Looking at our millennials (who comprised about 70%) in Healthy Options and at my own millennial children, I couldn’t help but compare their lives and experiences with mine at their age. Economically, medically, and technologically, their world today is far more advanced and sophisticated than mine. But growing up, I didn’t know the word stress.
I recall life being simple. In grade school, I walked several miles to school every day. If it rained, I got wet. We never had a family holiday. There were no malls to go to. The highlight of our weekends would be my parents taking my brothers (three of us) to a Chinese restaurant in Ongpin. The following week, it would be the turn of my two sisters. This alternate schedule was my father’s brilliant solution so we could all fit in a kalesa. My parents never had a car. I was thirteen years old when my father bought a black & white television set. It was the happiest day of my life.
Looking back, the only stress I felt was during exams time and doing my homework. But once that was done, I was allowed to go out and play with my friends. “Out” means the streets of Quiapo. Although we had a black rotary phone, I don’t recall ever using it to call anyone. If I wanted to go see my friends, I just go and show up at their homes.
Today, millennials are full of angst and stress, much more so than my generation. I’m sure they also face similar problems growing up (aka puberty turmoil) as I did, but technology and especially social media have made them feel much more anxious and inadequate.
According to psychologists, one of the chief contributors to social media-related stress is people’s tendency to compare themselves to others. Receiving constant updates from friends and family, (or worse, celebrities) showcasing how “perfect” their life is can cause feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, stressed or even depression as they worry that their life isn’t as exciting or that they haven’t accomplished as much as their peers. Indeed, for some people, trying to improve their online image can become an all-consuming process, sorting through hundreds of selfies and photos, agonizing over which ones to post online.
So how do you keep social media from stressing you out? Psychology Today recommends that you start by candidly assessing the way you use social media. Are you constantly comparing your life to what you see in others’ pictures and statuses? Do you worry about your social media image or spend hours trying to find something “good” to post? Paying close attention to your feelings and the way you use social media can help you identify if there is a problem. Taking steps to limit your social media use can also make a big difference. And most importantly, realizing that none of the social media posts are real (i.e. they’re highly edited) will set you free.
So disconnect from technology and connect with each other face to face. HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Best of health,