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Young adults today are stressed out, and it shows. Popular alternative music duo Twenty One Pilots even penned a hit by the same name to capture the angst. “Stressed Out” hit No. 2 on the Billboard magazine Hot 100 list on February 27, 2016. The song yearns for younger days, “when the Momma sang us to sleep, but now we’re stressed out,” it says.
One 2016 study by the Transamerica Center for Health Studies showed more than half of Millennials (those born between 1981 and 1986) report they have some type of chronic illness, including 23% who say they have been diagnosed with anxiety, ADD/ADHD, depression, or have sought substance abuse treatment. In June, Time magazine announced that “More Millennials Are Dying ‘Deaths of Despair,’” quoting a new study by the nonprofit public health policy group Trust for America’s Health, which looked at data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and found that drug, alcohol, and suicide fatalities rose 108% among 18- to 34-year olds between 2007 and 2017.
British researchers surveyed 41,641 college students in the US, the UK, and Canada and concluded in a study published in Psychological Bulletin last year that today’s young adults feel the pressure to be perfect in body, mind, career, and appearance in a way that generations before them never did. That strive to get it all right is exhausting, mentally draining, and impossible. Nobody can be perfect.
A new study of 15,000 young adults ages 18 to 35 in across 25 countries released yesterday by the Christian research organization Barna Group in partnership with world relief organization World Vision echoes the levels of anxiety recently reported. In “The Connected Generation” study, 40% of young adults said they are worried about making important decisions and uncertain about their future, while 36% stated they feel pressure to be successful.
So what can help ease the burden young adults feel to overachieve?
In more than 300 verses across all books of the Bible, God reminds and even commands his followers not to worry, not to fret, not to have anxiety. That’s the whole bottom line of faith itself: to give up control and put your trust in something outside of yourself. That can be a tall order for young adults, especially in the United States and the UK, who have been brought up to believe they can have it all and achieve it all – and that they better try hard to get it all. But faith can help.
The Barna study offered a ray of hope for Millennials who feel emotionally and mentally overburdened: practicing their faith. In the study, 37% of respondents who identified as atheist, agnostic, or none stated they often feel sad or depressed. The number dropped to 23% of Christians and 26% of people of other faiths. Faith that God is there for you and has your back helps alleviate the anxiety young adults face.
Numerous scientific studies concur that if you believe God is good and takes care of you, you are less likely to feel anxious. In a review of 93 studies on religion and health, Dr. Harold G. Koenig, director of the Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health at Duke University Medical Center, found that more religious people experienced fewer symptoms of depression.
There are a number of ways faith helps ease anxiety and depression. For one thing, it offers hope for redemption. In a world filled with mass shootings, economic challenges, and uncertainty for the future, faith allows you to relax in the belief that God has it under control and, as Jeremiah 29:11 promises has plans to give you a “hope and a future.”
Those who practice their faith often feel more connected in community, and strong relationships give people higher levels of personal satisfaction and lower levels of stress. Gathering in church services on Sunday or heading to a Bible study on Wednesday nights gives people a sense of purpose and belonging.
Prayer also calms the mind and has been proven to lower blood pressure, promote feelings of happiness and peace, and give anxiety sufferers the reassurance that they are not in the battle alone.
In addition to maintaining an active walk with God and practicing faith, there are a number of practical ways you can manage anxiety and stress. If your stress is so great that you experience depressive symptoms, consult your doctor right away. Find a good Christian counselor who can help you navigate your negative emotions by giving you tools to promote positive self-talk and mental realignment.
Consider how your diet might be affecting your moods. Several recent studies show a poor diet contributes to depression. One report in Psychiatry Research found that eating lots of fruit, vegetables, olive oil, fish, antioxidants, and whole grains was associated with a decreased risk of depression. Diets high in sweets, red meat, high-fat dairy products, butter, and potatoes increased the risk of depression.
Try CBD oil. One of the most common ailments CBD users report finding relief from is anxiety. CBD oil, extracted from hemp, does not get users high but many report it does help calm them when they feel anxious. CBD oil seems to interact with our internal CB1 and CB2 receptors, putting the body back into homeostasis, or a state of stability.
If you are a young adult suffering from anxiety or depression, seek God. Seek good counsel. Find medical advice. And reach out to those around you. You are worth it. You matter. You are important. The world needs you to stick around and give us the benefit of the one-and-only you. We would not be better off without you. If you experience any suicidal thoughts, please reach out. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is answered 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-8255. Keep trying. Keep pushing. God loves you. We love you. And the world needs you.
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