Generational Stress and Their Causes

We know the signs our bodies show in response to stress: increased heart rate, loss of appetite, susceptibility to infection, sharpened sight, bursts of energy. This is how the body behaves when it’s in “fight or flight” mode. As we age, we experience different types of stress that can impact our lives in many ways. Here’s a quick summary of those stressors based on generational stages of life.

Stress in Children

  • Stress in children is estimated to have increased 45% in the last 30 years.
  • Stress responses from children are often mistaken for misbehaviour or inattention.
  • Many children are unaware that they might be suffering from stress and think that what they’re feeling is normal.

Some likely causes:

  • New academic and social demands in school
  • Changes, like moving homes or schools
  • Over scheduling of activities
  • Not fitting in or bullying

 

Stress in Teenagers

  • These days, many teens tend to experience stress levels on par with adults, though theirs might stem from academic, social and family difficulties.
  • Support seeking behaviours from childhood diminish in adolescence as teenagers begin to seek more autonomy.
  • While some teenagers use music, sports or talking with peers to help them cope, many resort to increased risk taking, self injury or excessive video game usage to manage their stress.

Some likely causes:

  • Academic difficulties and constant pressure to perform well at school
  • Conflict with parents
  • Conflict with peers
  • Conflict between parents
  • Not fitting in or bullying

 

Stress in Adults

  • Adults between the ages of 18 and 33 are the most stressed demographic on the planet [American Psychological Association 2011].
  • 52% of millennials indicate that stress is keeping them up at night.
  • Adult stress tends to stem from a highly competitive work environment and increasing pressure to perform.
  • While most adults recognize that they suffer from stress, many feel like they are either unable to, or don’t have enough time to manage it because of this pressure.
  • As a result, unhealthy behaviours like overeating and excessive alcohol consumption are used as stress management methods.
  • Anxiety may affect workplace performance or increase absenteeism.

Some likely causes:

  • Workplace anxiety from high-stakes environments and perfectionistic tendencies
  • Financial worries about job security or needing to pay down high levels of student debt
  • The sandwich generation, typically between the ages 40-59, are caring for children and aging parents

 

Stress in Mature Adults (65+)

  • Mature adults have a lot less workplace stress due to the fact that many are retired.
  • However, the majority of their stress revolves around health problems affecting themselves or their families.
  • Thankfully, this type of stress is something that can be directly tackled with a primary-care practitioner.
  • Spending more time ensuring that a particular health concern and treatment plan is understood will put their minds at ease and somewhat lessen the stress.

Some likely causes:

  • Personal health concerns (chronic illnesses, disabilities)
  • Health issues that affect their families
  • Loss of a spouse

 

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