'Keep Calm and Carry On.'
It’s probably one of the most overused statements we’ve seen in the last decade. We’ve all seen the posters, mugs, gifs and memes. In fact, we still see them. Along with the pretty images of rock displays, meditation poses and Buddha’s with the mantras ‘Om’, ‘Breathe’, ‘Relax’ or ‘Chill’ proudly displayed.
If you’re like me, who once found these slogans relatively amusing (and at times, fitting) you’re probably now raising an eyebrow. In fact, maybe even feeling a little resentful. From their overuse to the seemingly laissez-faire vibe, these statements may in fact feel careless; cold, inappropriate, with little consideration being given to the nature in which they are thrust about – and at us. Because let’s face it, being told to “Keep Calm” in a world that continues to make life feel just that little bit harder – with our anxiety rates going through the roof – has our internal voices screaming: “Ok smart ass, I hear you. But for the love of God, tell me HOW!”
Easier said than done right? (Hello, another notch to the stress ladder).
Slogans aside, we could talk to death about the rates of anxiety and how it’s plaguing our lives. Yes, it’s on the rise. Yes, covid has made it worse. Yes, we’re facing an increase in the number of challenges our gen has seen. And yes, we don’t know what the future holds.
But the reality is, a lot of what is going on around us, is external, meaning it’s outside of our control. The problem is however, for a lot of millennials, we’re taking the external, and internalizing it – in turn, making our anxiety worse.
Trust me, I’m not downplaying the anxiety issue. I know what it’s like. Anxiety is awful. It can be debilitating (I’ve been there). But like the concepts of being “busy” and “stressed”, “anxiety” is fast making its way into become so part of our millennial culture, it’s almost normal. (And the risk therefore, it being ‘cool’).
But it isn’t. Normal, or ‘cool’.
Yes, feeling some levels of anxiety is part of our human response; but not feeling it ongoing. And certainly not to the point where it’s debilitating our general wellbeing, health or quality of life.
So what can we do?
Find some simple strategies that we can adopt to manage our anxiety and make our life easier. (Note, these tips are not a substitute for seeking professional help, if needed).
1. Recognize our millennial strengths
Newsflash. We are an impeccable generation of people with more skills available to us then we often acknowledge. We’re a generation who are born problem solvers. Big thinkers. Solution orientated. Creative. Innovative. Love a good challenge. Want to learn. Want to grow as people. But most importantly, we are flexible.
Which means by default we can take on the “anxiety challenge”, put on our problem-solving hats and get into action to manage our wellbeing.
2. Identify what your anxiety triggers are
Identifying what our triggers are enables us to manage. For example, it might things like drinking alcohol, or spending scrolling through social media. Or, it might be more serious things such as worrying about work, money, our health, or families.
If we know what the triggers are, we can then work out how to manage them.
For example, if I know that every time, I check Instagram I start feeling anxious because I compare myself to others, the solution would be to limit the amount of time I check Instagram.
3. Identify what you can and can’t control
Like the above, when we can know what we can and can’t control, it allows us to shift our perspective.
For example, if I’m anxious about losing my job due to global uncertainty and I become aware that 1) the global situation is not something I can control but 2) My attitude is something I can (e.g. expressing gratitude that I do have a job and focusing on doing the best I can in my current role), then I’m less likely to feel anxious.
‘Me time’ is hugely undervalued in our society, and part of the funk we sometimes feel is when we get too caught up in the stuff that goes on around us.
There are two ways you can approach self-care. First, is to simply call time when you feel you need it. The only thing to be mindful of, is you run the risk of ending up only taking time out, when you are anxious!
Trying to be more attentive of what you are thinking, which feeds in to how you are feeling, will keep you one step ahead.
Second, is to plan it as part of your routine, whether it be 10 minutes a day, or a few hours a week. Remember, self-care is about you: doing the things that bring you joy and make you feel calm and peaceful.
Like anything in life, when we can identify what’s causing an issue, we feel in control. And when we feel in control, we can work out a plan to mitigate. Which in turn makes us feel more in control, and so strengths the cycle. Anxiety – and managing it – is no different.
We have the tools and support available to support after our mental health – all we need to do, is use them.