In fact, our generation has witnessed the highest stress level among all generations. Recent studies have shown that high school students today have the same anxiety levels as insane asylum mental patients during the 1950’s.
Our generation strives so hard to stand out, both at work and at home, in an attempt to be noticed in the highly competitive environment that we live in. Suddenly, attaining a comfortable living is not such an easy task. We work hard to be able to hold everything together and push ourselves to and beyond our limits and this has taken its toll greatly on us.
The amount of information that we now acquire by the time we are twenty is probably more information than previous generations could learn in a lifetime. With the widespread access of information through the internet, TVs, mainstream and social media, we are bombarded with a lot of information, sometimes more than we need or can handle. This keeps our brains constantly thinking and reading and analyzing, which increases our anxiety levels, causes less hours of sleep (or insomnia) and keeps us edgy and irritated.
The change that we have witnessed over the last decade, no matter how incredible, has become overwhelming. The struggles that we have to encounter every day has made us wiser than a 70-year-old man. The experiences that we go through on such a hurried pace have wrinkled our brains and shattered out nerves.
Additionally, we no longer care as much about lively interactions such as building and sustaining friendships and engaging in conversations if these interactions would take us out of our way. Friendships before used to last decades, and even if it didn't, people would still care about childhood friends and would always try to reconnect with them. An average friendship for our generation lasts around three years. Even so, if I compare the value of friends or acquaintances between my dad or grandfather with myself, I find that they would get excited to hear news about childhood friends whereas I couldn't care less about where my school friends are now.
"Burn-out is a disorder of hope. It sucks the life out of competent, hard-working people. You lose motivation and vitality,’ says Dr Borysenko, a Harvard-trained scientist and psychologist. ‘Productivity rises with stress, but only to a certain point. When you’re stressed, you chase the same old carrot, whatever that might be for you. After that, you find yourself in the land of diminishing returns. You’re working harder, but getting less quality work done. That’s when burn-out sets in.’
The amount of work that we have to get done is no longer just 40 hours a week. Between work and home, we are working almost all of awaken time, including over meals. According to Spanish researchers, working for more than 40 hours a week leaves people six times more likely to suffer long-term exhaustion, irritability and a lack of interest in their work and non-work lives.
Personally, I believe that it is true. Our generation has become less interested in nurturing hobbies, engaging in social interactions or even keeping up with their families. Our generation has so much crammed on their plates, from schoolwork (homework, exams) to maintaining relationships due to social pressures, to workplace pressures (finding internships, gaining experience, finding a stable job and managing financials).
We feel that we need to be good at and know about everything in order to have a competitive advantage at work and even at personal relationships. We have to present a well-rounded package to society in order to survive.
So what can we do to ease the situation? Obviously, the fast pace of technology is unavoidable. However, we need to learn to pace ourselves in order to avoid information overload. We need to learn that we do not have to and cannot acquire all the knowledge in the world and accept the fact that no matter how much we try, there will be somethings that we are not good at.
More importantly, we need to start showing some compassion towards each other. We have to support each other through these struggles instead of pretending that we have it all together. We need to learn to deal with the hidden social pressure of being perfect.