The youth today are faced with a constant expectation to deliver at the best of their abilities at all times. An ever-rising population, perpetually fluctuating economies, unemployment as a consequence of substitution by artificial intelligence and inflation are some of the causes that result in unrealistic expectations from the youth to deliver at unattainable standards. This performance pressure has consequences that affect more than just the mental and physical health of an individual, it alters behaviours, lifestyles and the fundamental structure of society.
This article aims to highlight the areas of impact of surviving in a society largely driven by targets and numbers today.
- Mental Health –
A rising concern in the increasing number of severe mental health cases globally is proof to show that stress levels are reaching fatal levels today. Anxiety, depression and substance abuse disorders have become increasingly common. The psychological impact of long lasting environmental stressors like a consistently high demanding job may often be detrimental leading to suicidal ideation and depression when unable to keep up with the pressure. Twelve hour a day work schedules , shorter sleeping hours along with the social media trend to live the ‘hustle’ life that glorifies overworking and ignores the need for self-care, time off and a balanced routine are some of the negative lifestyle changes cultivated in the youth today.
- Physical Health –
Obesity, increase in cardiovascular diseases and diabetes are some of the major illnesses that have been proved to be a manifestation of stress. An increase in the consumption of unhealthy junk food, substance abuse and caffeine all contribute towards a steady increase in the deterioration of physical health all of which are behaviours that stem from the inability to manage stress and pressure. The youth that works 12 hour slots a day, ingests heavy doses of caffeine and sleeps poorly is bound to be severely affecting their physical body which leads to the breeding ground for diseases. Regular exercise, meditation practices and cultivating a healthy diet are the first steps towards ensuring a healthy body.
- Financial Health –
The spending habits of the youth today show a stark difference than the older generations. Research suggested that 77% of the youth in India today does not save for retirement (1). The advent of online shopping, ever changing social media trends and the need to keep up with it all often takes a big toll on the financial health of the youth. The constant pressure to keep up, to fit in and to stand out simultaneously pushes the youth to spend more than their parents or grandparents ever would. This consequently leads to financial stress, bad debts and loans that they would spend a lifetime recovering from. Encouraging financial literacy and financial planning strategies from the early stages would go a long way in preventing financial mismanagement.
- Behavioural Impact –
The young generation today has been moulded in a way to believe that they must succeed at every stage in life, therefore when faced with failure or setbacks they resort to unhealthy coping mechanisms. Having frequent violent lashes, indulging in self harm behaviours, dealing with anxiety/panic attacks or developing excessively impulsive personality traits are some of the markers of behavioural manifestations of stress in the youth today. To manage the pressures of the world today while simultaneously becoming overall healthy, well-adapted and successful individuals it is essential to set achievable goals, prioritize self-care, reach out for professional help when required and to strive toward a lifestyle that focuses on personal happiness.
The young generation is dealing with far greater stressors than ever before, therefore they require supportive environments and a strong circle of support to ensure that they are able to navigate successfully through the pressures that come their way.