When I turned 21, I thought my adult life had finally begun. Being “in my 20s” sounded fancier, somewhat more grown up. And I guess I thought — naively — that I’d just start “adulting” naturally, just as the hormones had kicked in years before to transform me from a Barbie-loving 12-year old into a teenager. The almost overnight switch.
But on the eve of my 21st birthday, I had a sinking feeling it wasn’t going to happen that smoothly.
Adulting in modern day life is a bit of a strange one. Though carving out our own paths, moving out of home, and entering into “grown up” relationships is by no means unique to this generation, we’re also immersed in the digital world, where social media rules and it’s so very easy to compare yourself to what everyone else is doing — or not doing.
Am I successful enough?
Should I be married with kids by now?
Will I ever have my own home?
An American Psychological Association (APA) report on American health has shown that, as a generation, millennials are more likely to experience stress and anxiety than previous generations. So, here’s a little insight into the worries that every millennial has — me included — and a handy way to quash them!
Money doesn’t guarantee happiness, but it certainly makes the world go ’round — and it’s a top concern for so many millennials. Indeed, according to that same APA report on American health, millennials report higher levels of stress about money than most other adult populations. It seems to flow in and out of our bank accounts at rapid speeds and is the primary source of independence, so we tend to value it pretty highly.
Money isn’t an exclusive worry of millennials, but it’s certainly a concern for those who are tied down by student debt or trying to buy their own homes (regardless of how much avocado toast they eat).
Quash it! Having a better grasp of how much money is going in and out of your account helps to manage that worry and stop it from becoming all-consuming. Try keeping a spreadsheet that tracks your income and how much you spend and on what. If you notice coffee expenses are getting a little excessive, cut back. Knowledge is power!
With so much focus on money and success, health can often fall by the wayside — especially among millennials. A Zocdoc survey shows that over half of millennials visit a doctor less than once per year. Meanwhile, we’re bombarded by #fitfam’s and picture-perfect, calorie-calculated breakfasts on Instagram. It’s hard not to look at your own fitness choices and wonder whether you’re getting it totally wrong. Am I not eating enough superfoods? Can I even afford them?
Quash it! You don’t need to be drinking maca, almond, chia, goji, acai smoothies every morning to be healthy. Social media can give us a warped view of what we think we should be doing. When it comes to health, it’s all about balance.
I suggest the 80/20 rule. 80 percent of the time, try to eat your greens and get enough protein to make sure your body is functioning properly. And then 20 percent of the time, enjoy yourself. Indulge and satiate that sweet tooth of yours. If you’re really worried about any particular issues, book an appointment with your doctor to run some tests for peace of mind.
It’s easy to forget that you’re your own priority with time and energy taken working your way up the career ladder and seeing friends. Looking after and nurturing yourself is the most important thing you can do. If you neglect your own well-being everything else suffers. But where to find the time?
Quash it! Take a tip from Denmark, where “hygge” is a national priority. What’s hygge? It roughly translates to a feeling of comfort, relaxation, and overall well-being. Rather than setting aside time to practice mindfulness or meditation, this simple philosophy focuses on gratitude and indulging in the soothing things that we already have around us.
While this itself won’t solve wider issues, it does force us to reassess whether we’re gliding through life trying to please everyone else or indulging in our senses and nurturing self-care.
Worry — including about the above issues — can take a toll on our mental health. And while mental health is garnering more and more vital coverage in the press, it’s still something many are accustomed to dealing with on our own. At school, we were taught about the Pythagorean theorem and gravity. But what about our mental health?
Manage it! You can’t quash a mental health issue, but you can learn to manage it. We’re often too busy, independent, or proud to ask for help. But taking the steps you need to in order to get out of a bad patch — like getting some advice or making self-care a bigger part of your routine — doesn’t make you a weaker person. Rather, you’re taking control back.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be a very effective way of working your way through a number of mental health issues, including generalized anxiety disorder. Pick a therapist whom you trust and be open about talking through your issues. It helped me immensely to have an external confidant to air my thoughts to without any fear of bias or judgement.
FOMO — fear of missing out — is so widespread it even has its own page on Wikipedia. And it’s often aroused by social media. Even though I identify as a very independent person who doesn’t typically give into peer pressure, I still experience it myself and worry about missing out on certain social occasions. I know many friends who run themselves dry trying to attend every social engagement, even though they secretly admit to me they’d rather spend the night watching television and unwinding after a busy day.
Quash it! Seeing every social occasion plastered over Facebook and Instagram certainly doesn’t help if you’re trying to overcome FOMO. However, you don’t need to be at every party, event, and drink-get-together to maintain a healthy social life.
If you’re finding it all a little bit too much, limit yourself to one or two social endeavours per week and choose them wisely. Not only will you be more conscious about quality social time, but you’ll also save money and feel more assertive, too!
If pressed, just say you’re catching up with work or can only commit to one event per week. If they’re a real friend, they’re not going to be bothered about it so long as you’re honest.
Oh, and when you’re having your next Netflix binge at home for a personal unwinding session, switch off your notifications and leave your phone out of sight — it does wonders for your mind! Watch the FOMO vanish.
Millennials aren’t alone when it comes to concerns about an unpredictable future. We all worry about regret and striking a balance between living in the now and preparing for the future. Do we quit our jobs and go traveling (as so many magazines seem to say others have done successfully)? Do we settle down now and try to build a deposit fund? Do we focus on our careers?
Quash it! Uncertainty is a part of life. While we may have been brought up to fear it, we should really embrace it as much as we can. Admittedly, the unknown is a scary place. But no one can predict the future. Why waste energy psyching yourself out?
As Eckhart Tolle said, “Worry pretends to be necessary but serves no useful purpose.” Every time we use the present to stress about the future, we’re choosing to sacrifice joy today to mourn joy we might not have tomorrow. We should embrace uncertainty in spontaneous, exhilarating, wondrous awe.
We’re so focused on getting to that next stage, that next step, that next monetary goal, or that next career level, we forget to enjoy the journey. We forget to enjoy the vivid dance that life is!
Scarlett Dixon is a U.K.–based journalist, lifestyle blogger, and YouTuber who runs networking events in London for bloggers and social media experts. She has a keen interest in speaking out about anything that might be deemed taboo and a lengthy bucket list. She’s also a keen traveler and passionate about sharing the message that IBS doesn’t have to hold you back in life! Visit her website and tweet her @Scarlett_London.