Woman suffering from stress or a headache grimacing in pain
Woman suffering from stress or a headache grimacing in pain

Why millennials are seriously stressed

The generation that invented self-care has lost the instructions, with four in five young Australians admitting to feeling overwhelmed by the pressures of life.

Gone is the easygoing "Ferris Bueller" approach of the 1980s and faking a sickie for some time on the couch.

Instead, your modern-day millennial is more likely to be found faking their way through their "best life" while inwardly drowning in a sea of stress.

New research by supplements company Entity Health found 80 per cent of Australians under 40 reported feeling stressed at least once per week.

That figure progressively halves to 41 per cent for over 60s, hinting at the more frenetic pace - and pressures - of life for those with content to create and influencers to aspire to.

 

Young Aussies are finding it hard to deal with modern life, leaving them overwhelmed and stressed.
Young Aussies are finding it hard to deal with modern life, leaving them overwhelmed and stressed.


Four months away from the planned opening of his own hospitality venue, Sasha Fagan counts himself firmly among the fifth of Australians who feel stressed daily.

Mr Fagan said his own stress stemmed from having a "mountain of things to do all at once" ahead of the opening of Northbridge venue Barcadia.

But he said for many young people the source of elevated blood pressure could be found in their pockets.

"You're getting bombarded on social media by all these glamorous entrepreneurs in their 30s on yachts in the Maldives but it doesn't show them at 25 living in a small apartment eating takeaway pizza," he said.

"It makes people think they just need to go out and buy a MacBook and sit in a cafe taking photos of their lattes every day to be successful."

Juggling 30 hours of bar work with full-time study often leaves Danni (surname withheld) frazzled, the 24-year-old admitting to the occasional teary breakdown and feeling stressed two to three times a week on average.

 

Balancing work, study and money pressures is taking its toll on millennials.
Balancing work, study and money pressures is taking its toll on millennials.

Like many Millennials balancing work and study commitments, money is the primary trigger point for Danni's stress.

"Living out of home, running a car, buying what I need for uni, paying phone bills. I don't have a lot left to put away for emergencies or 'surprise' bills," she said.

The teacher-in-training credits yoga with making a huge difference to her life - but not $30 classes followed by smashed avo on toast. Danni instead relies on YouTube tutorials for her fix.

Perhaps bucking the sentiment of her peers, she also doesn't believe she is any worse off than her parents at the same age in terms of income or house prices, two common complaints for under 30s.

"I do think though that I don't have as much stability as my parents did at my age. My parents were both working full time for a business they own, had a mortgage and were expecting a baby at my age."

'NO ONE THEY REALLY TRUST'

Established a year ago in response to the growing epidemic, WA-based Stress Less Workshops aim to equip attendees - which include a growing number of high school kids and their teachers - with techniques that "break the stress cycle".

The daylong sessions are run by registered mental health nurse Jax Cordwell and spiritual medium Pam Goodwin, who attribute society's rising stress levels at least partly to the gradual degradation of the family unit.

"We have lost a lot of the support networks that used to exist when we lived in shared homes, or at least nearby to our grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins," Mrs Goodwin said.

"People tell us they have got no one they really trust they can talk to.

"A lot of times youngsters feel more comfortable talking to an aunty or grandparent because their own parents sometimes without meaning too are actually contributing to the stress they feel."

 

Stress can manifest into self-destructive behaviours.
Stress can manifest into self-destructive behaviours.

WAYS TO BEAT STRESS

Taryn Houghton, Executive Engagement with mental health support group Helping Minds, said stress was often perceived as a negative emotion but was actually healthy for short periods of time and in response to something that has occurred.

"But if we're feeling constantly stressed for extended periods of time, that is when we need to go and have a check-up and a chat with your GP," she said.

"As a community we need to shift our thinking when it comes to our mental health. When it comes to the flu you don't wait for six months before seeking treatment, and it shouldn't be any different if you're feeling stressed or anxious."

LA Fit pilates instructor Kaity Burmeister said she could relate to the 4.1 million Australians who feel stressed on a daily basis and that appearing busy was a badge of honour for many young people but had devastating mental health effects.

Many turn to classes just like hers - or similar fitness pursuits - as a means of drowning out the stress in the happier endorphins that accompany a post-workout glow.

"It's so funny because we all use this word self-care, and when you actually look at what self-care is, it's just become this hip word that everyone knows but no one knows what (it means)," Ms Burmeister said.

"I feel like we all just need to look into what we do that makes us happy."

That is a view likely to resonate with Ferris, the high school slacker who took a day off to cruise around in a 'borrowed' Ferrari, remarking in the famous flick: "Life moves pretty fast, if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."


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