What Is Making Millennials So Anxious?
Constant worry & anxiety. It always hits you in the gut first.
Then your palms would sweat.
Your mind would race.
You can’t stop feeling worried.
Many of us experience anxious feelings to varying degrees.
Anxiety is a spectrum disorder and is one of the most prevalent mental conditions among the UK Millennials.
Young people in the UK have some of the poorest mental wellbeing in the world, new research suggests, with only Japan falling below British millennials by levels of stress and anxiety.
What is making Millennials so anxious?
Anxiety is an indicator that your reality is out of sync from your expectations.
Anxiety is a symptom, not a problem and it’s letting you know that something is not right, so that you can do something about it.
Even though anxiety is individual for everyone, there is a generation-wide epidemic that is causing us all stress – it’s uncertainty – that constant out-of-control worry that something bad might happen.
Thanks to social media, mental illness is less of a taboo and more people are talking about it openly. Emily Aagaard is one of that 20 % of people in the UK who suffered from severe anxiety. On her blog, you can read about her tips on how she manages her anxiety every day.
Career, relationships, housing, marriage, family – these are all milestones that Millennials are pressured to meet at certain times in their life.
All those delayed or unmet milestones make us feel highly insecure about ourselves, worrying that we are ‘less than’ what we are supposed to be, resulting in the loss of self-confidence.
Young people feeling uncertain is nothing new, but my generation is staring down a peculiar set of unknowns.
Capitalism is making Millennials so anxious
Millennials had high expectations of themselves for what we should have achieved.
Our parents raised us to think that hard work can get us anywhere.
So we spend longer in education.
But when we entered the workforce, we found ourselves over-qualified for the junior roles available to us.
We were also full of ideas of how to serve society through the work we do, urging businesses to focus on people and purpose.
We soon realised, that as cogs (i.e employees) working for a company, we are just bystanders on the self-sustained wheel called capitalism and that business leaders, no matter what they claim to stand for, would never put people before profit.
Work expectations vs work reality was a head-on defeat.
For us, who grew up imaging work to be the single most satisfying source of self-realisation and fulfilment, the reality of adult-life has left us to feel anxious and unhappy in our work.
There should be more to life than a big pay-check !?
Can we ever pursue “meaningful work” in a society that is run by the rich?
In a capitalist system, where a human being’s worth is measured by their wealth (rather than their compassion and service to their fellows), the vast majority of young people are going to grow to think of themselves worthless.
To blame businesses for not being able to meet Millennial workplace expectations is short-sighted.
In order to solve the “Millennial workplace” problem once and for all, we need to build an economy, in which the question is no longer “how much money can I acquire?“ but instead “how much can I help those less fortunate than me?”
Political uncertainty is making Millennials so anxious
As a result of dissatisfying “working for the rich” employment, many Millennials choose to ignore traditional 9-5 paths and pick more meaningful opportunities for work.
However, the recent political upheaval (Brexit, Trump presidency) have discouraged the ambition of young professionals from taking the plunge to leave the jobs they dislike. Millennials are now less likely to leave the security of their jobs, even if they don’t enjoy their work.
If you are like me, you have been working at a job you hate.
There’s nothing worse than being stuck somewhere you don’t want to be. You have no motivation to get out of bed in the morning, you feel frustrated about your situation, you start calling in sick more often and you don’t function at full capacity and get into a conflict with coworkers.
Anxiety can show in difficulty concentrating, tiredness, memory and concentration problems, muscular aches, poor sleep to full-blown panic attacks.
Individuality is making Millennials so anxious
Urbanisation means that people are leading more independent, less family-oriented lives, leading to increased isolation and loneliness.
In this world where family values are on the decrease and life is just to think of oneself, youth remains obsessed with possessions and accumulation of wealth.
No wonder, we lose connection and compassion to fellow humans, when we treat everyone like potential competitors.
According to a social wellbeing researcher Richard Eckersley, communal structures and strong social bonds are important for our mental wellbeing. People, who have close family or friends to turn to in times of crises, experienced less stress.
Whether it is the commercialisation of public space or increasing working hours that reduce the time for social activity, we live in a society in which we are all increasingly socially isolated and lonely, destroying one of the key mechanisms available to protect against mental anguish.
Social media is making Millennials so anxious
Our obsession with social media is just an extension of our individuality, image and fame-obsessed society.
The problem with social media is that it paints the fictional picture of everyone having perfect lives, but us.
We forget that everyone else (just like us) are only broadcasting carefully edited image and not the mundane everyday.
We feel a strong desire to impress others online because it makes us feel good.
Every time someone likes, comments our shares our post, dopamine, a chemical responsible for pleasure, is released into our brain.
With a constant barrage of dopamine, the brain becomes dependent on this acknowledgement, which, if not released in regular intervals, can amplify anxiety, low moods and depression.
So if you’re looking to increase your mental wellbeing, consider spending less time on social media, impressing people you don’t even like. Switch off every once in a while to take in all the good stuff that’s happening around you in real-time, surrounded by friends, who like you for who you are.