in ninth, at 32%, was sport.
Soccer was the most popular team sport among the Gen Zs we surveyed (13%), followed by netball and basketball (both at 11%), AFL (6%), athletics (5%) and cricket (4%).
Memes rolled in 10th place, with 29% of Gen Zs turning to the captioned images that elicit (often dark) humour referring to culture and current events to take the edge off a stressful day.
Just like this one.