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Why are Millennials the Most Stressed and Anxious Generation Yet?

Posted on 12.04.2019

They are killing the diamond trade. They spend all their money on brunch. They will never get on the housing ladder. Headlines about millennials seem to crop up almost daily, most of them negative, branding those born between 1981 and 1996 as sensitive ‘snowflakes’. Now there may be something else for this struggling generation to contend with: above average levels of stress and anxiety. According to a 2018 study by the Mental Health Foundation, found that those aged between 18 and 38 felt more under pressure at work than their baby boomer colleagues, with more than a quarter (28%) stating that ‘working through’ stress was expected in their job. This is compared with just 12% of those aged between 53 and 71.  


So, why is this? According to Richard Grange, a spokesman for the Mental Health Foundation, speaking to The Times, ‘Millennials are more likely to have insecure contracts, low rates of pay and high entry-level workloads. The pressures they face in today’s employment market are very different to past generations.’ This explanation may cover work, but millennials are feeling anxiety invade other areas of their lives, too.  


‘Western life has become a perpetual cycle of technology, sleep deprivation and spectacularly high expectations set by social media,’ says Vogue Australia writer, Jody Scott. Our compulsive need to check our (many) screens and post online is well documented. A shocking report by the New York Post actually suggests that Americans are spending 42% of their lives in front of screens. And, considering that millennials were the first generation to experience to this level of connectedness and technology in their formative years, its unsurprising they have since struggled to control their exposure. 


Social media and instability at work are also joined by fear over the state of the world. The current political climate (let’s refrain from talking about Trump and Brexit here) has left many feeling alienated while fear over the future of our planet and the environment is growing. However, these concerns are not unique to the millennial generation; after all, anyone may worry about political instability and the world they’re leaving behind for their children and grandchildren. Rather than all this, some have suggested instead that, at its core, millennial anxiety really stems from uncertainty. 


‘Marriage rates for opposite-sex couples are now at their lowest level on record following a gradual long-term decline since the early 1970s,’ declares a spokesperson for the Office of National Statistics. The average age people get married is also continuing to rise and, whether this is a good thing or a bad thing, it does mean an extended period of being ‘unsettled’. Combine this with the fact that people are mostly getting on the property ladder well into their thirties and the instability at work we’ve already mentioned, it’s little wonder that millennials are worried. Especially considering that they are likely to directly compare their lives to their parents at the same age. 


It’s not all bad, though. Millennials have also proven to be a positive force in the workplace by pushing companies to evolve and by espousing mindfulness. They try to cultivate the community far more than older employees and also independently seek out personal growth. Generally speaking, millennials are more open-minded and tolerant  they did coin the term ‘woke’, after all. Their tech-obsession means they are savvy, and their savviness often breeds innovation. Far from being the lazy, self-absorbed individuals, they are often branded by the media, they have a different set of priorities from previous generations which often place education and personal ambition over institutions like marriage and parenthood that have traditionally supported the status quo.    


For anyone of any age suffering from anxiety, the most important thing is to get the support you need. Both Anxiety UK and Mind offer free resources to anyone who is struggling and it is important that you ask for help if you need it. Millennial, Gen X, Gen Z, Baby Boomer  we all get stressed from time to time. 


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