By NJ Goldston
Stress levels have spiked sharply in the past year. If you’re feeling anxious, you’re not alone. The result of an onslaught of social media along with worries over financial stability, political issues, and health concerns, we are all living in an unprecedented era of never-ending multi-tasking and social interaction. It can often feel like a suffocating stranglehold.
According to new findings and research from the American Psychiatric Association (APA) millennials are currently the most anxious generation in decades followed by Boomers and Generation Zers. The survey also revealed women were more anxious than men.
Dr. Deepika Chopra, optimism doctor, who researches and helps clients and corporations around the world to increase their personal ‘Optimism Factor’ described it best explaining, “Our modern society is constantly swiping left and right between way too many open tabs on our smart phones and our minds switching between so many different kinds of screens all day without even being conscious of it. We compulsively check numerous social media accounts and our fingers move so fast typing away sending off words and emojis faster than we can even figure out what we are intending to say. It’s no wonder the millennial generation, who is the most tech savvy, is also the most anxious in human history.”
Referencing the same APA research, Dr. Chopra added, “More shocking, is that studies show that about 86% of millennials are having some sort of quarter life crisis and the vast majority of twenty to thirty year olds believe they are not successfully living a satisfactory life. Social media pressures and a false sense of success, the over abundance of choice, overly-multi tasking, a difficult job market, student debt and psychological issues are all factors that can answer why this generation is so overloaded with anxiety, stress and depression.”
This reality has started a whole new cottage industry devoted to helping millennials and boomers. The Founder of the Happy Not Perfect application and ecommerce platform, British entrepreneur Poppy Jamie who is a member of the 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30 list, kicked off her career while studying at the London School of Economics. After graduating Jamie became the youngest television host at ITN, moved to Los Angeles to work with MTV, and later launched Pillow Talk with Poppy, Snapchat’s first chat show.
Jamie started her entrepreneurial journey after suffering stress and anxiety herself. Working with her mother, a psychotherapist, Jamie realized there were very few outlets offering relief and felt something like Happy Not Perfect needed to exist so the mental well being of an anxious generation could be helped.
Jamie detailed the origins of the millennial anxiety conundrum she and an entire generation are facing by acknowledging, “Technology interrupted and changed the entire way we live from the expression of our identity to the underlying social fabric of society. The world has changed so quickly and we are in a painful process of adapting. We grew up in a world with 5 TV channels and knowing about the lives of a small amount of people. We were forced to have mindful moments when we sat and waited for a bus, nothing to distract us. Suddenly, overnight, we were handed the most addictive accessory ever created, firing information, to do lists, and messages around the clock while simultaneously playing with our emotions, desire for social acceptance, and unending social comparisons. We are not only fearful of our future on a macro level with the news being worrisome everyday but on a personal level. Can we live up to our Instagram persona, or live up to the filtered life of our friends?”
Currently the youngest board member of the Resnic Neuropychiatric Hospital Advisory Board at UCLA, Jamie shares her five burn-out busting tips. Each one is designed to break the anxiety cycle many millennials are experiencing today.
- Belly Breath For 1 Minute. Working with Dr. Belisa Vranich, one of the world leading experts in breathing, Jamie noted that 9 out of 10 people breathe badly (shallow, chest breaths) and this significantly impacts our stress and anxiety levels. Learning to belly breathe (breathing into your lower body) stimulates your vagus nerve, helping you move out of the fight and flight system into the rest and relax system. Belly breathing takes advantage of biofeedback and starts using your body to fire signals to your mind that you’re safe and can handle this. The best part is the belly breathing trick is something you can do anywhere, anytime. Jaime acknowledged she secretly uses the belly breath technique through all of her stressful meetings allowing her to calm her mind and make better decisions.
- Journal Your Thoughts. Sound familiar? Jamie advises,“When we feel stressed and anxious, the emotional part of the mind is usually in overdrive. Our monkey mind is chattering all sorts of nonsense and we feel overwhelmed and out of control. Journaling your thoughts starts activating your pre-frontal cortex (the CEO like part of the brain… rational thinking) and in doing so, this helps to calm the amygdala (emotional centre). ” This led Jamie to specifically design an area of the app to allow users to journal their thoughts and then burn them straight away to feel and see the release. The Happy Not Perfect entrepreneur added, “When we’re feeling anxious, the brain believes we’re in some sort of danger. Journaling really helps process and realign thoughts, helping you to gain perspective and clarity. A problem shared is a problem halved.”
- Write A Gratitude Diary. Getting very personal, Jamie talked about how over the past few years she “had really suffered from anxiety and have often felt stressed and burnt out. Writing a gratitude diary daily really helped me. It’s easy to become stuck in thought loops of: I’m exhausted, useless, fearful, worried, stressed etc. Writing a gratitude diary helps shift the perspective and not only have studies found gratitude effects the production of happy hormones, it helps you to practice and develop a positive mindset too.”
- Think About How You Can Help Someone Else. This tip helps you focus on things outside your own sphere. When we’re stressed, anxious and burnt out, it’s very easy to think about ourselves because we’re struggling. A trick that’s really helped Jaime is when she asks herself, “If I’ve thought about anyone else today? Have I made anyone else’s day better? In the app, the vibes function is a moment when you’re encouraged to think, who could I send a positive note to, to help them?”
- Exercise. Always worth repeating is the mental benefits of exercise. Walking or working out to clear your head is medicinal by moving your body. The body NEEDS to move when you’re feeling anxious, stressed or burnt out. Exercise or even light walking especially in the morning or as an important office break helps stimulate endorphins and feel good hormones.You find a better headspace and it’s a surefire stress buster.
There is a positive in all of this. Dr. Chopra summed it up stating, “We live in a very exciting time full of opportunity and vast connection but, this also comes at a very hefty cost, a cost that is causing a lot of wear and tear on our psyches.” Jamie advises the best way to change things is a daily refresh. So go ahead, breathe.
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This content was originally published by Forbes Magazine. Original publishers retain all rights. It appears here for a limited time before automated archiving. By Forbes Magazine