I was walking to work (yes I'm still managing to walk to and from work which is shocking!!!) listening to the CALL YOUR GIRLFRIEND podcast (shoutout to my girl Justina) when the interesting topic of rising anxiety numbers in millennial's came up. Just to let you know - I am currently 20 tabs deep in the internet jungle while writing this, reviewing research and blogs on this topic and it's kind of scary.
It's fairly well documented that the mental health concerns of depression and anxiety are at an all time high in millennial's. In New York magazine a few weeks ago, Dr. Jean Twenge , a social psychologist at San Diego State University who is the author of Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled—and More Miserable Than Ever Before. offered an explanation for why anxiety among young people is at an 80-year high .
Several theories exist on why we're seeing these rates increase, and interestingly it's also during a time in which we as a society are the most outspoken on mental health awareness.
Twenge thinks the primary problem is that “modern life doesn’t give us as many opportunities to spend time with people and connect with them, at least in person, compared to, say, 80 years ago or 100 years ago. Families are smaller, the divorce rate is higher, people get married much later in life.”
The important argument of connectivity vs loneliness plays a big role for me when I think about the huge changes in communication and social media that new generations are facing. We are in this weird time where we are more connected than ever, but also struggling with these new overwhelming feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and FOMO. For whatever reason, the shift away from this sort of life has also brought with it a shift in values, and Twenge thinks that this, too, can account for the increase in anxiety and depression.
“There’s clear evidence that the focus on money, fame, and imagehas gone up,” she said, referring to various surveys that have been conducted over the decades in which young people are asked about their goals and values, “and there’s also clear evidence that people who focus on money, fame, and image are more likely to be depressed and anxious.”
Essentially in the words of the late Notorious B.I.G, Mo money, Mo problems (or just THINKING about mo money = MO PROBLEMS).
On a more positive note, we're seeing an increase of creative resources and coping tools for anxiety sufferers popping up. One of my personal favourites has to be the Baker Miller Pink Hoodie which is essentially a super cool looking pink hoodie/strightjacket that has been scientifically engineered to CHILL YOU OUT. It kind of reminds me of those dog and cat jackets that apply gentle consistent pressure (like a hug!) over your furry friends's chest to help reduce anxiety.
According to their website: "Fusing colour theory and physiology, the hoodie enhances your parasympathetic nervous system’s ability to help you rest and recover before and after sport. It floods your entire field of vision with pink to reduce your heart rate. A mesh visor is engineered to slow your breathing. Deep (asymmetrical) Sling Pockets lower your oxygen consumption. And it comes with its own soundtrack composed from elements of pink noise to regulate your brainwaves.
The hoodie also performs like a second skin to help you relax in the harshest environments, combining deep cushioning, water resistance and thermal insulation."
I'm not sure what kind of reaction I would get from passer-by's if I was seen peering out of my one-way visor giving myself a nice juicy hug while heavily deep breathing. Regardless, I think the concept is really interesting!
Also noteworthy is the emerging trend of online courses for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy training and smart phone apps such as:
Lastly, there are always local treatment options. If you or someone you love suffers from anxiety or depression in the GTA and are looking for a treatment centre there is an amazing clinic called The Spark Institute that focuses on holistic mental health. It was founded by two of my close personal friends and fellow ND's Dr. Natalie Mulligan and Dr. Stacey Goldman.
Sending you all a BIG VIRTUAL PINK HUG,
Questions? Comments? Collaboration ideas? Let's chat!
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