For all of Generation Y’s #yolo posturing and whatevs attitude, Millennials are super-stressed out, yo! Like, they literally can’t even right now!!! A quick scroll on Tumblr of the hashtag #ILiterallyCan’tEven yields a not-so-surprisingly vast catalog of Millennials stressors — typically represented in the form of animated GIFs — that range from “Super-Kawaii Things That Stress Me Out Cuz They Are Just Too Damned Cute” to “Homework Is Hard and Stuff” to “Will I Ever Get a Job That’s Commensurate With My Education?”
Sure, today’s always-connected, always-on life can be stressful for everyone, obvs, but the stresses and circumstances of contemporary life are hitting Generation Y especially hard — and Millennials say they are not managing their stress very well. The Interwebs kinda sorta has been goin’ nuts lately over a recently released report, Stress in America, from the American Psychological Association. The APA survey found that among generations, Millennials are the most stressed, and not just because of reasons.
On a 10-point scale where 1 is “little to no stress” and 10 is “a great deal of stress,” respondents ages 18 to 33 reported an average stress level of 5.4, compared to the average stress level of 3.7 that was reported by happy-go-lucky Matures (peeps age 67 and older). According to the APA, so-called “healthy” stress levels are 4.0 and 3.0 for Millennials and Matures, respectively, thus the gulf between what’s considered healthy stress levels and reported stress levels is doubled for the youngest generation surveyed compared to the oldest.
Like Millennials, Gen X respondents also reported an average stress level of 5.4, but since we were raised as latch-key-kid slackers and we pretty much invented Emo, it’s probably NBD. Meanwhile, Boomers (peeps ages 48 to 66) reported an average stress level of 4.7, which isn’t that bad compared to younger generations, right?
So why all of the attention and fuss about stressed-out Millennials? While respondents across all generations reported experiencing higher stress levels than they believe is healthy and despite a modest-but-steady decline over the past few years in overall reported stress levels, Generation Y’s experience of stress is notable because of the relatively high percentage of Millennials who reported a higher, year-over-year increase in stress levels (39%) and the group’s ongoing struggle to effectively manage their stress.
The APA survey showed that work and finances were top stressors for Millennials and Gen Xers, while personal health and the health of family members most occupy the minds of Boomers and Matures. While 62% of Millennials reported that they’ve tried to reduce stress, 52% of them also reported that stress has kept them up at night. It seems that the younger generation is falling short of its goal to chillax.
Across generations, survey respondents reported exercising or walking as their preferred stress management technique, but Millennials and Gen Xers are more likely than Boomers and Matures to engage in unhealthy behaviors like unhealthy eating, drinking alcohol, and smoking to manage stress.
How exactly are Millennials managing their stress? An overwhelming majority, 59%, listen to music, while 46% said that they manage stress by spending time with friends or family, 36% said that they eat to relax, and 19% said that they shop to relieve stress.
Who can blame these over-educated and often under-employed Millennials for buggin’ a little, amirite? Generation Y might have been born during the prosperous, war-free Halcyon Days of the 1980s and early 1990s, but they came of age during times of seemingly endless economic, political, and social turmoil. And let’s not get started on how technology and today’s culture of #fomo has convinced an entire generation that they are totally missing out on the super-glamorous, care-free lives that they see on the carefully curated Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds of their friends and foes.
It’s enough to make you wanna binge-watch Netflix, while listening to Spotify and eating gluten-free donuts with a dozen or so of your closest friends and family.