Each generation says their stress levels are too high to be healthy for cortisol hormone levels, regardless of age.
Are you between the ages of 15 and 21? Congratulations, you are part of Gen Z, the highest stress generation. But you did not need me to tell you that.
School shootings, sexual assault, social bullying, and now COVID-19 forcing social isolation during a quarantine. No wonder you are stressed. Prolonged stress increases your health risk, often due to sustained high levels of cortisol hormones produced by your adrenal glands.
Is stress heating up your life, and you are concerned about your health?
The highest stressed generation starts with our youngest, Gen Z. Then in ascending order of stress are the Millennials, Gen Xers, Boomers, and then the Matures. The American Psychological Association (APA)1 and the Advisory Board2 found stress is a rising trend affecting every generation, gender, and socio-economic segment of our culture.
It's Not Your Fault
Stress is a neutral word. It is an outside event pushing change or exerting pressure on us. The more we resist this external push, the greater your feeling of discomfort, which we internally interpret as stress. The greater the pressure, the higher level of stress. Unusually prolonged levels of stress can cause higher levels of neurotoxicity and hormone imbalance.
Each one of us is being challenged with our own generational concerns, ranging from keeping a paying job, a stable place to live, maintaining medical insurance, having enough money to pay the bills in uncertain times.
As part of Gen Z, you are experiencing the same anxiety as older generations. Nature has not biologically equipped you to deal with it, at least not yet. The skillset is called "Executive Function" and is often described as "the management system of the brain" which includes working memory, flexible thinking, and self-control. This part of the brain is not fully developed until the mid-'20s.
Let's look at 3 Great Ways To Reduce Stress
1. Reduce Screen Time: putting screens between us and others increases cortisol levels
An increase in playing video games, referred to as gaming, is directly related to hormone imbalance in Gen Z. The other generational groups are watching more TV, streaming movies, viewing social media, and surfing video hosting sites. All of these activities contribute to emotional feelings of unhappiness—the reduced level of human contact produces an “empty calorie-effect.”
Ask any Gen Z'er and they might reveal their hours spent on the screen is increasing from year to year. Casual gamers can average up to two hours per day on a technology screen. Hardcore gamers average over nine hours per day.
Gaming is enticing because it artificially elevates the hormones adrenaline and cortisol. An adrenaline rush can be addictive; an aspect that doesn't go unnoticed by the gaming manufacturers.
You think you are connecting because you hear the voice of someone else, the recorded voice continuously streaming during a game. But it is only a partial connection. A video screen, even with another person on the other end, does not produce the full spectrum of hormones, and neurotransmitters needed to create a calm, healthy emotional state of mind. Instead, our bodies are saturated with excitement-related hormones.
Without healthy personal interactions, we are left feeling empty—craving "something" more. Worse, after a daily dose of artificially high levels of adrenaline and cortisol, we emotionally crash. Feelings of depression and anxiety become a constant complaint during non-gaming hours.
2. Increase People Time: craving for real connection causes us to chase screens as a substitute
When face-time with others is replaced with more time surfing our "social muscle" begins to weaken. 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 being “plugged into” a technologically driven world of constant distraction without an “off button” to recharge our nature. Our rising cortisol levels are in some regards caused by our retreat from the natural world into a man-made environment.
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. A healthy balance of hormones is 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.
If you find yourself feeling depressed, fatigued, or unable to sleep a "touchless" at-home Neurotransmitter test can help you to understand how to bring your mind and body back to peak performance. Test first, fix behavior next, and avoid a prescription to the last.
3. Be In Nature: Having no contact with nature is unhealthy
Being less engaged with nature by sitting indoors all day, with little outdoor activity, plays havoc on your health. Your natural rhythm becomes challenged. A sedentary indoor lifestyle reduces the healthy production of hormones and neurotransmitters. Attaining a healthy balance is difficult. Over the years, each generation engages less with nature. This has caused us to lose the therapeutic advantages of seasonal changes.
Each season is roughly three months long. When autumn starts, the temperatures get cooler. You may notice a change in your mood. As the seasons change, so do the way we play, feel, and interact with others.
Many scientists believe that our hormones are in rhythm with seasonal cycles. 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. Your brain feels drained of energy, mental depletion, thoughts become foggy. 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 may be caused by being out of cycle with nature.
When you focus on the right diet, digestive health, and strategies that promote stress management you are changing your "normal". Our bodies adjust to our daily routines and need a big “change-up” every twelve weeks.
"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 B
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.
If you do yoga, or have a daily meditation practice, or have daily spiritual practices consider changing it up every twelve weeks or so.
To get an accurate understanding of your body's neurotransmitters and hormone balance order your "touchless", at-home test kit.
Maturing Without Traditional Touchstones
We often hear that "parents aren’t raising their children the same way as before". Today, everyone is distracted by the screens they watch, leaving their children to discern the world from their own set of screens. As part of Gen Z, you grew up connected to technology. Children left to discern the world on their own, from a set of screens. In the past, we had parented our children using traditional beliefs. Today, children are often raised by the screens that surround them.
DIgital-Ites Eager to Learn
The screens have accelerated your ability to learn. Mobile devices have become an extension of the person who owns it. This fast-paced learning creates stress in two ways. For Gen Z and Millennials this constant streaming can stress them out. Having to think about issues when they have not developed mature coping skills. Many children during this time fall behind. This led to a generation of children stressed out enough to begin “opting-out” of society. Now that you are older, it means dealing with an entire world of events. Information streaming into the bedrooms, into the cellphones and laptops. Leaving you to cope with the adult subject matter and the coping skills of a child.
Our societies evolved over thousands of years. long the way, developing ways to celebrate life through rituals. Rituals of religious beliefs and life-changing events. The new paradigm is eroding traditional developmental practices. You must stay ahead of your generational needs.
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. From childhood to adulthood this must happen with an intention to stay healthy and happy. You must stay involved, curious, and physically active. Staying motivated to contribute to the world around you, will help you to find meaning and purpose in your life. Giving you 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.
Women's Sex and Stress Hormone Panel: Provides insight into your sex hormone levels along with stress levels.
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."