The millennial workforce is different from other generations. Millennials were born 1980-95. They are confident but impatient. Millennials are entrepreneurial, socially tolerant, and tech savy. Millennials are also the generation that has more workplace depression than any previous generation.
Millennials are realistic
Millennials are realistic about their careers. Having entered the workforce during the recession and at a time when automatization is replacing many jobs, millennials are the first generation in a long time to be worse off than their parents. Millennials want jobs that are stable, with transferable skills because that particular job might not exist in the future. Millennials also want jobs that are balances. This means meaningful work, a sense of accomplishment, and compensation. It is plausible that millennials are and will continue to change the way workplaces operate.
Depression affects millennials more than any other generation. According to a study on depression and the workplace, depression affects 70% millennials, 68% of Gen X and 63% of boomers. That’s one out of five millennials suffering with depression. This means more millennials are suffering from depression than any previous generation. Maybe millennials aren’t lazy or lacking a work ethic, but are suffering the effects of a world that spews hatred, fear, and negativity.
Millennials and Depression in the workplace
Millennials are those born between 1978 and 1999. In today’s world, millennials are having a tough time finding jobs because of unemployment or automatization of the workplace. Its not surprising that feelings of anxiety, uselessness, and depression take root.
Imagine working a 40 day week but not getting paid. That’s what many millennials are doing – working for free as interns in jobs that give them references. What happens to rent and food? The old joke of living in your parents basement only goes so far when you want to be independent but the employers like the idea of free labour.
More than two-thirds of depressed millennials report that, while their symptoms may not be severe enough to keep them home, their capacity for quality work is greatly diminished even if they do manage to shamble into the office.
Depression, Not Malaise
Maybe instead of malaise or laziness, millennials are depressed. Based on a survey of 300,000 Americans, 12.4% of unemployed people say they are depressed. Millennials began their working lives when the US was in recession. No jobs when you graduate can be depressing.
It’s a vicious cycle. Depression leads to worsening job performance, which leads to unemployment, which leads to further depression. Add in outside factors like the economy and automatization, and depression deepens.
Millennials literally grew up with tech. But social media and its accessibility via smartphones has created individual isolation. Millennials use tech as a means to socially connect. But the information can get to be too much. The relentless exposure of friends’ and neighbours’ newsfeeds, creates a tendency to obsess over everybody else’s highlight reel. This obsessing makes one feel less secure about personal accomplishments and life.
Then there’s the difference in the spirituality of millennials and other generations. Millennials flourish in workplaces where people are valued, but not in corporate workplaces that value money not people. If you scoff at the idea of spirituality affecting people in the workplace, stop and consider this. In the US there have been numerous debates about letting crosses be worn publicly in the workplace or using the word ‘Christmas’. Spirituality matters, because religion has a way of creeping into any workplace.
It’s Time To Rethink “Work Culture”
Maybe its not the fault of millennials that they are more depressed at work than any other generation. Maybe we need to rethink the workplace culture. Reboot it. Ask ourselves, “What do we really value? What does social progress really look like?”
We don’t need to worship economic growth. Nor do millennials need a kick in the pants to jump start their work ethic. The workplace itself needs to change. The workplace needs to grow, morph into something that works for its employees, focusing more on people than money. It’s an idealistic vision.
But remember history. Workplaces used to be family run businesses, then grew into community workplaces. Before the Industrial Revolution, people were valued more than the profits they gained. Workers had pride in their products and passed on skills to apprentices. Maybe this is what millennials will be morphing workplaces into.
Mindfulness brings awareness to what you are doing. With that clarity comes the possibility of choice. You can learn to intercept unhelpful, unwanted habits and cultivate positive ones. As you learn to do that with meditation, you can translate it to any activity, whether it’s playing sports, writing computer code, or listening to your child when they come home from school.
A Ten Minute Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness has been practiced for thousands of years through meditation. Meditation is a lab for the mind that produces awareness in a concentrated form.
This exercise is a meditation that will help you strengthen your capacity for awareness so that you can cultivate mindfulness in your daily life.
- Find a place where you can be undisturbed for at least ten minutes. Sitting in a chair where you can be upright yet relaxed, assume a comfortable posture. Allow your body to be at ease.
- Gently close your eyes and turn your attention inward. Sense how your body feels in this moment. Mindfulness is a quality of attention that’s allowing, inviting, curious about what is. So as you pay attention to your body, see if you can bring a quality of attention that’s accepting and allowing of how things are in this moment.
- Move your attention through your whole body, noticing where you may be holding any unnecessary tension, inviting your belly and shoulders to relax, softening the muscles around your eyes and face, relaxing your jaw.
- Sit with awareness of your body, and notice that it is naturally breathing by itself, your breath effortlessly coming and going. Allow your breath to be exactly as it is, and bring your full attention to it. Notice how your breathing is in this moment. Is it long or short, deep or shallow, relaxed or tense? Notice how your breath changes each time you breathe.
- Be with your breath as though you were encountering it for the first time, as if this were the first breath you ever took.
- Notice where you feel your breath most clearly. Is it at the nostrils as the cool air enters and warm air leaves your nose? Or in the back of your throat? Or in the lifting and expanding of your upper chest when you inhale or the contraction of your chest when you exhale? Or perhaps in the rising and falling of your abdomen?
- Establish your attention in the place where you feel your breath most clearly. Pay attention to the full duration of an in breath and an out breath. Stay present if there’s a pause between breaths; simply be aware of your body sitting until the next in breath comes. When you notice sounds appearing and disappearing, sensations arising and passing, emotions, thoughts, and images coming and going, just acknowledge them and then bring your attention back to your breath.
- If it is helpful, you can make a soft mental note of “in” when you inhale and “out” when you exhale. Make sure the mental note takes only about 5 percent of your attention and that the majority of your focus is on feeling the actual sensations of your breath.
- If your attention becomes absorbed in thoughts, memories, or plans, simply reestablish a connection with your breath. When you notice that thinking is happening, that itself is a moment of mindfulness. There is no need to judge yourself; just bring your attention back to your breath.
- As a way of deepening your attention to your breath, focus on the very beginning of an in breath. Gently sustain your attention just for that one in breath. Then notice the beginning of an out breath, and sustain your attention just for that one out breath.
- No matter how many times your attention wanders or how far you become lost in thought, it takes only a moment to return to mindfulness, to the present moment. Return to the present moment by reestablishing a connection with your body and then reconnecting with your breath.
- It’s natural for the mind to think. Mindfulness practice is coming into wise relationship with thought and with everything that happens in your experience. So without judgment or criticism, bring your attention back again and reestablish a connection with your breath. Connect and sustain your attention with each in breath and each out breath. Notice how each breath is different from the previous one. Allow your awareness to be absorbed by and permeate each breath. Pay attention to the fine sensations and nuances of your changing breath. If you find yourself becoming tense or trying to control your breath, relax a little, making sure there ’s ease in your body.
- In the last few minutes of the meditation, let go of what’s gone on before and just begin again. Allow yourself to simply be aware of sitting and breathing. Rest in this natural awareness of your breath as it comes and goes.
- As you begin to bring this meditation to a close, take a moment to sense your body, your heart, and your mind. Notice the effect of this exercise.
- When you feel ready to end this meditation, slowly open your eyes, and gently move and stretch.
Bring the same quality of mindful attention you used in this meditation to everything you encounter. See if you can sustain this mindfulness as you move through your day. Remember that the more you do mindfulness training, the more you’ll be able to bring mindful awareness into the rest of your life.
*original article by Mark Coleman
What exactly is mindfulness? The simplest definition is “clear awareness.” It’s the ability to be present, consciously knowing what’s happening in your experience, moment by moment. You can apply that attention to your mind, body, or environment. Mindfulness is a state of mind and a quality that you can develop through practice. Although we all have access to this quality, it takes patience and perseverance for it to become part of the fabric of who you are.
How Present Are You?
You may think that you are already aware of what’s going on moment to moment in your life. That’s true on one level. But if you take a closer look, you will see there are many times in the day when you’re not fully present in the moment. Your mind drifts to other topics. Or you ignore things that are ‘extra’ to the information your mind is processing.
Take an ordinary activity like driving. How many times have you driven the same route? If someone asks you how many houses are on one block, you won’t be able to remember. Memory partly depends on attention, and if you are not mindful, not conscious of driving past houses, (what is happening as it is happening), then you’re probably on autopilot. This is one of the reasons we don’t remember much.
The Multitasking Brain
Autopilot is what happens when you’ve done something, like walk, drive, or do the dishes, so many times you don’t need to focus on it anymore. It almost does itself. So, as you’re doing that activity, you start to space out or think about things like your to-do list or the top ten tunes. Or you think about what to cook for dinner or the problems in your relationship. Whatever it is, your attention is not on what you’re doing. It’s elsewhere.
This divided focus has been referred to as “constant partial attention.” It is your multitasking brain, which allows you to do more than one thing at a time. Often your brain does this to get through all the demands of your busy day. The result is that you are not very present in the moment. That is the opposite of being mindful.
Inattention to the moment can be dangerous. Texting while driving causes 330,000 injuries every year. Cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year.
Multitasking Dosen’t Help You
Multitasking doesn’t help you get more done or be more efficient. Research shows that multitasking on the job diminishes both your efficiency and the quality of your work. Even worse, multitasking releases the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, which can lead to all kinds of health problems.
A large study conducted by Harvard Medical School turned up some surprising results about the effects of not paying attention. Researchers asked people in the study three questions as they went about their day: “What are you doing?” “Are you paying attention to it?” “How do you feel?” They tracked several thousand people over a period of weeks, checking in on them by phone throughout the day and asking them those three questions.
They discovered that, on average, participants were not present 46.9 percent of the day. If you sleep roughly a third of the day and are only present half of your waking hours, then by the time you are sixty, you’ve only been awake and present for twenty years! That’s a lot of time lost.
You’re Happier When You Pay Attention
What was perhaps more important in the findings was that people reported feeling happier when they were present, even if the activity was a mundane chore like laundry, washing dishes, or ironing. The study revealed that, again contrary to popular belief, people are not happier when they space out or daydream during a dull activity. So next time you are cleaning the house, walking the dog, or taking a long drive in your car, give it your full attention and see for yourself what happens.
*original article by Mark Coleman