Ah, the millennial generation. Who knew a specific age group could be so greatly misunderstood and unfairly represented? That’s how millennials feel anyway. If you’re like me, you’ve probably read the various articles about how lazy and spoiled millennials are, or maybe you’ve read about how difficult it is to be a millennial.
However you feel about this never-ending topic, there is one thing that’s certain: Millennials are stressed. If you sit in a coffee shop and look around at the 20-somethings around you, you’ll probably find one thing in common, nobody looks relaxed. In fact, just looking around at other people might make you feel anxious. I feel anxious just talking about this. See what I mean?
According to the American Psychological Association, millennials experience way more stress and are less able to manage it than any other generation. The APA’s report also notes that 12% of millennials have an officially diagnosed anxiety disorder—that’s almost twice the percentage of baby boomers. While this is likely contributed to a number of factors, including more access to mental health providers or a decreased social stigma towards therapy and medication for anxiety and depression, millennials recognize their anxiety and are seeking help.
Studies also show 86% of millennials believe they are going through some form of a quarter life crisis, proving that the vast majority of 20-something individuals believes they are not successfully living life. So, why do millennials have more anxiety than other generations, and what can we do about it?
A report from Forbes found that sources of millennial anxiety may include a difficult job market, student debt and even psychological issues such as ambition addiction, career crisis and choice overload. Thanks to the boundless internet, choices really are everywhere - from where you are going to eat (I’m looking at you, Yelp), to what brand of sponges really kill the most grease (hi, Amazon reviews). So naturally, there is no exception for career choices. I follow several Facebook job listing pages, and I don’t even know why.
Reports also believe our computer screens keep us awake, lack of sleep keeps us from being productive, lack of productivity makes us feel sad, and feeling sad makes us anxious. This is an endless cycle. Furthermore, millennials are the first generation to experience a coming-of-age at the same time that social media exploded. We’ve experienced a major shift in how we communicate and relate to other people over an extremely short amount of time. With the majority of millennials projecting a false sense of success and happiness via their instagram pages, it’s exceedingly difficult to refrain from harmful comparisons to our peers.
To dig deeper into anxiety and how to successfully manage it, we turn to Tim JP Collins. Collins is an expert in anxiety and stress. He also successfully manages his own chronic anxiety, and therefore he practices what he preaches. Here are the ways in which Collins manages anxiety as mentioned on his weekly podcast, cleverly named, “The Anxiety Podcast.”
1. Silence And Space.
“We’re often looking for the solution in the next book or the next podcast,” Collins says. “But it’s not an external thing that comes to you. The tools to change are inside you.” Collins recommends we turn off and take space away from the sights and sounds of life. Stimuli in our lives is a constant distraction from our own thoughts and feelings. That in itself can create added anxiety. Our deepest thoughts give us the answer. Unwind and listen. The answers are there.
Go to a quiet place, take out a pen and a piece of paper and begin to write. “Leave your phone behind, go for a walk in nature,” Collins states. According to Collins, “anxiety is an indicator that your life is out of alignment. It’s your intuition, your inner voice, letting you know that something is not right.” The goal in this exercise is to pinpoint where your alignment is off. Where is the root of it and how can you fix it? Is it your job? Is it your partner? Do you feel lost? Listen to yourself and ask these questions, whether or not it scares you.
3. Practice The 3 C’s.
Once you’ve followed the first two steps, ask yourself the 3 C’s: Curiosity, Courage, and Compassion. The curiosity enables us to ask why. Why don’t I like my job? Why don’t I feel fulfilled? Be curious about your life and your choices. Once you’ve asked yourself these difficult questions, have the courage to answer them honestly. Under your answers may lie fear and that’s okay. Be courageous in your answers. Bring compassion by being gentle with yourself. Don’t be too hard on yourself but accept you are where you are because of your own personal choices. You chose to work in a job you don’t find compelling. You chose to be in a unhealthy relationship. Be honest but be compassionate. You have the power and control to change these things.
Although there are other treatments out there for anxiety, such as yoga, meditation, and a large glass of red wine, nothing is more effective than self reflection. As millennials, we are experts in escapism. We turn on Netflix, browse through Facebook and scour the internet for connection. But when we’re truly able to turn off the screens and tune into ourselves, the answers are within us all.