As the world’s foremost Sunday Scaries expert, I feel the urge — no, the need — to weigh in on anything involving the anxiety of our generation. It’s what I was brought here to do. It’s why God put me on this beautiful green earth.
So, when I saw Forbes’ 8 Habits That Make Millennials Stressed, Anxious And Unproductive, I naturally had to give an immediate response. There’s a lot to cover, so let’s not dick around.
1. Bad sleep habits
Perhaps the most prevalent contributor to anxiety is poor sleep. A study by the University of California at Berkeley found that lack of sleep “may play a key role in ramping up the brain regions that contribute to excessive worrying.” Common causes of insufficient sleep include going to bed at different times, not making sleep a priority and spending time on phones or laptops right before bed.
I mean, what the hell am I supposed to do before I go to bed other than scroll Twitter and fall down Instagram wormholes? Read a book or something? Nah, I’m good.
Forbes suggests “forming a long, boring nighttime routine free from technology, keeping a journal by your bed to write down thoughts that keep you awake, and exercising during the day to wear out your body.” You know what would be keeping me awake? Writing in my fucking journal. I think I’m good.
2. Skipping sustenance
Eating consistently regulates not only our metabolism and insulin levels but also our mental stability.
I don’t know about you, but the only time I miss meals is if I’m deathly ill or getting hammered on a casual Saturday. Hell, you can barely stop me from munching on Kind bars in the break room on the hour, every hour. If anything, I need a lesson in portion control. This isn’t college anymore where people are scraping by on packets of Ramen. This is my late 20s when I can afford food I shouldn’t be eating, also known as Eggs Benedict.
3. Drinking coffee
Drinking coffee makes us more alert and, in many cases, helps us perform better on short-term tasks. But it can also make people jittery, irritable and nervous, especially if they’re already predisposed to anxiety. Sensitivity to caffeine is, in fact, heightened in people with panic disorder and social phobia, and caffeine can provoke panic attacks in some individuals. Caffeine is also diuretic, which can cause dehydration—an anxiety trigger established above.
Yo, this is real. Just the other day, our fridge got stocked with a giant bottle of Starbucks Iced Coffee (I can drink Starbucks products if I don’t ever enter the establishment, everyone knows that). And before I knew it, I was sitting at my desk, just wired out of my mind unable to type a column because all my creativity was taken over by the inherent need to do something analytical. I legit thought someone snuck adderall into my Yeti when I went to the bathroom.
America’s surge of anxiety symptoms parallels our increasingly sedentary lifestyles. But, until a recent review by BMC Public Health, it was unclear whether the two were actually linked. After lengthy analysis, researchers found that the risk of anxiety risk increases as sedentary behavior increases—and, specifically, sitting time spikes one’s likelihood of experiencing anxiety.
I respect people with standing desks, but there’s not a chance in hell I’d be caught dead at one. What am I supposed to do when I’m hungover? Sit on the ground Indian-style with my lappie on the ground? Having a standup desk is putting your entire body of work on a literal pedestal, which is something I can’t do considering I spent 20 minutes looking at Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue photos yesterday on Reddit.
5. Your phone
A 2014 study by Baylor University found that American students spend an average of nine hours a day on their phone. Of course, technology vastly improves our lives in innumerable ways. But too much of it makes us anxious. Screen-based entertainment increases central nervous system arousal, which can amplify anxiety. Social media is similarly associated with low moods and depression.
Without my phone, my anxiety would be through the damn roof. Most of the time, I’m tits deep in a group text trying to make sure everyone still likes me. Or I’m tossing up a Sunday Instagram for further assurance that people still like me strictly based on them liking my photo.
Sitting in silence just isn’t for me. I need to constantly have friends at my fingertips, and I need to constantly fall asleep with the TV on. That’s just a fact of life.
6. Not “clocking out”
According to data from FORBES’ @Work State of Mind Project, millennials become anxious and irritated when work intrudes on our personal lives. But our bad work-life balance is our own choosing. BDA’s assessment explains, “Millennials do not believe that productivity should be measured by the number of hours worked at the office, but by the output of the work performed. They view work as a ‘thing’ and not a ‘place.’” Even after we leave the office, we’re still at work.
Clearly I’m always clocked in because content never sleeps, but at my last job? When I’d clock out, I’d clock out. I’d go as far as to log out of my business email in case I got a message that could possibly ruin my night. It was nothing personal, but I’m not trying to grind and watch New Girl all at once. Multitasking isn’t my forte, so neither is mixing biz with pleasure.
7. Netflix and chilling
You may think snuggling up on the couch and watching a movie will help you unwind, but research disproves this trend.
In one study, participants felt more depressed and anxious after watching just two hours of TV than those who didn’t. Another study found that those with anxiety and depression spend significantly more time on the computer and watching television. While resting reduces anxiety short-term, research reveals that its effect is short lived, particularly compared with exercise.
Leave it to Forbes to use the phrase “Netflix and chilling” months after the phrase died forever. But I digress.
This is possibly the worst on the list. If you get anxiety after watching eight straight episodes of Happy Endings on Hulu, there’s something wrong with you. Not with Happy Endings. Again, what else am I supposed to do when I’m trying to wind down at night? Not watch two hours of television? It’s 2016, not 1930. Pass me the ‘mote and let me do me.
8. Hanging out with anxious people
You might feel like you’ve found someone you can vent to who understands you, but studies show that ruminating on anxiety often makes it worse. Furthermore, participating in “intergroup anxiety” increases one’s anxious behaviors.
When it comes to the Sunday Scaries, contributor Old Man Body once said, “If we’re all Scared collectively, we’re less Scared individually. It’s science.” And if you can’t get onboard with that, then I suggest you see yourself out. .
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