I am Gen Z and I’m stressed out.
It’s a fact that older generations tend to lump anyone younger than them as millennials. But I’m here to tell you that this is wrong. Gen Z is totally different than millennials, and the sooner that everyone gets on board about this, maybe the sooner people in my generation can begin digging themselves from under the stress blanket we seem to live in.
For those of you who don’t know, Gen Z is the group born from 1997 and on. Being a part of this generation means to know only a world that is connected online. Maybe this is why some call us the iGeneration or iGen. I absolutely cannot imagine the internet not existing, nor can I imagine there not being smartphones or selfies, but I know that there was a time when people were a lot less connected, and I can’t help but wonder, did the people who grew up in that world have as much stress as I do?
I’m in my second year of college, and I’m surrounded by peers who prize individuality and authenticity and who spend a lot of time online trying to “connect” with others. I am no exception. In my observation and in my own experience, I think that because we spend so much time focused on things like social media and trying to be different but also be our true selves that we’ve become a very lonely generation. And ultimately, this loneliness is a contributing factor to our seemingly never-ending stress.
In talking with friends and peers, I’ve learned that most are dealing with some kind of mental health issue, whether it’s a mild or hard case. Some are depressed, some have bouts of sadness for no apparent reason, some have eating disorders, some have anxiety, and some are just so stressed out that they’ve begun to feel out of control which is leading to addictions to things like alcohol and drugs. What might be truly tragic about these facts is that everyone I spoke to joked around about their feelings. Even I’m guilty of doing this.
So, what else is causing our stress? Well, let’s start with gun violence. Nobody is immune from gun violence, and it’s becoming a horrible fact that our nation is becoming desensitized to mass shootings. Though we might be young, we are very aware of this growing problem, and it scares us. Are we safe sitting in our college classrooms? Our dorms? It’s unknown. But what I do know is that many of us are getting involved in social and political activism. We want to make a change, but even getting involved causes a level of stress.
Speaking of the political climate, this brings me to the issue of constantly monitoring the news. I’m always reading the news, but maybe this is because I’m always on social media and the current issues of our nation are peppered throughout social media so I can’t help but read it. Whether it’s news about politics, climate change, natural disasters, the economy, or assaults, I read about it, and yes, it causes me stress. My older sister is in the Generation X category, and I remember her telling me that when she was my age that she never read or watched the news and that the only things she was stressed about were her grades and getting a decent job after graduation. Thinking back to that conversation, I’m very jealous. I wish I only worried about my grades.
There is some good news. Many Gen Zers are open about their mental health issues, and many are seeking help. Acknowledging that they are struggling is a good thing because it’s a great first step to getting help. If we don’t get help, I’m fearful that suicide rates will continue to increase. But what does “getting help” mean? Well, of course, there’s getting professional help. However, we can also help ourselves by making some changes in our lives. If you’re feeling stressed, consider these tips: