Mental Health Month: Millennials are the Most Stressed Generation

As Mental Health Month comes to a close, we’re focusing on stress. When it comes to stress management and wellness, Millennials are challenged by stress and a lack of support.

Findings from Stress in America™: Missing the Health Care Connection, which was conducted online by Harris Interactive among 2,020 U.S. adults in August of 2012, suggest Millennials (age 18-33) in particular seem to have trouble managing their stress and getting health care that meets their needs.

The Stress in America survey found Millennials reporting an average stress level of 5.4 on a 10-point scale, exceeding the national average (4.9). Across generations, Stress in America™ survey findings show that our ability to manage stress and achieve healthy lifestyles varies by age. Younger Americans report experiencing the most stress and the least relief —they report higher stress levels than older generations and say they are not managing it well.

The Millennial generation also gives its health care lower marks than Americans across the country. Millennials are less likely than people nationwide to give their health care an “A” grade (25 percent versus 31 percent). Nearly half of Millennials (49 percent) do not believe or are not sure that they are doing enough to manage their stress, and few say they get stress or behavior management support from their health care provider. Only 23 percent think that their health care provider supports them a “lot or a great deal” in their desire to make healthy lifestyle and behavior changes, and just 17 percent say the same about their health care providers’ support for stress management.

Both Millennials and Gen Xers report an average stress level of 5.4 on a 10-point scale where 1 is “little or no stress” and 10 is “a great deal of stress,” far higher than Boomers’ average stress level of 4.7 and Matures’ average stress level of 3.7.

All generations say they experience stress at levels higher than they believe is healthy, but Matures are closest to bringing their stress levels in line with their definition of a healthy stress level. The difference between Matures’ stress levels and their perception of healthy stress is 0.7 points, compared with 1.4 points for Millennials, 1.6 points for Gen Xers and 1.3 points for Boomers.

So what can you do to reduce stress?

  • Identify the cause. You may find that your stress arises from something that’s easy to correct. A psychologist can help you define and analyze these stressors, and develop action plans for dealing with them.
  • Monitor your moods. If you feed stressed during the day, write down what caused it along with your thoughts and moods.
  • Make time for yourself at least two or three times a week. Even ten minutes a day of “me time” can help refresh your outlook and slow down your body’s stress response systems. Turn off the phone, spend time alone, exercise or listen to music.
  • Walk away when you’re angry. Before you react, take time to mentally regroup by counting to 10. Then, look at the situation again. Walking our other physical activities will also help you work off steam.
  • Analyze your schedule. Assess your priorities and delegate whatever tasks you can. Eliminate tasks that are “shoulds” but not “musts.”
  • Set reasonable standards for yourself and others. Don’t expect perfection.

To learn more about the Stress in America survey, visit the APA website.

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