Do you remember the last time you actually sat down, perhaps made yourself a steaming cup of tea or watched the television, with your mind all relaxed and completely at peace?
Many of you will probably not be able to relate to this. Try as you might, chances are you won’t be able to think of a recent time or instance when you truly did relax and put your mind to peace. If your high fatigue levels and mental exhaustion is accompanied by a struggle to finish even the simple, mundane tasks of life, you could very well be a victim of millennial burnout.
What Is Exhausting the Millennials?
According to a super popular and viral BuzzFeed article written by Anne Helen Peterson, millennials are experiencing a particular type of burnout that has caused them to lose their work-life balance. The fine line between work and life has become blurred for most of these people. She went on to name this group of people as “the burnout generation” that is slowly edging towards “errand paralysis”, a term that describes the inability to perform even the typical, everyday tasks.
In her article, Anne Helen strongly believes that errand paralysis is one of the biggest and most important signs or indications that you are going through millennial burnout. This could include something as simple and ordinary as going to the bank or making an online payment.
What is Millennial Burnout?
The notion or phenomenon behind experiencing this specific kind of burnout stems from the premise that today’s generation has become so mentally exhausted that it is next to impossible for them to rest or relax. This intense form of exhaustion is believed to be a result of the ever-changing social, technological and economic conditions around them.
In her article, Anne Helen also pointed out that aside from these ever-involving conditions, intensive parenthood is also a significant contributor to millennial burnout. This form of parenting involves persistent training of the younger generation to be exceptionally trained and prepared for their careers, jobs, and workplaces. Such increased pressure and high parental expectations have led them to internalize the idea that they always need to be on their toes, endlessly working their way through the never-ending chase of self-actualization and self-optimization.
Many people further believe that this extreme and exhausting form of burnout has also stemmed from the idea of ‘perfectionism’ which asserts that perfection should be attained in all spheres of human life. The need for perfection has largely been propagated by social media and further enhanced by the complex and challenging environmental and economic conditions. While all of today’s millennials are at risk, the true ‘perfectionists’ and those who are extremely self-critical are at a much greater and increased risk of experiencing millennial burnout. This is because they are always fighting to avoid failure and be at the top of their game.
The Symptoms of Millennial Burnout
Although this is not an officially recognized medical condition, numerous studies have found out that a large number of people are experiencing similar signs and symptoms that may be highly characteristic of this burnout. While the symptoms are not definitive, they are common in a lot of people going through this kind of burnout.
Some of the most widespread and frequently-occurring symptoms include:
- Being tired and exhausted all the time
- Unable to relax or put your mind at peace
- Inability to prioritize the important tasks of life
- Setting yourself unreasonable targets
- Feeling guilty for not working as hard as society expects you to
- Always being switched on and finding it hard to switch off
- Feeling obsessed with keeping up appearances
- Feeling like you aren’t doing enough
- A need for perfection in everything
- Over-expectation from social media, society and possibly parents
Some of these symptoms also happen to be quite similar to those experienced in depression and anxiety. If anything, this goes to suggest that millennial burnout could be an actual medical condition, and far more serious than it is typically perceived.
How to Save Yourself
Anne Helen’s article struck a nerve in a lot of people who were able to relate to a lot of things mentioned in the article; however, it also received some snarky criticism. The critics apparently rejected the entire idea of millennial burnout and went on to say that it just ‘an elaborate cover story for entitled laziness’ and that common fatigue is just being given some fancy terms.
Their solutions to this apparent ‘laziness’ boiled down to millennials not being lazy and needing to stop being “a neurotic mess” if their mental exhaustion is high.
A much serious and widely-accepted solution to saving oneself from burnout was found to be “resilience”.
This approach highlights the need to train people to be more resilient and tough in the face of stress, burnout, and pressure. It also goes on to say that highly capable and proficient people can avoid burnout by improving their working practices and standing tall against all kinds of work pressure.
However, the idea of being resilient is also believed to produce an opposite effect because efforts to exhibit more toughness and buoyancy are likely to become another source of stress. According to a study conducted on workplace burnout, high functioning and resilient groups of people end up working on more complex things, use new and advanced technologies, and even work longer hours and shifts. In this case, again, perfectionists are at a greater risk of millennial burnout because they are already on the verge of getting emotionally, mentally and physically exhausted.
According to Anne Helen, there is no plausible solution to this all-consuming burnout where you can predict it coming and then take appropriate preventive measures accordingly. She says that the best way to deal with it is to acknowledge it as a chronic disease, familiarize yourself with its roots and parameters and perhaps, engage in a paradigm-shifting change!