3 challenges faced by millennials in this new reality
Everyone is negatively affected by the coronavirus crisis, but we millennials have a specific set of challenges related to this new reality we find ourselves in. This is due to the following, amongst others:
- we constitute over a third (!) of the global workforce,
- 90.4% of us use social media daily,
- 17% of us suffer from depression and 14% from anxiety.
Therefore, any changes in working conditions are likely to impact millennials more severely, even more time spent on social media can increase pressure, thereby creating or worsening mental health issues.
1. Working from home leads to a decrease in motivation and productivity. This is completely normal because your whole working environment has changed. You’re far more likely to get distracted (especially if you have children who now have to stay at home with you) and you might not have an ideal practical set-up, leading to a mindset that isn’t conducive to maximizing productivity.
3. The crisis may amplify existing mental and emotional issues. Anxiety, stress, imposter syndrome and other negative feelings and thought patterns will surface. The uncertainty of the COVID19 situation, like what’ll happen to your career or to your future in general, has an increasingly negative effect on your mental and emotional well-being the longer it drags on.
Solutions for the 3 challenges posed by the coronavirus crisis
How to deal with working from home and improve your productivity
1. Write handwritten to-do lists
Handwriting has several benefits over typing here: it has been proven that information is retained better when it is written down by hand than typed. In addition, people who write down their goals and tasks by hand are 33% more likely to achieve them.
2. Start your working day with a (video) call
Choose a friendly client or a colleague whom you get on well with to have a nice chat before starting with your work tasks. This human interaction will boost your happiness hormones and get you into a positive mindset at the beginning of the day. A word of caution though: choose your interlocutor wisely!
3. Turn off your notifications
Working from home already provides you with enough distractions without you adding to the mix with a phone that’s constantly lighting up or vibrating (if you don’t have your phone on silent, you’re not a real millennial). The increased focus without all the notifications will also help improve your productivity.
Don’t just dress nicely, dress to impress! Dressing up for your work day can boost your confidence, introduce a routine and create a more business-like environment. You’ll also come across more confident to whoever’s on the other side of your calls (even without video).
5. Schedule everything in your calendar
And we mean everything! Scheduling both your work and private activities in your calendar has multiple benefits: it’s easier to hold yourself accountable when there’s a designated slot for a particular task, you can set clear boundaries between work and non-work time if your calendar is visible to your colleagues, it lends some structure to your day, and it can give you something to look forward to (if you add fun activities).
6. Set goals & quick wins
Goal-setting has been proven to improve self-confidence, motivation and feeling of autonomy. Additionally, reaching these goals will increase your overall happiness, which we all need more of right now.
7. Extra work from home hacks
Use a front light during video calls to illuminate your face (it also makes your teeth look whiter). Put thought into the background you want to show, you can enhance it with some artwork, for example. Keep the blood flowing to your brain with an under-desk pedal. This way, you can exercise and think more efficiently, double-win!
How to set up your new daily routine and recreate some structure in your life
8. Incorporate more mindfulness into your life and practice staying in the now
9. Revamp your habits and adapt them to the current situation
Underpin the life you envision for yourself in this situation with healthy habits. What does that mean? Set habits that are in line with your character, physical/mental health, and personal life. A paper published by Duke University found that more than 40% of the actions people performed every day weren’t actual, conscious decisions, but habits.
10. Start a gratitude journal
Practicing gratitude daily releases happiness hormones and augments your self-esteem. Every day, write down the things you’re grateful for right now. These could be things ranging from your family to a nice meal you ate. To take things a step further, you can practice daily gratitude with your partner or other loved ones. Every day at a set time, tell each other one thing that you’re grateful for in the other. Schedule it in your calendar and make it a habit!
11. Turn FOMO into JOMO
Instead of the Fear Of Missing Out, try practicing the Joy Of Missing Out. Avoid social media comparison and the pressure of “making the most out of it”. There’s no need to learn a new language, start a programming course, and take up Zumba on YouTube because others are doing it and posting it on Instagram. It’s ok to take it easy, and protecting your mental and emotional well-being above all else (apart from social distancing) is crucial.
12. Practice smiling
Smiling, even if it’s fake, signals to your brain that you’re doing well. It might feel silly, but try to smile for a few seconds after waking up in the morning. This habit can set your brain up for a great day ahead!
How to practice self-care and increase your mental & emotional well-being
13. Challenge your struggles constructively
Learn and apply the tried and tested CTFAR (Circumstances – Thoughts – Feelings – Actions – Results) model. It’ll help you challenge your negative thoughts. The model can give structure to your thoughts and bring more clarity. We cover the CTFAR model extensively in our Coping with Anxiety course.
14. Don't give the imposter syndrome power over you
The definition of Imposter Syndrome is: the persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills. Studies suggest that up to 70% of people experience the Imposter Syndrome to some extent. This may lead to or worsen anxiety and even cause depression.
The COVID-19 crisis may trigger the Imposter Syndrome due to working from home and not getting a full picture of how colleagues are doing. Another contributing factor may be the feeling of being unproductive and the inability to attain tangible work achievements.
15. Do "hand work" and express your creativity
Most of us are now working virtually, so creating something tangible can feel satisfying. Activities like knitting, drawing/coloring, making bracelets, and other crafts, can lower your cortisol (stress hormone) levels, and they can boost your attention during virtual meetings. If you’re like me and you find it difficult to focus on a screen without doing something with your hands, this solution is for you!