15% off €35

Use code:GET15

A young person sitting on a bench with their head in their hands

Is anxiety a common millennial generation trait?

23 Nov 2022 • 3 min read


It could possibly be, but before we delve into answering this key question, we’d like to spend just a minute or two briefly explaining what we mean by the term ‘millennial generation.’

If you’re a ‘millennial’ then you were born between the early 1980s and 1990s (from 1981 to 1996, to be more precise).1 Millennials are also referred to as Generation Y because it comes after Generation X – the generation of people who were born between the early 1960s and the 1980s.2

So now we’ve established what millennials are, what are some of the typical traits associated with the millennial generation? Obviously, not everybody from this era are carbon copies of each other, but there are some similar characteristics they share that have been widely reported on. 

Common traits of millennials

According to the Pew Research Center for Social and Demographic Trends, millennials are:

  • Better educated
  • Getting married later in life
  • Slower than previous generations at settling down

They are also more likely to be living at home with their parents for much longer than the generations before them.3

But that’s just an overview, let’s take a look at some of those key research findings in a bit more detail:

  • Millennials and education

Most millennials have a better education than their grandparents. Around four in ten aged between 25 and 37 having a Bachelor’s Degree or higher qualification.

What’s more, millennial men are more educated than their predecessors, while more millennial women hold a Bachelor’s Degree than millennial men.

  • Millennials and employment

More than 70% of millennial women have jobs. Meanwhile, millennial workers are just as likely to stick with their employers just as much as Gen X workers did when they were the same age. Around seven in ten millennials, aged between 22 and 37 in 2018 (70%) and Gen Xers the same age in 2002 (69%) reported working for their current employer at least 13 months.

And around three in ten from both groups said they’d been with their employer for at least five years.

  • Millennials and income

Millennials’ individual earnings have remained mostly flat over the past 50 years. There’s also a large gap in earnings between millennials who have a college education and those who don’t.

When it comes to household wealth, millennials appear to have accumulated slightly less than older generations had at the same age.

What are the attitudes of millennials?

We’ve taken a quick deep-dive into some of the common traits shared by millennials, but what about some of those millennial-defining attitudes that have contributed towards the generation being so widely talked about and having such an impact on everyday life?

Ipsos published a report, ’The 5 Truths That Define Millennials’ on this very subject. Here are some of the key findings from that piece of research:

  1. Millennials expect a stage on which their voice can be heard – they get satisfaction from sharing their opinions and believe brands should get their input before creating new products.
  2. They love to be consumed by and share content online, especially videos on YouTube – they happen to be sharing more content than ever before, far more than any other generation.
  3. The generation uses images more than text to communicate – they’re the most likely of any generation to post photos or comments about products, retailers and brands on social media sites.
  4. Millennials are incredibly mobile-savvy – according to a study carried out by Ipsos in collaboration with Google, on a typical day the smartphone is the main device that reaches 18 to 34-year-olds the most.
  5. They’re hyper-connected - social media outweighs email for communicating. On an average day, millennials share roughly six pieces of content through social media, and only five through email.

Millennials and feeling anxious - a common trait?

Millennials also have something else in common too – anxiety.

In fact, the millennial generation happens to be facing an anxiety crisis right now. A recent study found that while general levels of anxiety across society have increased, it’s people in this age group who are suffering the most, with women nearly twice as likely to be affected as men.

Don’t get us wrong, being stressed CAN be useful. Our body’s fight or flight response to an actual, tangible threat is what’s helped us to stay alive – and stress is something everyone experiences from time to time. However, anxiety, in contrast, is the anticipation of unpredictable impending threats – these threats can be unlikely, or even fantastical.

Exposure to stress for too long can often morph into anxiety, as the brain becomes hardwired to live in fear. If you’re always worrying the absolute worst is about to happen, that’s ‘catastrophising’, and it can have a negative effect on your physical, as well as mental, health.

Handpicked content: About stress and how you can manage yours

What’s caused anxiety within the millennial generation?

It’s no surprise really – job insecurity, massive student debt, economic, political and environmental insecurity, concerns about the future of the planet, the emotional merry-go-round of online dating, not to mention rising fears about global terrorism…4

Then there’s the constant, always-on, LOOK AT ME demands of social media where the pressure is on to post an endless stream of enviable shots of Size 8 you and your Insta-glam life, when the reality’s more beans on toast, Netflix and worrying about the bills.

Ironically, we’re also experiencing too much choice. Research shows that people with restricted choice are more resilient because they can blame other people – or life in general – when they make a wrong decision.5 If you make a wrong decision when you have a wide choice, the onus is on you, and there is no one to blame but yourself. This is increasingly resulting in us obsessing about making the right decision. Anxiety’s a social illness and it’s not going anywhere in a hurry.

However, while you may not be able to control general global uncertainty, there are small steps you can take that can have a surprisingly big impact on making you feel better.

Steps for generation Y to manage anxiety

  • Meditation

Mindfulness meditation can help you escape negative thought patterns and bring you bang into the here and now, so you’re “living in the moment” and not fretting about the future. Research suggests you only need to practise for 10 minutes a day (#easywin) – so there’s no excuse not to give this one a go!6,7

Basic meditation for beginners

1. Get comfortable and prepare to sit still for a few minutes. Then take a minute to just simply focus on your own natural inhaling and exhaling of breath. Try not to think about anything else right now.

2. Focus on your breath. Where do you feel your breath most? In your belly? In your nose? Try to keep your attention on your inhale and exhale.

3. Follow your breath for two minutes. Take a deep inhale, expanding your belly, and then exhale slowly, elongating the out-breath as your belly contracts.8

Read more: Five ways mindfulness meditation can boost your wellbeing

  • Sleep

Sleeping less than eight hours each night is linked to experiencing intrusive, repetitive thoughts, often seen in people with anxiety disorders or depression.9 Make getting a proper rest each night your top priority!

Tips for falling asleep quicker

  1. Make sure your bedroom is cool (between 15.6 and 19.4°C).
  2. Focus on taking calm and steady breaths – read up about the 4-7-8 breathing method, which is particularly effective.
  3. Wake up and go to bed at around the same time every day.
  4. Practice yoga, meditation and mindfulness whenever you can.
  5. Take any clocks out of your room (this will stop you from clock-watching).
  6. Avoid taking naps during the day.
  7. Don’t eat a meal just before you go to bed.
  8. Listen to relaxing music.
  9. Exercise during the day.
  10. Avoid using any electrical devices, tablets, smartphone etc, in bed.

Read more: The importance of sleep

  • Eat healthy

Studies have shown magnesium may have a positive effect on anxiety. Try packing more magnesium-rich foods such as almonds, dark green leafy vegetables and cashew nuts into your diet – your brain will thank you for it!10

Read more: Does low magnesium mess with your blood sugar?

  • Exercise

When your mind is in that vicious worry spiral, you’ll probably just want to curl up on the sofa and stuff your head beneath the cushions, but getting active will fire up those feel-good hormones – just the ticket for busting anxiety.11

Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, in 30-minute stints. And it doesn’t mean you have to hit the gym either; grab a friend and go for a brisk walk, as research shows spending just 30 minutes a week surrounded by nature can reduce anxiety and support your mental health.12

  • Smells

There’s scientific evidence that shows certain smells can change your mental state. Researchers found that applying lemon balm oil to patients’ faces and arms twice a day reduced their agitation by a whopping 35 per cent.13 Neroli oil and lavender oil have also shown promising anxiety-reducing abilities. Book yourself in for a luxurious aromatherapy massage, or order some oils to self-treat at home – you’ll soon melt away your worries (and you’ll sleep like a baby too).

Read more: The many essential oil benefits you're missing out on

A few final words….

Millennials are a generation that’s already achieved a lot in a relatively short space of time, but that doesn’t mean they’re not susceptible to the same pressures and issues as the generations that have come before them. Anxiety among millennials can be down to a wide range of factors, ranging from employment, finances and politics, to more up-and-coming pressures, such as social perception and social media status.  

Now that you’re here (you may be a millennial or know a millennial who would benefit from reading this article), have a read of this, ‘How to spend less time on social media.’

Last updated: 13 April 2021



Author: Bhupesh PanchalSenior Regulatory Affairs Associate

Joined Holland & Barrett: Apr 2019

Masters Degree in Toxicology and BSc Hons in Medical Biochemistry

Bhupesh started his career as a Clinical Toxicologist for Public Health England, advising healthcare professionals all around the country on how to manage clinical cases of adverse exposure to supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and agricultural products.

After 7 years in this role and a further year working as a drug safety officer in the pharmaceutical industry, Bhupesh joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.

Read more
  • Visa
  • MasterCard
  • AmericanExpress
  • PayPal
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
Copyright © Holland & Barrett Limited, 2023. All rights reserved. hollandandbarrett.ie is a trading name of Holland & Barrett Limited. Registered office: 45 Henry Street, Dublin, Dublin 1, D01 E9X8. Registered in Ireland: Company no. 79819. Registered VAT no. 4682002U.