Each generation reports their stress levels are higher than they consider healthy, regardless of age.
The highest stressed generation starts with our youngest, Gen Z, and then in ascending order of stress are the Millennials, Gen Xers, Boomers and then the Matures.
Is stress heating up your life, and are you concerned for your health?
The American Psychological Association (APA)1 and the Advisory Board2 did a study showing that stress levels are on the rise for all generations.
Rapidly cooling down your stress level is the main focus of this article. Reduce stress by recognizing its cause, by looking for symptoms, and taking action towards better health.
Here we are deliberately describing a unique perspective on stress.
Let’s start with an understanding of what stress means. Stress is a neutral word. It is an outside event pushing change or exerting pressure on us. The more we resist the external push, the higher we feel discomfort, which we internally interpret as stress-level. Our reaction makes a difference. External stress factors stop being neutral if your response to these factors is unhealthy.
Stress is how you react to any external event. Considering the rising trend of stress across every generation, gender, and socioeconomic segments of our culture, we looked for the primary causes of stress in our society which are causing higher levels of neurotoxicity and hormone imbalance beyond the usual mainstream discussed topics.
Consider These Major Causes of Stress With Suggestions
1. Interacting with Screens Instead of People
Putting technology “screens” between us and others is increasing our stress levels. The reduced level of intimacy produces an “empty calorie-effect.” We falsely believe we are connecting because we are communicating when we hear the voice of someone else. It is only a partial connection. Talking to a video screen, even with another person on the other end, doesn’t produce the full spectrum of hormones, neurotransmitters, and deep feelings of satisfaction that we need. We feel empty and crave more.
2. Like an addiction, this craving for real connection causes us to chase screens.
Spending more time doing so can cause us to retreat socially, with ever-decreasing face-time with others and more time surfing. There is a good reason we call it a screen. It screens us from real human connection. Evidence suggests that we pay a significant price by being “plugged into” a technologically driven world of constant distraction without an “off button” to recharge our nature. Our rising stress-levels are in some regards caused by our retreat from the natural world into a man-made environment.
SUGGESTION: Be intentional in the number of hours spent each day interacting in person with others. Spending more than one “fully present” hour with another is a step towards better health. It is important that the hour or more is with someone you find engaging, explorative, where both of you have an equal curiosity of one another and feel safe to be vulnerable. Generally, these are not co-workers, clients, nor family members.
We require face-to-face interaction with others to remain healthy. Hormones are produced when we talk with others, not screens. Mirror neurons in the brain are activated, neurotransmitters are stimulated, and our overall well-being is enhanced by being in the personal presence of another.
3. Living Out of Rhythm With Nature
Seasons have less influence on the physical activities of urban dwellers. Being less engaged with nature has caused us to lose the therapeutic advantages of the seasonal changes in our psyches. Sitting indoors has as much to do with our stress levels as the type of work itself. A sedentary work lifestyle plays havoc on the production of hormones and neurotransmitters. Our natural rhythm is challenged to find a healthy internal balance.
Each season is about twelve weeks. We are hormonally evolved to be in rhythm with seasonal cycles, rather than the same daily routine 365 days a year. Having our activities change with the cycles of nature is essential to our health. Stress caused by rhythmic cycles shows up at the end of each day with symptoms of depletion. Your brain feels drained of energy, mental depletion, thoughts become foggy, physical exhaustion. Coming home feeling this way once in a while is different than coming home feeling this way for months at a time. In this latter case, your stress is caused by being out of cycle with nature.
"The peaceful confidence you once had is taken away as one defeat overshadows your plentiful successes. As your brain examines and stores these negative images, experiences, and words it also drains itself by depleting your feel-good neurotransmitters, and increasing stress hormones, and worse, as you dwell on these negative events throughout your day your brain continues to drain."- Mike Dow, Heal Your Drained Brain
SUGGESTION: Be intentional in interacting with organic life, with nature, in some new way every twelve weeks, changing your “normal.” Our bodies habituate to our daily routines and require a big “change-up” every twelve weeks, a medium “change-up” every six weeks, and a minor “change-up” every seven days.
Even those that do yoga, or have a daily meditation practice, or have daily spiritual practices will need to change it up every twelve weeks or so.
4. Maturing Without Traditional Touchstones
Parents aren’t raising their children the same way as before. Today, the parents are distracted by the screens they watch, leaving their children to discern the world from their own set of screens. In the past, we had parented our children in a society using traditional rituals. Today, our children are often raised as much by the screens they are surrounded by as much as by their parents.
The screens have accelerated our pace of learning. Children today learn about the world sooner, faster. It creates stress in two ways. For children readily accepting the streaming input, it can stress them by having them think about issues they haven’t developed mature coping skills adequately enough. For children that fell behind, we have a generation of children that are stressed out enough to begin “opting-out” of society. Our children today must deal with an entire world of events streaming into their bedrooms, into their cellphones and laptops. Children are left to attempt to cope with adult subjects facing every corner of the globe using child coping skills.
Our societies evolved over thousands of years finding ways of celebrating our maturation in life through rituals. Rituals of christening, blessing, bris, baptism, bar mitzvah, high school graduation, wedding, first house, first child, funeral, etc.
SUGGESTION: Be intentional about putting new traditions, new rituals, new touchstones, by creating them together as a family, or with your community. It is never too late.
Just as rapidly as the new paradigm is eroding traditional developmental practices, we must be intentional staying ahead of the generational needs.
Aging gracefully from childhood to maturity must be done with an intention to stay healthy, happy, involved, curious, and physically active. To feel motivated to contribute to the world around you, to find meaning and purpose in your life, and to have something to look forward to every day.
A person who ages gracefully embraces growing older confidently and with a lot of laughs.
Diurnal Cortisol 4x Test: Measures the adrenal hormone cortisol, taken via saliva, 4 times in one day.
Cortisol Awakening Response: Measures cortisol, 7 tests in one day. Shows how fast (or slow) your cortisol rises after waking in the morning.
Basic Saliva Hormone Test: Measures sex hormones estradiol, progesterone and testosterone, plus adrenal hormones cortisol (1x) and DHEA-S.
Comprehensive Elements/Thyroid: Measures heavy metals, essential nutrients, and thyroid hormones to see if external factors may be a cause of thyroid issues.
1. Stress by Generations: 2012 - American Psychological Association
Science shows that people that have a sense of humor will actually live longer. Relying on previously read books on the subject, such as Hans Selye's The Stress of Life, Norman Cousins learned that negative emotions, such as frustration or suppressed rage, are linked to adrenal exhaustion. Therefore, Cousins assumed the opposite to be true, that positive emotions - love, hope, faith, laughter, confidence - would yield salutary results. However, Cousins knew that "putting positive emotions to work is nothing so simple as turning on a garden hose."