America is in the midst of a loneliness epidemic, and Gen Z individuals are particularly at risk of this loneliness and the stress that comes with it. In fact, a nationwide survey performed by Cigna revealed that almost half of the respondents feel loneliness, with 43% of participants stating that they experience feelings of isolation. Additionally, one in four respondents stated that they feel misunderstood which contributes to their feelings of isolation.
Certain generations have historically experienced loneliness more — or, at least differently than others. Gen Z, (individuals born from 1997 through the early 2000s), reported they feel lonely most often. Researchers hypothesized that these feelings are generated by the increased use of social media, the heightened focus on work and productivity, and the practice of living far away from family. Together, these situations may all contribute to the loneliness that Gen Z in particular, experience.
To better manage the stress that comes with this solitude, it’s important for Gen Z individuals to understand the factors that are contributing to their loneliness.
Here are 3 key ways Gen Z can manage stress:
1. Social Media and Technology
Gen Z individuals grew up alongside social media and new technologies. But despite the familiarity since birth, these elements are said to have an adverse effect on their stress and mental health. For example, Gen Z individuals may feel like their parents and families are glued to their phones, and don’t spend time with them. When groups of friends get together, looking at devices or taking photos to share on social media, rather than socializing is common.
Meanwhile, digital marketers are using branding trends to reach Gen Z individuals on social media, where they spend so much of their time. However, these brands and influencers establish a connection or relationship with their audiences that often feels false. Still, the Gen Z audience can feel pressure from their favourite brands. Whether that’s pressure to buy products, fit in with the crowd, or live exciting lives like the various influencers they follow on Instagram. These lives are rarely as they’re portrayed, however, they contribute to an unrealistic idea of what the “perfect life” should be.
It’s for these reasons and more that social media platforms can contribute to depression. To combat stress and the alienating nature of social media, Gen Z individuals need to find ways to step away from these platforms. Setting a timer and limiting daily social media usage can help. Turning off push notifications on their phone can allow them to enjoy time away from social media without interruption. Avoiding these platforms before bedtime can also help to contribute to a better night’s sleep.
2. Gen Z & Financial Stress
On top of feeling like they don’t get enough genuine social and physical interaction on a regular basis, Gen Z reportedly faces a number of other growing concerns that are leading to higher stress levels. As they enter higher education, the workforce, and start their own families, financial worries, in particular, are a source of stress for many people. But they can be particularly troublesome for Gen Z. A few of the predominant financial stresses experienced by Gen Z include:
- Student loans
- Health care
- Saving money
- Finding a job
- Credit card debt
- Car expenses
- The housing market
There is also a big possibility that such financial worries aren’t helping Gen Z’s loneliness epidemic. With all these concerns at the back of their minds, this generation is less likely to go out with friends, travel to visit family or enjoy a healthy work-life balance. Especially with low wages and good jobs being harder to find. Despite work-life balance being incredibly important to Gen Z, a lot of jobs aren’t willing to compromise. Furthermore, people work freelance or gig-jobs, which don’t allow for much free time to socialize and make new friends.
With this in mind, learning to live frugally and stick to a budget can help Gen Z feel more in control of their finances. There are many ways that Gen Z members can save money while still enjoying social activities. Couponing or signing up for emails are good ways to receive discounts and save money.
There are also ways to enjoy entertainment on a budget. Rather than going out to the movies, try hosting movie nights at home. When going to concerts, opting for seats in the back of the hall can save a lot of money too!
3. Adopting Stress Management Techniques
Stress is always present in life, and it is very important to learn how to manage stress. Adopting stress management techniques can allow you to maintain a healthy social life, work-life balance, etc. This population can benefit from learning some tried-and-true stress management techniques, like meditating, praying, or repeating positive affirmations throughout the day.
The combination of loneliness and stress can be taxing, and some people may benefit from professional counselling. This may be able to help them identify the best management techniques and lifestyle changes necessary to obtain happiness. By finding ways to better connect with others, Gen Z members may enjoy reduced stress and a more rewarding life.