We think our parents may have had a tougher life; in fact every generation tends to believe that their peer group endured the hardest times. While of course personal circumstances vary, statistics show that the millennials may be the most stressed group in history. According to the American Psychological Association, 12% of millennials have an officially diagnosed anxiety disorder So much so, that the trend has a name- Millennial Anxiety Disorder!
Due to many choices, obsession with staying connected to the world, addiction to an ambitious future, recurrent career changes, and a tight job market- the millennials are one of the most anxiety-ridden generations .We constantly toggle between screens, compulsively social media, multi-task and then cancel commitments because we are so exhausted. Even our day-to-day behaviors can create anxiety. Here are some common habits that cause stress and compromise our potential.
The need of having it all
There is an increase in screen dependence and overthinking. The majority of adults grew up alongside a plethora of technological advances and social media. Girls have grown up with aspirations to have it all: the toned body; being smart; making a lot of money; being positive and happy. A virtual glossy version of life was sold to them and, as a result, many are plagued by perfectionism, excessive expectations, a harsh inner criticism and an obsessive need to achieve.
Poor sleeping habits
A well-rested mind finds it hard to feel anxious. However, most millennials suffer from insufficient hours of shut-eye and poor quality of sleep. They do not have a set routine to hit the bed and sleep. They suffer from millennial Anxiety Disorder because they log into the social networks and check their emails before sleeping. This leads to intense brain activity and disturbs the body’s circadian rhythm.
Most of us kickstart our day with coffee or some form of caffeine drink. Many are addicted to these and find it hard to function without dunking their bodies with many mugs of coffee or tea. Caffeine is a stimulant, and too much of it leads to the body being in a perpetual state of ‘fight or flight’ and it tends to increase anxiety in the body.
A 2014 study by Baylor University found that students spend an average of nine hours a day on their phone. Of course, technology vastly improves our lives in innumerable ways. But too much of it makes us anxious. Screen-based entertainment increases central nervous system arousal, which can amplify anxiety. Social media is similarly associated with low moods and depression.
Instead, next time you’re waiting or have nothing to do, leave your phone in your pocket or purse. Relinquish it as a means of alleviating boredom and instead use it consciously as needed for its useful functions.
A reduced stress free lifestyle
Most millennials do not eat on time; they skip on sleep and are stingy with their exercise schedule. They do not meditate and find time to relax only during vacations. Taking out just ten minutes a day for mediating and exercising regularly will create a more holistic pattern of life that will help reduce the millennial anxiety disorder.
Most millennials suffer from some kind of obsessive behavior. It could be compulsive shopping, binge drinking, and excessive eating which give them a ‘high’ because of the release of endorphins. To experience this ‘high’ again and again, the millennials indulge in obsessive behavior which leads to millennial anxiety issues later on.
Most millennials get into binge drinking for the sake of drinking. This kind of drinking is considered harmful as it is a means of coping with negative feelings. Those who are prone to anxiety do not know how to combat negative emotions.
Eating consistently regulates not only our metabolism and insulin levels but also our mental stability. Waiting too long to eat or missing out on breakfast may lead to unsteady blood sugar levels, which can cause anxiety-like sensations, including shakiness, dizziness, and confusion. Dehydration has a similar effect. Because food and water are biological needs, anxiety naturally follows hunger and thirst.
Instead, eat meals regularly. Keep granola bars or nuts at your desk or in your purse. Bring a water bottle to work and sip it throughout the day. Have a glass of water right when you wake up and before you go to sleep.
A sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of developing millennial anxiety disorder. Sitting all day, hunched over their computers and laptops, the millennials are the one generation that has made sitting a lifestyle. They don’t have an active work life, don’t have time for a regular workout post their work hours, and they prefer to commute through wheels than walking.
Bad work-life balance
Most millennials check their emails and work on their deadlines long after the work hours are over. With no clear demarcation between work and life, they feel a sense of imbalance leading to an increase in anxiety and can cause depression in millenials.
Bad relaxation activities
Binge-watching, Netflix has become a favorite weekend activity of the millennials. But research has proved that watching TV or movies doesn’t relax but leaves one feeling empty and anxious. Going for walks, reading, taking a bath, playing a sport or doing anything else except watching the idiot box are the best options.
Hanging out with anxious people is ‘a big no’
You might feel like you’ve found someone you can vent to who understands you, but studies show that ruminating on anxiety often makes it worse. Furthermore, participating in ‘intergroup anxiety’ increases one’s anxious behaviors.
Instead, seek out people who level your mood. After you hang out with someone, ask yourself if you feel stable and well—or if you’re hyped up and on edge. It’s easy to spend less time with certain people once you’ve decided they’re bad for your health.
How to practice self-care?
(1)Goals: Setting the right kind and achievable goals helps to reduce anxiety. Make a to do list and try to complete it. This gives a sense of satisfaction and relief and also helps one in achieving the target. Instead of procrastinating everyday and going crazy at the last moment it is better to distribute your work equally and do a bit everyday.
(2)Support System: Learn to seek help from family and friends if you are feeling low. Care from people who matter creates a buffer that can take the onslaught of everyday anxieties but stay away from people who are negative and who add on to your misery.
(3)Screen Detox: Technology-free times and zones, especially at night time, improve sleep which plays a vital role in alleviating anxiety. Screen dependence, like caffeine, can make an anxious person feel wired, so use in moderation is recommended. Thought processes speed up with high anxiety levels, so awareness and less reaction to them eases the fight, flight or freeze state.
(4)Calming Techniques: Practice yoga and meditate daily. These help to calm down the mind and get in touch with our inner selves. Practice deep breathing, yoga or a simple walk for 15 mins will make a huge difference.
(5)Reduce Caffeine: Cutting out on caffeine suddenly may lead to withdrawal symptoms like headaches, fatigue and irritability. Reduce your consumption slowly to avoid this. You could also switch over to tea or green tea as healthier alternatives.
`In addition, it’s important to remember to be kind to yourself when you’re going through a stressful time. Not everyone finds the right life partner, creates an artistic masterpiece, writes a book in a day or finds a successful company, becomes a millionaire before the age of 30. If you’re hard on yourself in this way—expecting too much of yourself and feeling stuck—try to exercise more self-compassion. Don’t expect perfection. You’re allowed to make mistakes. Take careful note of the aspects of your choices that you can control, as well as those you can’t—and don’t blame yourself for not getting everything absolutely right. Rather, when you do make a decision, try to accept and gain comfort with the act of stepping purposefully into the unknown, even as you acknowledge that uncertainty is a part of living.