Do you remember when we had to carry our iPod or Zune ( Microsoft tried), digital camera, and our Razor flip phone everywhere we went? Now we have all of those things compiled into one device. The world has become a lot smaller due to the advances in technology (it is LITERALLY at our fingertips) which has pros and cons. The pros are that you can connect to Africa or Austria at a click of a button and technology is helping us find cures for major diseases. The biggest con is people are turning to superficial connections on the internet versus real-life connections. I think this is easier because we can be whoever we want to be online and we are not required to be very vulnerable like we would in person. Whether we realize it or not this has a huge hindrance to our professional and personal lives. We have become so accustomed to being shiny and filtered (Thank you Instagram!) that we sometimes forget how to deal with real emotion.
Our generation is currently seeing the biggest rise in depression, anxiety, and suicide than ever before. Many experts contribute it to the growing use of social media platforms. The stress of trying to present the perfect life, career, and family definitely takes a toll on our brains. We were not meant to be controlled by the magical blue light on our screen. If you are looking at managing your stress, cutting back on social media is a great place to start. Here are some tips to do so without feeling like you are missing out.
7 Strategies To Improve Your Life and Reduce Stress
- Unplug (obviously)
This is hard because we are bombarded with social media and Netflix keeps releasing binge-worthy shows. I admit I will binge-watch shows and scroll through apps mindlessly for hours on end too. However, I make a point to take an hour a day to unplug. I put my phone down and enjoy talking over dinner with family. More often than not, I give into my dog’s whimpers and take her to the park and play. Anything where I can decompress a little and take a deep breath. Even when I write I can get so hyper-focused that I have to take a step back, let my brain not think about it, and then come back to it with a fresh set of eyes. There is so much power in being able to unplug.
- Working Out
I have a love-hate relationship with working out. I HATE getting the workout started, but I LOVE how I feel afterward. I love it because I feel like not only did I accomplish something, but I nailed it. Since I have started working out on a regular basis I have noticed my mood is better, I can focus easier, and I am getting a better quality of sleep. You are probably rolling your eyes right now because everyone says “If you want to feel better, reduce stress, and be happier work out on a regular basis.”. I hated those people too until I started and it ACTUALLY worked. Have you ever been really mad at someone? The next time you get really frustrated go lift weights, run, or hit a punching bag. There is a chemical release of endorphins when we are active that melts away frustration.
I am not saying forgo your Taco Bell altogether. Just saying there is a growing desire to make our own food that looks like a chef’s creation. There are many meal delivery options that teach you how to cook gourmet meals for the fraction of the cost ( which we need because our student loans and rent take all of our income). Put on some music, grab a bottle of wine, and cook a meal. Sometimes I pretend I am on my own cooking show because it can make failing a little more comical. After you master a couple of recipes you will be able to invite your friends and family over with full confidence that you will impress them with something other than frozen pizza.Trust me you will feel like you are extreme adulting when you pull it off.
- Find A Hobby
Everyone needs a hobby. I am practicing how to letter and write in modern calligraphy. My fiance likes to build and paint models (pretty sure that is how he has mastered being so patient with me). We set time aside every week to work on them. It is important to acknowledge that we both need time and space for a creative outlet. Your outlet may look like dancing in the living room Risky Business style of reading in a coffee shop. Just find something you enjoy doing or are interested in and make time for it. There have been days when I questioned what it would take to move to Paris and start over. Then I look at my bank account and realize that is not an option. Picking up my pens and writing about my frustrations in an aesthetic way is an option though. It helps me relax and work through whatever is going on in my head because I can get those thoughts on paper.
- Spend Time With Friends
This does not include hanging out with friends while everyone sits on their phone sending memes to each other. We have a group of friends we try to get together with a couple of times a month for dinner or a game night. We all put our phones down, talk about our lives, and enjoy spending time together. Working on building up those connections and maintaining them will make it easier for you to make connections in your workplace. Being able to get along with people is a quality many employers look for because in every industry you will need to make connections. Also, life is more fun when you have a tribe by your side. Again, we are not meant to be doing this thing called life alone.
- Find A Career You Enjoy
My grandfather always told me that if you find a career you love you will never work a day in your life. It took me a while to be able to find a career I absolutely love, but I DID find it. I felt like there was so much pressure on me to find the perfect job right out of college because many of my friends landed dream jobs right away. I want to assure you that if you have not found your dream job don’t stop looking and apply, apply, apply! You have to meet fate halfway and at least take a step forward. All you can do is try and the worst that they can say is no. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. If you have an idea for a job but don’t see a market for it, take steps to create the perfect job for you. This is the era of entrepreneurs so go make your dream come to life.
- Give Back
One of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had was working with refugees who were escaping religious persecution. I was able to help set up an apartment for them, teach them English, and love on them and their families. They were hurting in so many ways and even though sometimes I would just sit with them that was all they needed. Whether it be getting involved in a church, volunteering at a food bank, or playing with dogs in a shelter. Do something to give back to your community. It is very rewarding to make someone else’s day. On your worst day, you can walk in dragging your feet and holding back tears because you feel like everything is falling apart. I can guarantee that you will walk out feeling so blessed and encouraged that the issues from the day/ week will not seem a lot easier to deal with.
I want to encourage you to be proactive about your “real” life and make a highlight reel of memories that actually mean something to you. When you are 80 years old you will not care about how many likes you got on a picture or if the filter you chose was the right one. You will care about the people who touched your heart and the memories you made. You matter and you deserve to be genuinely happy!
Sincerely, The Fearless Millennial