Millennial burnout and the importance of saying no

No. A simple word that inspires so much fear for young adults. There seems to be constant pressure from friends, family, university, and work to do it all: socialise and study and work and sleep and exercise and look happy all at the same time. Of course, no one can perfectly balance it all. Many millennials have reported feeling chronically tired, dejected, and unfulfilled in life, attributing this feeling to these pressures.

This phenomenon known as “millennial burnout” was coined by BuzzFeed in an article exploring this exhaustion, shame, and unhappiness. They are held to the standards of older generations whilst inhabiting a vastly different contemporary world. Millennials are expected to work without pause; to rest is to fail. Constantly plugged into social media and email, it is nearly impossible to escape the torrent of reminders and invitations without going completely off-the-grid (an unfeasible option for most.)

So, is there any escape from burnout? Psychologistshaveaddressed this issue. In particular, Rachel Andrew has found that her patients struggle to stop moving and stop doing as they do not want to be branded as the typical lazy, ungrateful millennial. Andrew says that many members of this generation are unable to simply say no.

Thefearofmissingout (FOMO, as we all know it) chains many simply to agreeing to every social plan, every extra opportunity. This can only lead to more looming deadlines, which means more anxiety.

Most university students do not exactly fit the millennial generation(the cut-off is around 22 years old), but the gloom and fatigue have not been contained to just this generation. So, how do you avoid burnout? How do you say no?

Firstly, it would help to reconsider your priorities. Instead of trying to be the best student, employee, friend, and family member, take a step back to see which aspect of your life truly makes you feel excited. It can be daunting to relinquish control over parts of your life, but it is also impossible to focus on everything at once. Figuring out which events you want to say “no” to is the first step. Maybe going out for the third night in a row is not how you want to spend your time or money. Or maybe it is.

However, making this choice will prevent the feeling of guilt that comes with trying to go out and then promptly wakeup to revise or go to work and not having perfect results. Do not compromise on your own life.

Next, it is important to understand that it might be uncomfortable saying no. The moment of declining an offer to go out will not be the moment you suddenly feel energised and anxiety- free. You might feel like you have let your friends down or that you are depriving yourself of social time. It is important to remember that missing one night will not bring about the end of your friendships and the next time you go out it will be even more rewarding if you have enough energy.

Thirdly, we have to address that even if going to work and school feels monotonous and draining, it is not exactly feasible to say no to showing up to your classes. So, instead of skipping them altogether, think about how to make yourself feel the most prepared and calm in academic and work-related situations.

This could mean making sure to get a good night’s sleep before a long day of uni or going in an outfit that makes you feel confident. The aim is to avoid feeling sluggish or like you are simply going through the motions. Slightly changing the way you approach school or work will break up the uniformity of daily obligations.

In the end, burnout is really about not prioritising your choices and trying to please those around you. The solution to the seemingly never-ending exhaustion is to take a step back, breath, and reconsider. Go out if you want. Curl up in bed if you want. Just remember to be honest about what makes you feel happy.

 

Image: CollegeDegrees360 via flickr 

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