If you’re wondering “Why are Millennials stressed?”, we’ll do a deep dive here into unique challenges faced by this generation and their mental wellness crisis.
Although stress itself is not unique to this group of young adults, or to any other group of people, it is true that each generation faces stressors that can hurt their quality of life, including their physical, emotional, and mental health. In this post, we’ll share an in-depth portrait of why Millennials are saying they feel so stressed, what situations usually cause them the greatest amount of anxiety, what unproductive habits stressed-out Millennials tend to gravitate to—and how to reduce this stress in a healthy way.
First, red alert, red alert! We know, through reviewing Google search data, that hundreds of people every year search on “Millennials stress statistics,” and so we’ve found plenty of them to share. If this interests you, here they are. If you’re just not a stats kind of person, that’s okay, too. You can easily scroll past them to the section titled “Unproductive Habits.”
Diving Into The Problem: Millennials Stress Statistics
The American Psychological Association (APA) provides a wealth of information about Millennials and stress, noting that this generation is experiencing “way more stress and are less able to manage it than any other generation.” Specifically, the APA shares that 12 percent of this group already have an officially-diagnosed anxiety disorder, nearly double that of the Baby Boomer generation.
Sources of stress do vary by generation, confirms the APA report, with Millennials (and Gen Xers) most often stressed by:
- work: true for 76 percent of them surveyed
- money (no statistic provided)
- job stability: true for 53 percent of them surveyed
Plus, 51 percent of Millennials in the APA survey say that personal health concerns are also a source of stress, with family health problems causing stress for 48 percent of people in this generation. And, speaking of health, Millennials and Gen Xers are the most likely to say that stress is a trigger for their engaging in unhealthy behaviors and otherwise experiencing stress-related symptoms.
For example, Millennials report:
- laying awake at night over the past month because of stress: 52-plus percent
- feeling irritable because of stress: 44 percent
- feeling angry because of stress: 44 percent
During the five-year period before the survey was taken, 62 percent of Millennials had tried to reduce their stress, but they didn’t necessarily find success. In fact, only 29 percent of this generation believe they’re doing an excellent or very good job with stress management.
Here are a few more stats to consider:
- only 27 percent of Millennials say they eat healthy diets
- only 29 percent of this generation say they’re getting enough sleep
- they’re more likely than older generations to drink alcohol, smoke, and turn to stress-related eating as a response to anxiety
This isn’t intended to point fingers at anyone, just to point out that just about everyone has bad habits that, if properly addressed, could lead to a calmer, more fulfilling life. Forbes.com points out how Millennials, specifically, tend to have one or more of eight unproductive habits that can boost levels of stress. Here are just some of them:
- bad sleep habits, which can set the brain up to worry too much; bad habits can include going to bed at erratic times, scrolling on a phone or tablet before bed, and otherwise not making sleep a priority
- coffee, which can make people who are already feeling anxious to become even more jittery, and can even provoke panic attacks; it can also play a role in dehydration, which is an “anxiety trigger” all by itself
- not really clocking out from work; interestingly enough, Millennials measure productivity by work output, not by the number of hours works, viewing working as a “thing,” not a “place,” which can make it harder for them to mentally check out and enjoy their personal lives
- hanging out with other anxious people, which can actually increase anxiety-related behaviors; misery may love company, but that doesn’t mean that this strategy will help to mitigate this type of misery
The Forbes article goes into much more depth, making our bullet points the tip of the anxiety iceberg. Now, we’ll switch gears to compare how Millennials with high money stress manage their lives when compared to those of the same generation, but with low levels of money stress.
- Watch television or movies for two of more hours per day:
- High stress: 58%
- Low stress: 35%
- Surf the internet:
- High stress 67%
- Low stress 35%
- High stress 46%
- Low stress 24%
- High stress 41%
- Low stress 19%
- Drink alcohol:
- High stress 25%
- Low stress 9%
- High stress 21%
- Low stress 3%
That’s enough about the problem! Now it’s time to focus on solutions.
Millennials have also been called the “therapy generation,” and this willingness to seek help can be a real plus. They’re also more willing than older generations, once in front of a therapist, to openly discuss issues.
“Today’s teens and young adults,” shares PsychotherapyWorker.org, “are a far cry from the often silent and guarded clients of old. How could they not turn things upside-down, having been raised in mostly nonhierarchical families by parents who encourage children to speak their minds from the get-go? They come into my consulting room so poised I hardly remember that they’re here to be helped with often overwhelming psychological and behavioral issues, almost 50 percent having received a diagnosis by the age of 18. They can be at the edge of collapse, yet as friendly and together as a talk show host. Savvy consumers, they’ve checked me out online and conferred endlessly with their friend group before their appointment. Even the politest don’t mince words. ‘Given my crappy insurance, we need to make headway fast!’ a 23-year-old announced just this week.”
So, from that perspective, Millennials may be more likely to benefit from psychotherapy. And, here are additional ways that people from this generation (and from any generation, for that matter) can reduce their levels of stress.
Reducing Workplace Stress
Because Millennials identify work as one of their biggest stressors, here are tips by Entrepreneur.com that specifically focus on reducing stress and anxiety in the workplace. They include planning ahead and prioritizing tasks for the day. That can help to give you a sense of control, and also allows you to plan for short breaks where you can go for a relaxing walk or chat with friends. Other tips include:
- try to reduce interruptions; although this isn’t always easy, it can really help
- personalize your workplace, perhaps with pictures, plants, and so forth
- consider a massage chair or head massager, which can help to boost endorphins that can protect you from stress
- recognize that, sometimes, stress can be beneficial, offering you cues when something just isn’t right
Don’t be afraid to speak up! Let your manager know when work is stressful. Tell your colleagues, too, and brainstorm solutions together. It can also help to find an enjoyable new hobby for off-hours, because it can “help to change perspective, distract from a brooding frame of mind, and enjoy life to the full.” Have you always wanted to learn how to paint landscapes or write a book? Why not now?
Stress Management Techniques
First, we’d like to share that you can take a free mental wellness assessment online through Hardy Healthy Gut to get a baseline assessment as a first step towards a healthier life. Now, here’s more!
StandDesk.com shares intriguing ideas, ones that go beyond the obvious. The first is to embrace silence and space. In this always-connected world, it’s tempting to listen to the next podcast, or to read another book, to see what you can watch on Netflix, or scroll through what friends are saying on social media. And, there’s nothing wrong with being connected; in fact, social networks can be great support systems. But, it’s also important to “take space away from the sights and sounds of life.”
As you breathe in quietness, it can also help to write your thoughts down by hand. Meaning, yes, pen and paper. Let your intuition share where you’re off track and follow your inner voice where it leads you.
As the third step, focus on the 3 Cs: curiosity, courage, and compassion. Curiosity allows you to delve into why a certain situation is stressful and to brainstorm ways to improve what’s going on. Then, after coming up with answers that resonate, it takes courage to acknowledge them and then make necessary changes. Finally, it’s important to be gentle and compassionate with yourself as you recognize that, yes, you have the power to make changes that will reduce your levels of stress to help you lead a more fulfilling life.
WebMD.com, meanwhile, recommends that you meditate daily to help reduce anxiety. It can be as simple as sitting up straight, two feet on the floor, with your eyes closed as you chant a calming mantra. You could speak it out loud or say it silently to yourself, and it can help to put your hand on your abdomen to feel your breaths slowly go in and out.
In fact, stress can be managed by the deep breathing alone, if chanting a mantra doesn’t resonate with you. The article suggests that it can also help as you “Notice how the air feels on your face when you’re walking and how your feet feel hitting the ground. Enjoy the texture and taste of each bite of food.”
A Harvard publication offers up recommendations, as well, including the use of guided imagery where you imagine a setting that soothes you. This could be a warm beach with white sand and the smell of ocean water in the air. Or, it could be the top of a mountain, where you are secluded and safe, listening to birdsong and the rush of a river. The idea is to choose a location with personal significance and a positive association. As another option, the article recommends repetitive prayer if spirituality appeals to you.
Other choices include yoga, qigong, and tai chi, each of which can give you mental focus. Pilates can also help. MayoClinic.com notes numerous benefits of tai chi, including the following (quoted from their site)
- decreased stress, anxiety and depression
- improved mood
- improved aerobic capacity
- increased energy and stamina
- improved flexibility, balance and agility
- improved muscle strength and definition
It may also help, the article says, in these ways:
- enhance quality of sleep
- enhance the immune system
- help lower blood pressure
- improve joint pain
- improve symptoms of congestive heart failure
- improve overall well-being
- reduce risk of falls in older adults
If this ideal appeals to you, what’s important is to choose which discipline works best for you. Now, here’s one more key idea to consider: the importance of balancing your stress hormones.
Stress Hormone Balancing
Addressing the symptoms of stress and anxiety can be helpful but, for a more comprehensive solution, it typically makes sense to tackle the root cause by reducing biochemical stress to help improve how you feel physically, mentally, emotionally, and psychologically. Pioneers in this area include Shawn Talbott Ph.D., FACSM.
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