It's no secret that people today are more anxious than ever. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, anxiety levels were surging. Each individual is different, but, according to CNBC, Millennials, as a whole, report more anxiety than previous generations, and Gen-Zers report even higher numbers of it than Millennials.
Who are Millennials & Gen-Zers?
Most consider Millennials as the generation born from 1981-1996, and Gen-Zers as the generation born from 1997 or after.
Why is anxiety affecting them so much?
People often attribute it to the rise of the digital age and social media. However, there are many other contributing factors.
In America, our generation has seen more crises at a younger age than our parents. I witnessed 9/11 as a fourth-grader getting ready for school. The Financial Crisis of 2008 happened when I was in high school. And the global pandemic hit a few weeks after I got married.
What worries us most, though?
Money. Us Millennial college graduates have had to deal with much higher student debt than our parents. According to Business Insider, tuition has more than doubled since the '80s. On top of all that, we've had to face rising housing, healthcare, and childcare costs. And the cost of living seems to be getting higher and higher. Many of us are more stressed than ever and can't access the help we need due to funds.
The physical toll
When anxiety is unmanaged, it leads to countless health and relationship issues. Many in our generation even quit jobs over it.
I grew up in a home where each member of my immediate family had anxiety problems. We were fortunate that we could commiserate about it together, but our mental health issues often made us physically sick over the years.
My first therapy appointment changed my life. It was the first week at my university, and I felt ashamed of being so introverted. I was enlightened to hear that I could still live a full life, with rich relationships, as an introvert. What a concept! After that, I focused my studies on Psychology, and I continue to study it today. I'm continually learning new methods to lighten my load, and it has helped tremendously.
Psychology Today states that a powerful method for reducing anxiety is helping others. When I heard this, I thought, "Oh, so the lessons I heard in Sunday School to 'love my neighbor' and 'do not fear' actually go hand-in-hand?"
Do it your own way
I used to think that helping others had to look exactly like Mother Theresa. Like, I had to get the nun outfit and move to Calcutta or something. Well, I'm so relieved I don't have to be an official saint to make a difference. If we all tried to be exactly like Mother Theresa, the world would be missing so many other beautiful things. We all have different talents. When we use them to help others, the world is so much better for it.
No matter which generation you're part of, my tip for you today is to find what lights you up and find a way to bless others through it. It's so much easier to deal with the struggles of whatever endeavor you pursue when you know you're doing it for others.
My favorite thing to do is to write and connect to others deeply. I feel the most alive and calm when I listen to a friend's worries, console them, and encourage them. That's the work I would love to do my whole life.
I've found that I'm just so much freer when I admit, without any shame, that I struggle with anxiety and share exactly how I'm overcoming it. Sharing this helps to strengthen both me and others.
The truth is, if I can help in my small unique way, the world may not be perfect for it, but I believe I can help at least a few people live a brighter life. That's what I want to leave behind when my years on earth are up.
A healing space
So here's my non-Mother Theresa way of loving my neighbors. Please feel free to share what you're dealing with and which methods are helping you. I want this to be a healing space.