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February 18, 2019

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Beating burnout: How everyone can benefit from balance in their life

millennials

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A recent Buzzfeed article became a viral sensation. The long-form narrative told details of a larger problem affecting millennials—burnout, or the state of emotional, mental and physical exhaustion caused by stress.

Books on happiness

• The One-Minute Gratitude Journal (2016) by Brenda Nathan

• The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World (2016) by the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu and Douglas Abrams

• How to Stop Feeling Like Sh*t: 14 Habits that Are Holding You Back from Happiness (2018) by Andrea Owen

• The Happiness Project (2015) by Gretchen Rubin

• 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found a Self-Help That Actually Works (2014) by Dan Harris

• The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom (2005) by Jonathan Haidt

The piece “How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation,”by Anne Helen Petersen, documents how this population reacted to large societal shifts, such as the burden of student loans, a weak job market, the 2008 recession, lack of affordable housing, stagnant wages, social media and the need to excel at everything one does.

It ends on a dismal note—millennials should accept burnout as a larger issue that will take more than green juice and a meditation app to fix; it will require mass political efforts addressing America’s inequality.

While the solution to burnout may be evasive, practicing self-care can keep the epidemic from spinning out of control for millennials and all other generations also affected by these societal issues.

“We’re a product of the world events around us,” says Stephanie Glover, director of employee assistance and work/life services at Behavioral Healthcare Options. “For different generations, you have to look at what their values are.”

First and foremost, self-care isn’t a one-size-fits-all deal. It’s the reflection of what makes you—regardless of your generation—feel better and recharged after a rough day, week, month or decade. Below are some tips and tricks to help you figure out what refills your cup.

Podcasts about happiness

• The Science of Happiness, hosted by professor Dacher Keltner

• Happier with Gretchen Rubin, hosted by author Gretchen Rubin and her sister Elizabeth Craft

• Better than Happy, hosted by life coach and member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days Saints Jody Moore

• By the Book, hosted by friends Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer; each episode they live by a different self-help book

• Live Happy Now, hosted by the editors of Live Happy magazine

Step 1: Balance your finances. Glover says that most of life’s problems fall under two umbrellas—relationships and money. Take a day to really assess your finances: Are you spending money on things that add up, but don’t fill you up? Are you always stressed about how you’re going to afford rent? Do you feel guilty for spending money on lattes with your friends? Money is more than a number in your checking account, and looking at your spending habits can help you adjust so money is one last worry on your mind.

Step 2: Examine your relationships. Remember what Glover said about the two sources of problems in most people’s lives? Relationships are the second big category. Take time to think about your most intimate relationships. Are you always drained after hanging out with that friend you’ve known since you were 14? How about the coworker who likes to talk loudly when you’re on a deadline? Maybe it’s time to have a heart-to-heart with the people with whom you’re constantly feuding and work toward a solution together.

Apps about happiness

• Insight Timer: meditation for sleep and anxiety

• Calm: meditation and sleep stories

• Shine Self-Care & Meditation

• Talkspace Online Therapy

• Day One Journal

• Reflectly: journal/diary for self-care

Or take an online Yale course on happiness at coursera.org/learn/the-science-of-well-being

Step 3: Write it down. Keep a journal, and write down the moments throughout the week when you feel good. Take note of any patterns or trends. Do you feel recharged after a going to dinner with your friends? How about when binge-watching your favorite show on Netflix? Try to incorporate more of what you love throughout the next week and reassess how you feel again. It may take a few weeks of trial and error to hone in what activities spark joy in your life.

Step 4: Hydrate. Three out of four Americans are chronically dehydrated, according to a survey of 3,003 people done by the Nutrition Information Center at the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center. It might not seem like a big deal, but proper hydration is one small act of self-love that can make a big impact on how you feel, no matter what generation you happen to be in.

Step 5: Get moving. Regardless of whether you're into yoga, CrossFit or spin, physical activity triggers brain chemicals that can make you less anxious and feel happier, according to the Mayo Clinic. Exercising a few times a week and choosing to do something you enjoy can help improve your overall mental health.

This story originally appeared in the Las Vegas Weekly.