This morning’s Sydney Morning Herald published an article called “Generation Overstimulation? Generation Y’s addiction to being busy,” and just from the title, I could already see that it has a point.
The article suggests that Gen Y-ers are addicted to having too much to do. Their lifestyles are all about overstimulation: juggling the multiple components of their lives with hardly a moment of silence or downtime. And while this seems to be leading to higher levels of stress, being less busy would also lead to anxiety – but more the stress of feeling inadequate and like they’re slipping behind as compared to their peers.
So what are the statistics? 49 per cent of young people report high levels of stress, over 80 per cent are aware that their physical health suffers, and more than 70 per cent know that their social and personal time, as well as emotional or mental state, is bearing the brunt.
I describe it in the third person but as Gen Y, I can definitely see this trend in myself and my peers. Take something as simple as watching television – the urge to be scanning my Facebook feed, doing my nails and having a cuppa at the same time can be overwhelming. I find it an actual effort to just focus on the show and leave it at that. Even when supposedly relaxing, say lying on the beach or actually getting into bed at a decent hour, we’re more likely to scroll through Instagram (keeping our brains overloaded with information) than just soak in our surrounds or let our mind be alone with its thoughts.
What’s right and what’s wrong in this culture of over-busyness? As with most things, I think the key is balance. Our society is overstimulated – there’s something to entertain us all the time. We’re not so great at stopping to smell the roses, and if we are, we’re probably Snapchatting it to all of our friends and waiting for their responses.
Here’s the thing: I think that being busy is a good thing. I am definitely one of those people that enjoys being busy, despite the fact that I have colleagues who tell me off for having something on every night of the week, and pretty packed weekends (for me though, being busy was a habit learned – as someone who tends toward laziness, if I wasn’t busy, there’s a high chance that I’d be in my pyjamas all day, watching episode after episode of some brain-cell-wasting show). And I figure, isn’t it better to be filling life up with enriching activities and great people, rather than sitting it out on the couch?
Basically, I think there’s a good kind of busy – a happy medium between bored and hectic, that Gen Y-ers would do well to strive for. I think it is possible to live a busy life and not get stressed! Here are my three pointers:
• Live in the present moment as much as possible. For example, focus on that friend that you’re catching up with, rather than checking your emails at the same time. Obviously there are moments where multitasking is the efficient thing to do, but I think that giving your attention to one thing at a time will leave you a lot calmer.
• Leave a little room for silence. It’s an amazing world that we live in, but it is one where we have constant access to new information and entertainment. This means a lot less time for silence, which is really the only way to be alone with your thoughts and pause for self-reflection – which is what we need to know ourselves better and grow as a person.
• Know your limits. When every day is a grumpy one and all you want to do is sleep, there’s a high chance that your run of being busy is calling for a break. Learn to recognise this and slow down, or keep energised with more exercise, more sleep and nutritious food.