The Pace of Stress From zero to 60
What fears and worries keep you awake at night? It’s very specific to my toddler: big apes. It’s retirement for my mother. Mental health experts say every generation – from children to seniors – has unique stressors. Understanding this can help all of us find a little more peace for ourselves and those we love.
Children and young adults
Canada is warming to double the global average. According to Rebecca Higgins, a mental health educator with the Canadian Mental Health Association, climate change is one of the most important things that contribute to children’s stress levels. “We haven’t seen climate fear and climate grief so often in previous generations,” she says.
“But on the other hand, it’s the children who are really on their toes, and they support one another, find reasons to hope and come together to make change,” she says.
And that’s just one of the stressors. From our teens to early adulthood, we experience many transitions and changes. “You are seeing a shift in independence, so finance, labor and housing costs are becoming increasingly important,” says Higgins.
This continues into our twenties and thirties. “Millennials make decisions about their relationships and starting families, and they are also stressed about how they compare to their peers,” says Higgins. “When people around you hit marks that traditionally mark success, you can feel really lonely and really left out.”
To cope with mounting stress, millennials try yoga and meditation twice as often as older generations. “These are grounding tools,” explains Higgins. “Spirituality, where you can connect with what is important to you, is one of the fundamental things that sustain our well-being.”
It runs in the family
Researchers theorize that parents’ stress levels can directly affect their children’s genes, including the genes that affect a child’s sensitivity to stress. For example, one study found that children of Holocaust survivors had genetic changes that made them more likely to develop stress disorders. The intergenerational trauma inflicted by residential schools on First Nations people is another example of intergenerational stress.
Our stress levels begin to peak in the mid-thirties to mid-forties. It is also when most Canadians are in the greatest debt and financial stress. No wonder money and work continue to be the number one stressors.
“People in their early forties are often trapped in the ‘sandwich generation’,” says Higgins. “They take care of children, take care of older parents, and may also take care of student loans and mortgages. This is a time of increased financial and emotional work. “
For Gen Xer, alcohol, entertainment, and smoking are the go-to places to deal with stress.
Boomers and Seniors
Work and money eventually cease to be our primary concerns once we are in our mid 40s and are superseded by health stress, whether that is our health or the health of those we love.
“People aged 55 and over tend to be less stressed and better at handling it,” says Higgins. “One reason is practice and resilience – you’ve gotten through life to this point. They also have more experience and confidence. That doesn’t mean you will have fewer problems, but you’ve learned which stress management tools will work for you and which won’t. “
Soothing stress across all generations
According to Higgins, there are proven strategies that all generations can use to manage their stress levels. “Connecting with others is central, as is finding a purpose, a hope, and a purpose in life,” she says.
Exploring the outdoors also helps reduce our stress levels and improve our mood. “Being in nature doesn’t make the bad go away, but it strengthens our resilience to go back and face it,” says Higgins.
“And the most important piece I’ve learned is that if there’s one big thing that overwhelms you, break it down into more manageable pieces,” says Higgins.
When you’re feeling stressed out, natural supplements can help you find the peace of mind you are looking for. Get enough vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, zinc, B vitamins, and magnesium. The following herbs are also commonly used for stress relief:
Come to terms
Concern is when you are upset about something that is about to or could happen. Chronic, excessive worry is often a symptom of an anxiety disorder.
stress is a series of physical and emotional reactions in your mind and body in response to something that is stressful for you.
fear is your response to stress and helps you avoid future dangers. However, when you have an anxiety disorder, you have excessive levels of anxiety or restlessness.
depression is a medical illness in which symptoms such as feelings of sadness, mental fog, and fatigue last for more than two weeks. It can involve excessive fear, but not always.