In my practice, when I meet with someone in their 20s it’s rare that they won't mention “anxiety” as the reason that they're coming in to see me. The topic of "anxiety" is normal, every day conversation for these young people — which is scary, but it's the reality of our current culture. With social media breeding comparison on overdrive, being overloaded with information, and attempting to keep up with the Jones', it’s no wonder we’re all feeling a bit… anxious.
From sleep issues to stresses about jobs, anxiety is an unpleasant thing to deal with, but the good news is that there are absolutely things that can help. Continue reading for the major causes of millennial anxiety and ways around each type.
FOMO, meaning "Fear of Missing Out," began as some fun lingo but it is increasingly becoming associated with some serious anxiety that can be anything but fun.
Simply opening your Facebook and Instagram feed can immediately cause feelings of FOMO to rise to the surface. Whether you're wishing that you are on that fancy trip your friends are on or bummed that you missed a party that you weren't invited to, FOMO is real.
How to deal with FOMO:
Try to get to the root of your FOMO. Categorize the times when you feel it the hardest. If it surrounds travel, set goals and start saving for your next trip or book a weekend get away. Do you experience FOMO because you believe that you don't have many friends? Become proactive and sign up for a community sports league or volunteer with an organization whose mission you align with.
It's important to take note of what your FOMO is telling you and make changes around whatever area you're missing out on. It's also a good idea to log off of social media for a bit.
Not Prioritizing Sleep
Even though more senior generations like to assume that the millennial generation is lazy, it's actually true that the younger set is, on the whole, very hard working. Young adults have lived a life that is 24/7. This often means staying up until 1 a.m. to hit a deadline or texting every person back before being able to put the phone down.
The constant priority for everything that is happening in life takes a toll on sleep. This is not good.
How to prioritize sleep
If you notice that you're not getting seven to nine hours of sleep per night, it's important to make a change. Start to say no to events or working late if it's getting in the way of rest.
Creating a nighttime routine is a great idea to help you wind down. Put your phone on airplane mode, take a warm bath, drink herbal tea and get into bed with an analog book at least nine hours before your alarm goes off.
Being the next Big Boss
Career anxiety may be the biggest source of anxiety for people in their 20s. While pushing to be the next break out star is great, it also leaves you feeling less than if we're not successful at starting our own business or rising to the top immediately. And of course there's the anxiety that presents itself when you don't know what you want to do with your life. Individuals in their 20s were born into a constant rat race that pushes people to be the best or more inventive than the rest. The internal and external pressure to have things figured out right out of college is exhausting.
How to deal
If you're feeling a lull in motivation but like your job, it's probably time that you take a break. Use your vacation (or sick...) days and take a break from the cubical for a few days. Even if all it means is that you get to catch up on your doctor's appointments and chores around the apartment. The time away from the desk will reboot your energy.
If you're anxious about what to pursue, take some time to attend a workshop or conference that you're interested in. Put yourself around inspiring people to gain more information and get things brewing.
Grab a cup of coffee with someone you respect and pick their brain. The act of talking to friends who feel this pressure can also help because you will realize that you're not alone.
Not knowing how to relax
We’re so anxious, the thought of relaxation even stresses us out. But this is really about how we’re relaxing, and that’s usually through binge watching, which research shows actually can have the opposite effect. Watching TV and spending hours scrolling through social feeds might be to blame.
How to relax
Force yourself to truly take a break - even if that means you become a little bored. Think back to the times when you've felt the most relaxed and go back to that place.
Find the practices that truly leave you feeling relaxed and renewed and incorporate them into your weekly routine. Maybe you'll even take the step to turn off your phone for one day a week and block out any new information from clouding your head. It's uncomfortable at the start, but you'll feel your anxiety decrease within a few hours
Hitting Milestones by a Certain Age
Many 20-somethings need to feel like they've reached a certain level of success by a certain age. If that age is reached and our careers or personal life still seems “mediocre,” cue the anxiety.
This is likely due to the fact that while times are changing and people are doing things later in life, millenials were brought up by a generation much different. The parents of 20-somethings got married young and they didn’t go back to school, and that’s likely weighing in on where you're *supposed* to be — or where you thought you'd be by age 30 as a kid.
How to deal
Instead of setting up your life to reach specific milestones by certain ages, let life take the course it was meant to take on its own. That idea is way easier said than done, but be careful to settle for a job or a partner all because you're turning 30 next year and you have to have those things before then. Set goals for things you can control, but really try not to attach an age to the goal. Do what feels right for you—no matter what your friends or parents have done.
Most importantly, take care of yourself! No matter the type of anxiety, there's usually one thing in common: we all need to step away from our phones and tune into ourselves instead. Move slower, create real human communication, take breaks, journal, meditate, go to therapy. Do what you need to do to feel good personally.