If you’re a member of Gen-Z, you are most likely quite familiar with the feeling of anxiety — many of you may even think of anxiety as a common (though unwanted) companion in your daily life. But why does anxiety feel like such a normal part of life for Gen-Z members, and why does it seem like everyone you know who is a part of the generation has anxiety of some sort?
Realistically speaking, it is unlikely that every single person born between the mid-1990s and the early-2010s has anxiety. However, many studies show that the younger generations are reporting much higher levels of anxiety and depression than previous generations have.
Why is this the case? In reality, there are numerous factors that go into the rise in anxiety levels in younger generations, but
The Constant State of Worry
This uptake in mental awareness and reporting stems from a number of reasons, but when it comes to Gen-Z, one of the most important factors to consider is the overload of information that we face each day. Most members of Gen-Z either remember very little or nothing about life before having constant access to information and reporting on what is going on in the world around them.
Whether it is a news report of a mass shooting in a nearby city or a weather forecast that warns us about dangerous air quality as wildfires continue to rage, there is always something plaguing our thoughts. The constant access to media channels of all varieties has made it too easy to get caught up in story after story. And when you do finally manage to stop scrolling through the news, chances are you will see much of the same information (or new, but still anxiety-inducing information) on your social media pages as well. Even if someone manages to only briefly engage with social media, they will still be unable to escape the reality of the world around them. A world where they need to find a way to make space for themselves in a world where the cost of living is ever-rising, but the wages they make remain constant.
Put simply, for many Gen-Z individuals, anxiety is unavoidable because no matter where they turn — whether it be to social media, their apartments, or even a local park or community building — there is a considerable stressor staring them in the face.
Common Sparks for Gen-Z Anxiety
As mentioned above, there are a variety of factors that can cause mental health concerns for members of Gen-Z. What specific topics or areas of life cause someone to experience anxiety will differ depending on their particular worries and goals in life. However, there are a few common culprits when it comes to anxiety for this generation that can help both members of Gen-Z and loved ones who are a part of other generations to see where their worries stem from.
Below, we will briefly explore some of the most common reasons why members of Gen-Z experience anxiety. Keep in mind, however, that there are many other reasons why you or a loved one may feel anxious that still contribute to the constant state of worry that we mentioned earlier.
Now, without further ado, here are some of the most common reasons for anxiety in Gen-Z individuals.
- Uncertainty about work, income, housing, debt, or other economic stability concerns.
- Information overload from constant access to social media, news, and other inputs.
- Influencer culture and curated social media skewing the expectations of how life “should be.”
- Academic stress such as:
- maintaining high grades,
- taking placement or “AP” tests
- participating in sports and other extracurricular activities, and
- obtaining scholarships.
- Body dissatisfaction or low self-esteem caused and fueled by the unrealistic beauty standards perpetuated by media and influencer culture.
- Stress caused by current events such as:
- climate change (for example, widespread wildfires, depletion of natural resources, and melting ice caps),
- sexual assaults,
- school shootings,
- families of immigrants being separated, and
- the COVID-19 pandemic.
- A lack of in-person relationships and interactions — in other words, too many virtual connections (without enough in-person connections) that lack the necessary emotional and tactile comfort in-person connections provide.
- The need to keep up with high social expectations leading to burnout, social exhaustion, performance anxiety, or imposter syndrome.
How to Cope with This Ever-Present Anxiety
While, as young members of society, there is not much many Gen-Z members can do (at least at an individual level) to address some of the larger stressors they face, there are still ways that individuals suffering from anxiety can better cope with the world and challenges around them.
Cultivate Fulfilling Relationships
Having the ability to stay in touch with people over long distances and being able to easily connect with friends online can be an excellent way to keep friendships alive as you go through busy periods in your life. But, it is important to realize that virtual connections do not provide the same level of emotional benefit or fulfillment as in-person connections do.
This is to say that if you want to ensure that you are getting the fulfillment you need from your relationships, you will need to ensure that you are working on cultivating relationships that offer in-person connections as well.
Filter Your Information
We know that it is not realistic (or particularly a good idea) to cut out all sources of media and information about what is going on around you. The news and social media are great ways to raise awareness about what is happening in the world, but it is important to realize that, at a certain point, too much information causes more harm than good.
If you are constantly bombarding yourself with all of the things that are happening around you — especially if most of that information is stressful, sad, or otherwise upsetting — you will quickly begin feeling trapped beneath all of it.
So, rather than trying to keep up to date with everything as it happens, try to schedule a specific time when you can check in with current events. This could be in the morning, during your lunch break, in the evening, or anywhere in between. The goal is simply to limit the amount of time (and times of day) that you start scrolling through the endless information. This can help you to not overwhelm yourself without giving up on knowing what is going on around you.
Take Care of Your Body
While it may not seem like taking care of your physical body would be able to help you manage your anxiety, in reality, it can be a very powerful tool. Ensuring that you are getting enough rest, eating nutritious meals, and exercising regularly can be one of the best ways to not only keep yourself healthy but also help you learn to better regulate your anxieties as well.
When it comes to physical activity, it is important to start at the level that you are right now. If you are coming from a place of low activity, try starting out with a walk or short exercise session. This will help you gain the benefits of exercising without causing you to feel too worn out from it to continue making it a habit.
Seek Professional Guidance
Sometimes, it may feel like there is no possible way to overcome the anxiety you feel in your life. Perhaps you have already tried implementing healthy habits and cutting down on the amount of media you consume each day, but you are still plagued with feelings of seemingly constant anxiety. Or maybe you are simply looking for a more personalized approach or guidance on how you can work through your anxieties. In either of these cases, you may want to consider seeking professional help from a therapist or counselor.
Working individually with a therapist can help you not only identify the roots and triggers for your anxieties but also learn how you can manage them healthily and move forward with your life. So, if you have tried all you can think about to relieve your anxiety on your own and are looking for additional guidance, please do not hesitate to reach out to us today at Love Heal Grow to schedule an appointment with one of our therapists.