These are the signs you’re experiencing millennial burnout
And yes, it’s pretty serious
Do you feel exhausted but unable to relax? Are you switched on all the time? Are you making lists just to keep on top of every day life? Do you feel inadequate or like you haven't achieved enough? Do you keep comparing yourself to others? Is there always a pressure to achieve more and more and more? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be experiencing millennial burnout symptoms.
What is millennial burnout?
Millennial burnout is the idea that young people today are so mentally exhausted, they can't seem to find a way to rest or relax because of the ever-changing social, economic and technological conditions around us.
Traditional burnout is caused by complex environments and stressors, couples with high expectations create the conditions. Many believe that millennial burnout symptoms draw on perfectionism largely propagated by social media and is enhanced by challenging economic conditions.
It's worth nothing that perfectionists, especially the self-critical type, are at a greater risk of burnout.
What are millennial burnout symptoms?
Millennial burnout symptoms aren't definitive, as it is not an officially recognised condition. People who have experienced millennial burnout have said they've experienced the following:
– Over-expectation from society and social media
– A feeling where you feel like you're not allowed to be tired
– Feeling like every aspect of your life needs to be perfect
– Feeling guilty for doing nothing
– Feeling like you always have to achieve something
– Small tasks seem daunting
– Being tired but unable to find rest or relax
– Pure emotional exhaustion
– Information overload
– Feelings of inadequacy
– Constantly comparing yourself to others
– Feeling like you have to answer emails, messages and calls immediately and never being able to switch off
– Performing well at uni or work, but your personal life seems to be falling apart
– Constantly setting yourself unattainable targets
Millennial burnout isn't a medically recognised diagnosis, but the idea was recently popularised after a Buzzfeed article, titled "How Millennials Became The Burnout Generation", went viral.
The author Anne Helen Petersen thinks millennial burnout is often characterised by "errand paralysis", when minor tasks like sending your ASOS returns, washing the dishes or writing an email seem impossible.
She writes: “None of these tasks were that hard. It’s not as if I were slacking in the rest of my life. But when it came to the mundane, the medium priority, the stuff that wouldn’t make my job easier or my work better, I avoided it.
"The more I tried to figure out my errand paralysis, the more the actual parameters of burnout began to reveal themselves… It’s not limited to workers in acutely high-stress environments. And it’s not a temporary affliction: It’s the millennial condition.”
So what are millennial burnout symptoms in young people like? I spoke to Sarah, a 21-year-old, who thinks millennial burnout impacts her life on a daily basis. She said: "I'm always thinking about all the things I could be doing that I'm not, and often feel guilty about not working on stuff.
"Even then, when I have a to-do list sometimes the most minor things stay on there for literal months because I just feel paralysed by the idea that there could be more important things to do.
"My stress peaked last Christmas and I spent about two hours being sad and talking to my parents about how stressed I was. It was triggered by seeing how insanely successful a journalist who was the same age as me was. I somehow started to feel ashamed of relaxing with my family on Christmas Day, which upon reflection seems absolutely ridiculous."
Edinburgh University student, Phoebe, told me: "Given that our parents' generation no longer regards 'just' obtaining a university degree as a substantial achievement, along with the fact that most employers are now looking for that extra something (without being able to give us an indication of what that is) in order to stand out from the sea of graduates, I am suffering from millennial burnout.
"In order to distinguish myself from my academic equals I am throwing myself into extra curricular activities left right and centre, as well as maintaining two part time jobs just to fund my social life.
"I feel as though we are told by our parents 'not to take too much on' and to 'remember to have your work life balance', but the reality is that we won't have anything if we don't throw ourselves into opportunities that will diversify our CVs from just being A-grade students at top universities.
"And because of this we are never able to switch off because there's always something that needs to be done."
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, help and support is available. Call Mind on 0300 123 3393 (weekdays 9am – 6pm) or contact your GP.