According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America seven out of ten adults in the United States say they experience stress or anxiety daily. To many of us, these stats don’t come as a shock … Americans are stressed! Our days are filled with constant notifications, choice overload, and external pressures brought on by the comparison of our peers. New reports by The American Psychological Association found that no generation feels these effects more than millennials.
So, what is it that leads this generation to higher levels of stress?
1. Your Phone
What is the longest you have gone with out checking your phone? Unless you are sleeping, are not allowed access, or are suffering from your 89th broken iphone screen – It is safe to assume your answer to this question was not that long. Just about everyone is glued to their phone these days. There was even a new language formed based on phones – Emojis! Our phones beep, flash, vibrate, sing, dance – anything to grab our attention. We are constantly waiting for the next notification. We have formed relationships with our phones; as they are often the first thing we grab in the morning and the last thing we see at night. There is no doubt technology has improved our lives; however, constantly being logged in does have its downsides. It has made us seriously anxious, less productive and endlessly distracted – even if we hate to admit it.
The next time you reach for your phone first thing in the morning, panic when you realize you have 3% battery, or feel the urge to scroll through your Facebook feed – Take a moment to ask yourself, what am I so attached to? Instead spend time reflecting on what you hope to accomplish for the day, be present with those who are around you or spend some time outside.
2. Netflix & Chill
How many hours a week do you typically spend watching TV? Snuggling up on the couch and watching five episodes of Stranger Things, you may think this ultimate way to unwind – research disproves this trend. Studies have shown that people often times felt more depressed and anxious after watching just two hours of television than those who did not. While resting may reduce anxiety and stress in the short term, if done in overload it can actually influence isolation, reduce productivity, and increase low self-esteem.
That being said, the next time you see the words ‘Are you still watching…?’ pop up on your screen – resist the urge to continue. Spend time actually talking with your significant other, exercise, build something, or read a book.
3. Poor Sleeping Habits
Gone are the days of going to bed at a set time, eight hours of rest per night, and getting out of bed with out hitting the snooze button 5 times. Perhaps one of the most common contributors to anxiety and worry is poor sleep. It has been shown that a lack of sleep may contribute to the ramping up of the area of the brain that contributes to excessive worry. Excessive worry leads to higher levels of stress and often times less productivity.
So what can you do to form healthier sleep habits? The number one thing you can do is to establish a nighttime routine, free from technology. By creating a nightly rhythm sans the stimulating activities, your body will take cues that it’s time to calm down and go to sleep. It’s also helpful to keep a journal next to your bed to write down thoughts that might be keeping you awake.
4. Skipping Meals
We’ve all heard it before … Food is Fuel for your body. When you skip lunch or look back at your bank statement to notice Mcdonalds was your go to dinner all week – you’re not doing yourself any favors. Your body works like a machine, when it notices a lack of nutrients it releases adrenaline and other hormones to give you the energy you need to keep moving. This may lead to anxiety like sensations such as dizziness, shakiness, confusion, and grogginess. Food is a biological need; therefore, it is no surprise anxiety naturally follows hunger.
To regulate your metabolism, insulin levels, and mental stability it’s best to eat meals regularly. We easily cave to convenience over health with our on the go, financially stressed and busy lifestyles – to combat this plan your meals and keep granola bars and nuts handy.
It has also been said that cooking is therapeutic; making meals can help to reduce stress, increase creativity, and promote relaxation. So the next time you’re feeling stressed, perhaps it is time to go in the kitchen and start sautéing your way to peace and happiness.
5. Drinking Coffee
How do millennials take their coffee? Seriously. Very seriously. After checking our phones in the morning, more often than not we grab our coffee. Coffee brings a sense of alertness, energy and comfort to our mornings, mid afternoons, mid-mid afternoons, late afternoons and sometimes even our evenings. The sad truth is our obsession with coffee is not so sweet after all … it can cause irritability, nervousness, and heightened anxiety. Too much coffee can also lead to dehydration, which is a biological anxiety trigger.
While many of us may think that our coffee obsession is helping our productivity, it in fact may not be as helpful as we think. This is not to say you have to rid yourself of Carmel Macchiato’s, Starbucks new Coconut Cold Brew, or good old fashioned cups of black – like many things in life it’s about moderation. Take a look at your intake and ask yourself, could I cut back? Try switching to just one – two cups a day, if you feel calmer or to your surprise more productive perhaps commit to even less.
Despite our strengths, chronic stress and anxiety are not sustainable. If you are suffering from the day to day annoyance, pain, and decreased productivity of anxiety there are things you can do to help yourself. By making some of the changes discussed above we can improve our moods and our lives one habit at a time.