I have seen such an increase of young adults suffering from anxiety and depression. Lately my clientele, presenting with signs of anxiety and depression, range from as young as 14 years old and up to 25 years. Their specific stories may be different but the common thread is that they are not coping with the pressure of life, study and self expectation as well as family expectations. The greatest problem is, believe it or not, “self expectation”.
Why on earth are our young being burdened with such a terrible affliction? We traditionally don’t suffer from this till much later in our lives but now it’s becoming younger and younger. There are many factors that to contribute to this; I’ll touch on some of these now.
Affluent society We live in a rather affluent society and, whilst we do have a variety of income levels, we all generally can receive an income. I don’t want to get bogged down in this but generally speaking when things are good we are not really stretched and we don’t hear stories of adversity, such as past war stories from immigrants who have worked their butt off to feed, house and educate themselves and children. So we lead a somewhat comfortable life. The pressure that goes into exams, such as the HSC, is relatively and starkly noticeable in this otherwise comfortable community. It doesn’t matter if you are a hard worker or not the pressure is on everyone to be studying more, or that it is “expected” that they study.
Facebook/Instagram Don’t get me wrong, I think these are wonderful, but only if we realise that everything that is put up are our best shots, when we are having the ‘best’ time. We never post our laundry washing days and greasy hair, tracksuit pants days. So when you are getting a constant diet of this you may start to feel you’re not quite good enough and “why can’t I do this?”. It may lead you to sometimes feel excluded or that your life doesn’t seem to be exciting at all. This, for our younger generation, plays a much bigger problem than they think. It is important that either you limit your time or realise that this is a fake or at least carefully orchestrated selection of the “best”. New cars, holidays, jobs, restaurants etc… don’t be fooled.
University/further study We either know what we want to do, or have no idea, and base our decisions on what we “think” is best or perhaps start a course that we soon realise we actually hate. Let’s face it, whatever you study you’re now on your own and have to drive it all. You are now not being spoon-fed and your days have to be planned by yourself as well as for most trying to work and keep your life balance going. No body else is structuring this for you. It starts and ends with you. Let’s face it, not many people like first year out of school ( except maybe those on a gap year!).
Finding and starting a new job So either we come out of our courses feeling ready and knowing exactly where we want to go but again for most the daunting thought of making a decision that will effect the rest of your life is very overwhelming. Do you really like it? Was it fun studying but now you realise you don’t want to actually practice it? Do you feel you’ve wasted all those years? Its almost a mid-life crisis at the ripe old age of 21 or 22!
Even if you loved your course and are starting to apply for a wide range of jobs, you quickly realise that you are just a number, out of possibly many, applying for this job. How are you any different? How will you be noticed?
Expectations We have a certain expectation that we will easily achieve what we want to achieve in whatever field in our life but sometimes reality does not match our dreams. Do we expect too much, are we not realistic or do we not realise that we are nothing that special in a sea of many other applicants in the class, job or friendship pool? Setting goals is a great thing but setting expectations and staying ridged in that can cause heartbreak, anxiety and depression.
There are many things we can do to help with anxiety and we have touched on a few above. Everyone may need to act in different ways to overcoming anxiety/depression, so please seek help. A simple check-list of methods to get started is provided here;
7 THINGS YOU CAN TRY
1) Limit your time on any social media and spend some of that extra time reading, taking a bath, self grooming, visit a family member or volunteer for a charity.
2) Learn how to meditate, practice mindful exercise or learn to relax and re-set your adrenal glands with breathing slowly in, pause, out pause.
3) Make lists in your diary of things you need to do and prioritise them. Anxiety and depression can be caused by too many things going on in our mind, so list them and target when you will attend to them. This is a must for all.
4) Take time out to exercise and plan healthy meals. When you are physically healthier your mental state is without any doubt so much better.
5) Give love and friendship. Sometimes we are too much in our own head and our own problems. By reaching out and showing love and thoughtfulness to others we get so much more in return.
6) Gratitude. Yes this is such an important thing. If you feel down its even more important to list and think about all the things we are grateful for.
7) Slow everything down. Don’t rush. Take a little extra time doing everything. Don’t over commit your time, use boundaries and learn how to sometimes say no.
These are just a few things. Try some or try them all. Write down your feelings by journalling so you can observe your thoughts and by doing that you detach yourself from the intensity of how you were feeling.
Life & Business Coach