Millennials have it rough, and I am not kidding. For one, this age group has been found to experience more stress than any other generation alive today.
According to a survey by the APA, millennials reported a stress level of 5.4 out of 10, compared to a national average of 4.9 out of 10 (a 3.6 stress level is the ceiling to be considered healthy)-- and that was in 2012.
Being in your 20s and 30s can be an exciting time of life, it can also feel overwhelming. This is often the time when you are experiencing so many things for the first time, like transitioning from school to a full-time career (or back for grad school?), moving to a new city, ending a relationship, getting married, having a baby.
Sometimes it seems that the choice ahead of you requires you to decide between two important values--stability vs risk taking, financial security vs financial autonomy, living in the now vs planning for the future.
Anxiety comes from uncertainty and millennials, in particular, have plenty to be uncertain about: the housing market, your student debt, and dating in today’s techy world, just to name a few.
Its important to know your stressors, so you can look out for them and develop useful boundaries and coping strategies to manage them.
Here are 5 factors that might be contributing to your anxiety:
1. Your phone.
This study found that students in the USA spend approximately 9 hours each day on their phones--and that was in 2014. While technology can be entertaining and a useful tool, it can also increase our anxiety. Part of what makes your smart phone so addictive is the way that screen-based entertainment increases arousal of the central nervous system which, in turn, amplifies anxiety.
Our fix: Try turning it off (definitely at least half hour before bed) and sometimes leaving it behind.
2. Bad sleep habits.
One of the most common contributors to anxiety is inadequate sleep. Recent studies have found a correlation between sleep deprivation and an area of the brain responsible for excessive worrying. Some personal habits that might be undermining your sleep regimen are:
Screen use right before bed
Keeping an erratic sleep schedule
Not prioritizing sleep
Eating a large meal shortly before bed
Our fix: eat earlier, half-hour of no screen time before bed, and try at least for one week to go to bed a half-hour earlier than normal. Also, check out our recent blogpost about insomnia.
3. Social media.
Social media is definitely a huge part of your life, and a great way to stay connected, but it runs the risk of feeding into your social anxiety. Having access to your ex’s Instagram feed, or the FOMO that comes from seeing where you weren’t on your Facebook feed does not do anything good for confidence, let alone anxiety levels.
Our fix: Knowing that the information you consume on social media is a choice, and hold yourself accountable to limiting your access to information that does not serve you.(go ahead and block your ex, or that mean girl who always makes you angry-jealous when you see her feed.)
4. Online dating.
You might be feeling a dissonance between your real life romantic experiences and your ideas about how love should feel. Dating can seem almost impersonal these days, and frankly, kinda judgemental.
Our fix: Taking the time to orient yourself, learn from past relationships, and cultivate clarity when it comes to your relationship goals, can help you stay grounded in the digital age. Also check out our post on online dating here.
5. Poorly defined work/life boundary.
Work-life balance is more nebulous than ever these days. Mostly due to our smart phones and email. We are always accessible. There is also good and bad to teleworking, which is more common these days than ever before. Teleworking may afford you a workout in between meetings, but not great for setting boundaries between home and work life.
Our fix: “Clocking out” has a significant psychological component that cannot be overestimated. Creating rituals around your home/life time that involve unplugging, as well as exploring your beliefs about needing to be constantly available are essential.
If you’re feeling anxious, know that you are not alone; reaching out for support might make circumstances that are seemingly beyond your control feel a lot more manageable.
At Oasis we will work with you on doing the deeper work of exploring the judgements and feelings behind your choices, as well as come up with a behavioral plan to make actionable and concrete steps forward to a less anxious you. Learn more about therapy for anxiety here.
Are you are ready to take action?