The recent COVID-19 pandemic has been a catalyst for mental health issues among younger people, emphasizing pre-existing conditions faced by the Millennial generation (born 1981-1996) and Generation Z (born 1997-2012).
The Millennials, or Generation Y, grew up with the rise of technology and Gen Z is the first generation to grow up not knowing what it was like before the digital era. So it makes sense that these generations are often characterized as being constantly over-stimulated and as having short attention spans.
On a normal day, the blink of a screen turns heads away from the task at hand, making it difficult to re-orient and focus. Compound that with all of the extra time we now have due to the COVID-19 crisis, and we have generations of people not knowing what to do with their days. People are bored, so they turn to TikTok, “Animal Crossing,” Netflix and Instagram challenges. Nothing is wrong with this, however, in this context, it becomes a coping mechanism, and when done for days on end, it becomes less fun.
Usually, people are begging for a day off so they can relax at home, but now that we are forced to do so, all we want is our normal lives back. Why is that? Why are we so uncomfortable with sitting in stillness for once?
The problem is that Millennials and Gen Zers, in particular, are so used to this toxic hustle culture. When it has always been go, go, go, check Instagram, go, go, go; all your life, it can be a shock to the system to suddenly be stuck at home. Many of us finally have the time to be with our own thoughts, and this can manifest itself in some ugly ways for some.
It would only be ignorant to ignore the privilege that comes with the notion of “boredom” in the first place. People are dying, losing their jobs, living on the streets, worried they won’t be able to pay rent, risking their lives working on the front lines, and victimized by violent hate crimes. It is also important not to discredit the impact of this virus on the mental health of many young people.
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As a result of schools and universities being shut down, many graduating seniors have had their last several months in school taken away from them. Commencement, senior year plans, vacations, internships, jobs and much more are being stripped away, leaving them feeling like they have lost control of their lives. COVID-19 has thrown plans out the window. The uncertainty of not knowing when life will return to normal can cause anxiety, and being under quarantine for an indefinite amount of time can lead to feelings of loneliness, which can turn into depression.
Therefore, it is now, more than ever, that people should truly tune into themselves, acknowledge how they are genuinely feeling and address their feelings in a healthy way that makes sense to that individual. Here are some of the things I am doing to preserve my sanity during this trying time:
- Schedule virtual happy hours, workouts, movie marathons, or just check-ins with friends through video chat.
- Learn how to manage your finances, create a budget, and learn how to invest your money #adulting
- Learn a new skillset, program or language!
- Read more and create personal reading challenges. For example, read one book every two weeks.
- Get a side hustle and get that coin, baby!
- Make it a habit to meditate or do yoga.
- Cook or bake with your family!
Most of all, I want to urge everyone not to take this break for granted. This situation is unprecedented, so take advantage of it. Nurture your relationships with your significant other, friends and family. For those of us who live alone or are single, take this time to orient yourself towards your passion. Really dig deep, reflect, learn to embrace being alone in stillness. Prioritize your mental health and try to align how you spend your days with your goals and ultimately, your happiness.
Feature Image via @thiszun