Grandmas and Stress: Good News for Us Boomers

Stress reliefGood news for us Boomer Grandmas!   In an article by Melissa Dahl, NBC News, “Millenials Are the Most Stressed Out Generation, A new Study Shows,” at http://vitals.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/02/07/16889472-millennials-are-the-most-stressed-out-generation-new-survey-finds , we Boomers have less stress than those younger than us and we are going to have even less stress as we age!

First, we have to get with the terminology to understand this new study from the American Psychological Association’s annual report, Stress in America, which surveyed 2,020 American adults in a questionnaire conducted online by Harris Interactive in August 2012. The APA has commissioned the survey every year since 2007.  We know we are called Boomers, born between 1946 and 1955.  Our next stage is called “Matures,” older than age 67.  Now let’s get to the youth: “Millennials,” are defined here as American adults ages 18 to 34. They are also called Generation Y.  Generation X are defined as those born: 1966-1976.

Melissa Dahl, NBC News, writes:

The APA survey found that 76 percent of Millennials surveyed by the APA say that work is a somewhat or significant stressor, compared to 65 percent of Gen Xers and 62 percent of Boomers. That’s a number that has been ticking upwards — in the APA’s 2009 survey, for example, less than half of Millennials reported work as a somewhat or significant stressor.

And, as it turns out, young adults are not great at handling all this self-reported stress they’re under: Forty-four percent of both Millenials and Gen Xers say they’d experienced irritability or anger due to stress, compared to 36 percent of Boomers and 15 percent of what the APA deemed “Matures,” or Americans older than 67. . . .the most stressed generation of adults in the nation is also the youngest. So-called “Millennials,” defined here as American adults ages 18 to 34, reported higher stress levels than their parents’ and grandparents’ generations, and more Millennials said that their stress level had increased in the last year. . . .

It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out what young people might be stressing over: For one, the U.S. unemployment rate continues to creep higher, last week edging up to 7.9 percent. Some recent figures from the non-partisan group Generation Opportunity suggest the unemployment rate is even higher among 18- to 29-year-olds, at 11.5 percent, and only half of this age group believe they’ll be getting Social Security.

“Most of these young people have come out of college or graduate school with horrendous student debt into a job market where there are not very many jobs,” Katherine Nordal , executive director for professional practice of the APA, told “NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams.” “This has put their life plans probably on hiatus; they may be postponing marriage, postponing having a family.”

“Stress is a huge factor when we look at medical problems such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, cardiac disease,” says NBC’s chief medical editor, Dr. Nancy Snyderman. That’s more bad news for younger Americans, who say they more likely than older generations to try to manage their stress by eating junk, drinking alcohol and smoking. . . .If you perceive yourself to be under an incredible amount of stress, then that stress is real to you, says Gail Saltz, an New York City psychiatrist and frequent TODAY contributor.

So it seems, our life experiences and our aging help us cope with the stress in our lives.

“I think that does have something to do about the acquisition of coping skills,” Saltz says. “As you manage to get past things, your ability to look back as something else comes along and say, ‘Well, I got through that’ — that goes a long way.”

We do seem to get better at managing stress as we age, according to the APA’s self-reported figures. While 29 percent of Millennials, 35 percent of Gen Xers and 38 percent of Boomers (adults aged 48 to 66) said they are doing an excellent or very good job at managing stress, half of those older than 67 thought they were doing a bang-up job of keeping their stress manageable.

“There really is something to ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,'” Saltz says.

Wow! Does this mean that our Millennial grandchildren or those to come after them cannot look to a future without high levels of stress until they reach age 48 or older?  This optimistic Grandma thinks not, but remember to tell the parents of your grandchildren the truth:  life is hard and stressful until your children leave the nest.  Working and parenting and multitasking is stressful and multi tasking is not even mentioned in the article.

With further research, I found more about Millennials on the internet, Wikipedia, of course, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generation_YMillennials are sometimes called Echo Boomers, referring to the size of the generation in relation to the Baby Boomer generation and due to the significant increase in birth rates during the 1980s and into the 1990s.

Now, we Grandmas understand the competition caused by being part of a group caused by huge increase in birth rates, having been born after World War II.  We understand the stress of trying to get into college in our youth.  Competition was fierce due to the sheer numbers of students vying for positions.  We understand the stress of trying to get a job due to the sheer numbers of us coming out of school at the same time.

Now look at us.  Not only did we Boomers survive, we thrived.  We changed culture and society, again by our sheer numbers. Hey, Millennials!  It seems that you too are changing culture and society.  But that is a subject for another time.

I seem to be reading that more stress may lead to more obesity so does less stress mean less obesity as we age?  Maybe I can skip the gym this week.  Confirmed by the American Psychological Association, this Grandma is basking in the glory of a life with less stress and more

Joy,

Mema

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