The Millennial Perspective: Handling the Weight of Stress

Stress. What does this word mean to a millennial? A lot of the time it could be the large sum of student loan debt hanging over our head, saving for our future, finishing a degree, the list goes on. What it really feels like to most of us is a weight on our shoulders that can be hard to shake off. So, how do we handle this weight when it becomes too heavy to bear? As it turns out, there are many ways the millennial generation copes with stress and anxiety.

I, personally, have my own methods of coping with high amounts of stress and anxiety which usually involve eating a lot of snacks, but I wanted to hear the input of my fellow millennials. Since this could be a more sensitive subject, for those who struggle with depression and anxiety, I asked some of my close friends for their input. Many of them claimed playing video games and binge-watching shows, or movies, were a good way to wind down from stress. However, in those higher stress moments where the world feels like it is closing in on them, many turn to proven strategies to help center their mind. In light of recent events caused by COVID-19, finding peace in a disrupted world has been something a lot of us have had to work on. This could be focusing on that single task to distract the mind, such as cleaning, shopping or reading. Many said they make lists of the things they can control to help them get a better handle on what is going on around them. Others seek help from a therapist to talk through their stress. Some said they just cry it out rather than letting their stress build up inside to a point beyond control. Meditation was another tool many used to help ease their mind of stress and anxiety or read something that is similar to a mantra. The last two strategies are interesting and something that I think may be worth trying. Centering your mind to gain perspective is a highly successful strategy for some individuals.

Because of findings, I pursued a lengthy discussion on meditation with a friend. She mentioned that she uses an app called, “Calm”. This app provides guided meditations as well as tips and tricks about how to incorporate meditation into your daily routine. There are similar apps out there as well. Taking time to meditate, in some capacity, on a daily basis can help start and end the day on a positive note. Meditation can also make you more aware that although anxiety and stress are present, our reactions to it may be controllable. People experience a variety of reactions to stress. To put it simply, some people react to situations better than others by approaching stressful situations and anxiety with a different mentality.

There is a concept called “spheres of influence” that is present in some stress-management methods. To briefly describe this concept, there are things you have absolute control over which is called, “The Self”. Things you have limited control over called “Influence”. Lastly, the things you have no control over are grouped as “Everything Else”. 

To place this concept in perspective during the COVID-19 pandemic, consider the following:

  • Self: We as individuals have control over what we do during the pandemic. We can decide to go to the store, or do delivery or pick-up, decide to go to restaurants, decide to exercise, etc. Factors that we can control, we should. We can decrease our stress levels by ensuring we are utilizing good behaviors to keep us as safe as possible. 
  • Influence: The next sphere contains life areas over which we have some or limited control. This may include family members’ decisions during the pandemic. Yes, you can give advice but you cannot decide for them what they can do. Therefore, it is not helpful to devote time to these activities that cause you stress.
  • Everything Else: The final area. This includes the governmental decisions affecting health, safety and the economy. We have very little direct control over these areas on a global basis. It is best not to fixate on these areas of life because it lowers our feeling of comfort and increases our stress level. Focus on what you can affect, not what you can’t.

No matter the method of controlling your stress levels, whether millennial or older, it is important to keep the majority of your focus on yourself and those things you can control. Expend very little, if any, energy on the things you cannot. 

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How to Retire Worry-Free

If you are like many of our clients, prior to retiring, you are concerned about the process and ability to continue your current lifestyle after discontinuing your career. This is a valid concern and one that we address with every client considering retirement. To provide confidence and courage to initiate this important step, and truly enjoy retirement, we developed a unique process that alleviates these concerns and empowers our clients with predictability in their lives. Do you have a process to create the retirement lifestyle you desire?

First, you must develop a mental approach to retirement that is healthy. Worry will do nothing to resolve a challenge but make it feel more overwhelming that it truly is. To create confidence in your life, we assist our clients with the identification and implementation of activities that generate positive thoughts and enhance self-esteem. You are probably wondering what this step has to do with a successful retirement plan? It is the key ingredient! Thinking about others, showing gratitude and fulfilling the needs of others are the truly valuable “assets” in a person’s life. Qualitative characteristics of retirement are as critical to the process material resources. This stage of the process has nothing to do with money, budgets or investments. However, if we can help you become more confident by helping others, the process of retiring is simply a transition from focusing on your career to focusing on others in your community.

Helping others is one method of creating a worry-free retirement. Seek out those in need and create a legacy for yourself through service.

Next, we assist our clients in creating expectations for the next phase of life. To expect more income from your resources, than you properly prepared for during your accumulation years, is to set a tone of frustration for yourself. By prudently projecting reasonable returns and estimating living expenses that are realistic, you will reap the predictable, recurring and adequate lifestyle that you need to live worry-free. Many people believe it is too late to correct course on their retirement plan after the initial decisions have been made. This is not true. You can always create a better tomorrow through proper planning and executing on adjustments to create the life you desire. Your goal in retirement should be to maximize your quality of life. Life is too short to live in worry. A wise, old football coach, Leo Thurman, often offered advice to those around him. One such profound statement is:

“Son it don’t take long to live a lifetime.”

—Leo Thurman

Lastly, to mitigate worry, you must utilize a continuous monitoring system to help you manage your lifestyle and “stay on track”. Unlike the infomercial that promises you can “set it and forget it”, life is somewhat more challenging. You must adopt a mindset that anything worthwhile is going to require some input of your time, talents and resources. Don’t tackle a job without the proper tools and experience. You only get one chance to retire the first time. Seek out a Certified Financial PlannerTM practitioner that specializes in the needs and desires of retirees to help you build a plan that is sound and creates a worry-free retirement for you.

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