The American Psychological Association recently released its annual Stress in America survey. The findings are chock full of interesting information about how Americans feel stress, manage stress, and are affected by stress. Some of the data is even broken down by gender, region and generation.
This year’s findings suggest that Millennials (these are folks aged 18-33) are the most stressed of any generation surveyed. APA also reports that these young adults haven’t found much success in relieving their stress.
In digging through APA’s reports and the data within it, I started wondering why this might be. I didn’t have to think too far back to remember what it was like starting out in life. Let’s take a step back for a moment and remember what it is like to be 18-33, and what many of these folks are living through:
- Finding a job
- Moving out of the family home
- Saving for a deposit on a first apartment or a down payment for a first home
- Finding a life partner
- Determining when/if to have children
- If they already have children, they are likely young and needy in terms of time, energy, financial resources, etc.
- Deciding whether to pursue higher education, military service or volunteer work
Just writing this list is making me tired and stressed. Being a young adult is difficult in the best of times, what with all the major life decisions and changes that take place during this time. Add to the mix a poor economy, scarcity of good jobs, and difficulty obtaining credit, and you end up with an overly stressed group of young people.
In her article in USA Today, Sharon Jayson suggests that one reason Millenials report more stress may be that they are more accustomed to talking about stress and are more aware of their psychological and emotional processes overall. This may be true, but the fact remains that they are highly stressed, and we all know that too much stress is not a good thing.
What can young adults do about stress?
So what can young people do to manage their stress, while remaining in a stressful life stage in a tough economic environment?
Minimize the use of unhealthy coping strategies. Drinking too much, using illegal drugs, and/or smoking tobacco may work to manage stress in the short term, but in the long term they can make things a whole lot worse. Minimizing or eliminating these strategies, will help decrease stress over time
Find something that works for you. Yoga works for some; it’s an irritation for others. Finding one or two reliable, accessible stress management strategies that works FOR YOU is essential.
Contact your health provider. Primary care physicians can be wonderful resources in terms of coping with stress. They may have strategies to provide on their own, or they may have some local mental health providers to which to refer you.