LOCKDOWN, GEN Z AND MENTAL HEALTH
Okay, i think we can all agree that lockdown has taken a toll on everyone's mental health at least to some extent but I must say Gen z's and late millenials have been suffering the most, well in my opinion anyway. Let's look at why and see what to do about that. Now the issue with lockdown is not just tied to staying at home alone, that alone isnt the crux of the matter, the issue here is freedom.
We have lived in our homes, we've eaten in our homes, we have conducted life as usual in these homes so what makes lockdown in 'these homes' we are used to so niggling? It's the restriction. Human life is governed by liberty, freedom, space. With freedom comes variety, with variety comes balance, and more appreciation is garnered through the agency of variety, we we're not programmed to be cooped up in a box looking at the same thing 24/7, that stands to reason where sameness and routine essentially is doing a 360 every given day it restricts the flow of dopamine. What is dopamine? It is what is commonly referred to as the 'feel-good' hormone, the neurotransmitter that releases pleasure in the body and is an essential part of the brains reward system, albeit it isnt the only one but let's hone in on this particular hormone for now. According to Dr Erica Julson activities which release dopamine are exercising, having a balanced diet and lifestyle. You see a balanced lifestyle is a part of safe and secure mental health you cant sit on your bum all day and expect to be healthy and you can't be a workaholic and expect to be healthy either, you cant deprive yourself of sleep and be healthy, but too much sleep is harmful too. Both excessive states of being have their vices this is why we need balance! Unfortunately due to lockdown the balance of lifestyle has declined significantly which means there is a huge decline in dopamine and when there's a decline in dopamine your memory fails, you are more likely to fall into cycles of depression and in some cases mental ailments such as schizophrenia can occur, but that is with extreme cases. Now you're probably reading this thinking 'I didnt ask for a neuroscience lesson, and you're probably also thinking what does this have to do with late millenials and gen Z?' Well I'm glad you asked The brain needs dopamine right? Well late teenagers/young adult need it a little more, so that extraverted teen you have at home that likes a good time out with his friends and would prefer that to the fortnightly family meetings is not behaving out of the ordinary the thrills they are seeking for are good for them to some extent.
Young people these days are after 'good vibes, good people' and they seem to avoid things which interrupt their 'peace' it all comes from that in-built reward system, as you grow the need for that settles down to a certain extent. The problem here is ever since the lockdown commenced alot of what provides these feel good sensations to generation Z'ers and millenials has largely been cut off. As for me personally I love the Cinema, I'm a huge marvel fan and being able to go to Christian networking events, and walks which for the most part I cant do because its quite cold outside. For someone else it may be different. Someone may get their dopamine from playing football with friends, Shopping or what, have you, some may get their dopamine from intimate social interaction. Lockdown largely affects this. I saw a study which said 7 in 10 Gen Z's have had their mental health decline as a result of the lockdown. The news in my opinion has been largely silent about these kind of pressing issues but another problem is suicide rates among young people have gone up significantly. In the first six weeks of the first lockdown alone suicidal thoughts among young people were said to have sky rocketed. What does a Gen Z or millenial then do to combat the lockdown blues and preserve their mental health?
BE INTENTIONAL ABOUT YOUR OWN MENTAL HEALTH
Just in case you're a gen Z reading this or you have a son/daughter who is around that age bracket this will be helpful to you. INTENTIONALITY! This is important, understand that the government unfortunately will not prioritise your mental health you have to. That doesnt mean be irresponsible or put someone else's life at risk but find the thing that releases the feel good chemicals for you, whether that's playing a game, having a zoom party with your closest friends do what you enjoy. With the way this pandemic is set up we arent really required to do much, some people work from home but with that being said we have a great deal of free time and this in itself gives us to some degree the volition to explore what we like or conversely; what we dont like. A time will come when we're so busy again and we'll be reminiscing 'oh do you remember when we we're in lockdown?'
'Yes, I do'
'I lowkey miss it you know'
I can already hear these conversations among some of my friends. Use this time to be intentional and do what you enjoy. You dont need to be engaging in mindless arguments. Do you! Life itself is too short to allow circumstances to cage you, do what you love!
CULTIVATE HEALTHY HABITS
I'm literally saying this because it's something I personally need to work on. Dont allow the lack of structure to make you unstructured. Sleeping until 5 or perhaps not sleeping at all just because you dont neccessarily have to be somewhere isnt the best option. Consider sleeping early, getting up early try making a schedule even if it's to do nothing. You'll find that added balance in your life will keep you afloat mentally. Eat healthy, exercise, and maybe in some cases avoid too much social media especially if much of the content you're consuming is toxic or hurtful. Also balance your time with the screen. Research has shown that added time on mobile devices and laptops have quadrupled the amount of sleeplessness. It's good to have a detox every now and again. Also, dont just stay in bed all day. The bed is there at your disposal but getting out of it to have a leisurely stroll is very beneficial for your maintenance cognitively, and in the summer when the Sun is out what is provided is Vitamin D which funnily enough serves as a very strong defense for a disease of Covid19's nature.
With the way our standard of living has drastically shifted you would think people would recharge more often, have more time to introspect, unfortunately with the way working environments have had to change it's brought up the level of anxiety and diligent workers have become a little more obsessive unfortunately(this is no fault of their own). For all the millenials and Gen z's in the corporate world prioritise recharge. Times where you're by yourself and use it to maybe journal, reflect or re-strategise. Networking is very important in the world of work but so is recharging and no this isnt just an 'introvert thing' everyone needs a proverbial get away to regroup their thoughts and gather strength for the next day or week. Try it you may be pleasantly surprised by what happens when you experiment with all three of these.