3 Dangerous Habits Millennials Have Normalized — And Why They’ve Got It Wrong

Social media might not be feeding you the right information.

3 Dangerous Habits Millennials Have Normalized — And Why They’ve Got It Wrong
Photo by Christiana Rivers on Unsplash

Social media might not be feeding you the right information.

“I’ve just got through my third cup of coffee, and it’s only 11 AM. Anyone else having a hard time today?”

The radio jockey’s voice blared through the speakers. I tapped my fingers on the steering wheel and listened on. The entire show was based on how people could send text messages to the RJ, and he’d read out some and play a song of their choice. It was fine in principle, but the number of people who messaged to talk about how they need caffeine to get through their day was surprising.

This got me thinking. Surely, the negative effects of caffeine on the body have been well-documented. Too much coffee can cause anxiety, insomnia, digestive issues, high blood pressure, and several other side effects.

The fact that millennials have normalized caffeine addiction to such an extent that no one raises an eyebrow at needing three cups by 11 AM is scary.

This article is about three other such habits that have detrimental effects on physical and mental health. Still, they have been so normalized by popular culture and social media that no one bats an eye. It might serve as an eye-opener for you.

If anyone in your circle is exhibiting these symptoms, you might want to intervene. I’ve also discussed science-backed ways to get rid of these habits so that you can get back to a healthy, happy life.

“I hate Mondays.”

Do you? Or do you hate your job so much that you dread the start of the work-week right from Sunday afternoon?

As this article published by BBC puts it, your hate for Mondays could be a sign of job dissatisfaction. Or it could be those extra hours of sleep you caught up on during the weekend. Did you know just two hours of extra dozing can disrupt the body clock by as much as 45 minutes? The added sleep time on Saturdays and Sundays can have a negative effect on your body clock, making you feel lethargic all day long on Monday.

Another reason why Mondays are so hard can be due to a lack of work-life balance. Sanam Hafeez, a New York-based neuropsychologist, quotes, “Even if you love what you do, those who live, breathe, and eat work need a break, too. Going hard all week without breaks and nothing to look forward to can wear on the mind and the body. Even if Sunday was the break, it wasn’t enough to help the person feel ready to dive into the work-week again.”

How to get over it

As the former practicing attorney and bestselling author Meredith Atwood writes in Psychology Today, the problem is not Monday. The problem can be rooted in numerous layers of your life, and your hate for Monday could just be a symptom of a greater problem.

So, how do you go about identifying the issue and solving it?

  • Ask yourself, “Can I do this job/career for ten, twenty, thirty more years?” If your answer is “No,” follow up with, “What can I do to move my dream forward?”
  • If you don’t mind your job so much, not sleeping too much on the weekend would help.
  • Preparing in advance for your work on Monday — both psychologically and emotionally — can help you get over the “Monday blues.”
  • Re-assess your work hours and take longer breaks. You might be burned out without even realizing it.

“Work’s pretty hectic. I slept only two hours last night.”

If one of your co-workers says this, what would be your first instinct? You might feel bad you spent the evening relaxing while your colleague was well on their path to advancing on their professional journey.

Envy in the workplace is not uncommon at all, especially when one colleague is perceived to be working harder than others.

The issue here is not envy. The issue is how the world has convinced us that working hard all the time is healthy. And how easily people — especially millennials — are willing to believe it.

Research suggests that regardless of our reasons for working long hours, overwork doesn’t result in more output. It can lead to several mental health issues like impaired sleep, stress, depression, and anxiety.

“The story of overwork is literally a story of diminishing returns: keep overworking, and you’ll progressively work more stupidly on tasks that are increasingly meaningless.”
— Sarah Carmichael, Harvard Business Review

How to get over it

  • Aim to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Taking frequent breaks has been scientifically proven to boost productivity.
  • Connect and collaborate with your co-workers to root out envy—work smart instead of working hard.
  • If your ambition drives you to work all the time, define a maximum. An “I’ll try to earn as much money as I can” mindset might not be sustainable. Instead, have a specific goal, and once that’s achieved, you can take the rest of the time to yourself.
  • If your passion fuels you to work long hours, understand that taking breaks can help too. As performance coach and licensed social worker, Melody J. Wilding writes, “schedule your day creatively by using enjoyable personal or social activities to sandwich your to-do list. For example, make plans to attend an art class or meet a friend after work to put a hard stop on the time you leave the office. Limiting the amount of time you have available to crush your tasks can push your focus through the roof.”

“I need some retail therapy right now.”

Retail therapy is the act of buying things you don’t necessarily need to relieve yourself of stress or sadness. This has become the norm among young people today, leading to a culture rooted in consumerism (a social and economic order that encourages the acquisition of goods and services in ever-increasing amounts).

Compared to people in 1957, Americans today own twice as many cars per person, eat out twice as often and enjoy endless other commodities that weren’t around then — big-screen TVs, microwave ovens, SUVs, and handheld wireless devices.

Researchers from the Pennsylvania State University studied the shopping habits of 407 adults and found that unplanned shopping helps relieve bad moods. This good mood seems to last well past the purchase.

If shopping helps, why is this a bad habit?

According to Healthline, “If you consistently use shopping to cope with distress, it can become a less than ideal way of dealing with what’s troubling you, whether that’s a huge assignment at work or serious issues in your relationship.”

Consumerism can result in cheap, low-quality products and huge waste generation as these keep getting discarded. Not only does this burden the planet with large volumes of waste and deplete a lot of natural resources, but it also might force you to overspend and end up in debt.

How to get over it

  • If you’re upset, try embracing your sadness. Understanding the core issue and working on it might be a better solution than distracting yourself by shopping.
  • Don’t let yourself get manipulated by advertisement campaigns and social media strategies designed to make you spend more.
  • Keep reminding yourself how privileged you are, so you don’t need to buy more stuff to feel validated.
  • Try window shopping first. Browsing items or adding them to an online shopping cart appears to have similar benefits. Your mood might significantly lift just by seeing what’s available for purchase.

Closing Notes

The so-called role models you have might actually be setting the wrong kind of goals for you. If your world has led you to believe that hating Mondays, working too hard, and shopping to relieve stress are normal, maybe it’s time to take a step back and reassess your beliefs.

Doing these things once in a while is okay as long as you don’t let it become the norm.

Going overboard with a habit is never a good idea.

In the end, the trick is to seek balance in whatever you do.

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