Are you feeling disconnected? Has the pandemic left you feeling more isolated and withdrawn? Do you crave the connections you have been missing? The past year has been incredibly challenging, flush with uncertainty, conflict and ever-changing recommendations and opinions about what you should do to best take care of yourself. For those of you who identify as young adults or millennials, your lives have been wrought with national crises, from 9/11 to the recession of 2008, and now the pandemic over the past year and a half. You would not be remiss in asking yourself, “What does it all mean?”
The Link Between Uncertainty and Anxiety or Depression
Conflict and uncertainty can often lead you to an experience of anxiety or depression, or losing your purpose in life. It may begin with poor sleep and appetite, changes in routine that may be less healthy, withdrawal from your most valued relationships, and troubles at work or school. As a culture, you are often taught to “just work harder” or “suck it up”, but we all know that these are merely simple phrases meant to deflect from your discomfort of not really knowing exactly what you need, or what action you should take. And this is often when the nasty cycle of anxiety and depression begins. You cannot sleep, so you are less competent, and eventually less confident, in the work you do, which often leads to poor sleep, unhealthy habits and isolation. This then leads to you feeling either anxious or depressed, and eventually both.
How Anxiety and Depression Affects Young Adults
For those of you who become anxious, you may tend to ignore the present and focus on the future, in hopes of feeling better, if you just accomplish that next task, or meet that next deadline. For those of you prone to depression, you focus on the past and all the things you think you could have done better, and punish yourself for not doing so. You fall back on all of the messages you were given during your upbringing, and the “shoulds” that would make life better, but never seem to do. Such is the cycle of anxiety and depression.
Those who are constantly anxious will eventually become depressed, out of sheer exhaustion, and those who are depressed will become anxious about the possibility that the depression will never end. You begin to operate on auto-pilot, and your focus becomes almost entirely on the external tasks you “should” complete, all the while knowing that what you really “should” do is take care of yourself, but “you don’t have the time”, right?
What’s Next Then?
So, maybe I have clearly identified the problem. Likely if you are reading this, you are saying to yourself “yeah, I know all of THAT…. now what am I supposed to do about it?” While I am not sure I have the perfect answer, I do really believe that rather than finding meaning, we have to actually “make” meaning in our lives. You are a social being, and often the way you make meaning is through meaningful connections and relationships. Our culture in general, with a work-first focus, makes prioritizing relationships difficult to begin with, but with the past year, you have all literally had some of your most valued relationships ripped away from you. You have not been able to see or hug your loved ones, you have missed graduations, weddings, and all of the life events that bring you not only joy, but hope for humanity. You have all been traumatized, and I think it is time that we acknowledge this openly and honestly. Here are some tips for managing your anxiety and depression, and making meaning in your life:
Sleep, eat, drink water, and try to go for a walk every day
Identify your closest people of support, and make it a priority to call them
Remember your favorite hobbies, and make it a priority to re-engage
Find something new to learn (not to achieve but rather to enjoy)
Consider talking with a therapist or joining a group
When you are traumatized, depressed and/or anxious, you tend to withdraw from your most energizing activities and supportive relationships, so naturally, the most simple answer to “what do I do about it?” is to reconnect. Reconnect with your health, with your hobbies, and your relationships. As social beings, you will feel better when you have healthy relationships. You’ll get support, enjoy the satisfaction of supporting and being there for one another, and even develop a network of people to rely on when you are feeling at your worst, while challenging one another to be our best self when we are our strongest. Through these relationships, you will make meaning about what this thing we call “Life” is all about.
How We Can Help
We are currently enrolling for our Meaningful Connections Group!
Are you a young adults who is ready to go from over-extending yourself or feeling down to purposeful self-care and finding meaning in your life choices? Learn how to manage your stress and mood while making meaningful connections with others!
If you are looking for general support, or if you would like to talk to someone more about how we can help you, follow these simple steps:
Contact us today for a free 20-minute phone consultation
Begin your journey towards a calmer, more relaxed life
Other Therapy Services Available at Catalyss Counseling:
Here at Catalyss Counseling, we want to meet all of your counseling needs in the Denver area. Our supportive therapists provide depression counseling, therapy for caregiver stress, grief and loss therapy, stress management counseling and more. We also have specialists in trauma and PTSD, women's issues, pregnancy and postpartum depression or anxiety, pregnancy loss and miscarriage, and birth trauma. For therapists, we can also provide clinical supervision! We look forward to connecting with you to help support your journey today.
Chris Campassi is a psychotherapist, clinical supervisor, and blogger. Chris helps adults in the areas of depression, anxiety, severe and persistent mental illnesses, grief and loss, emergency evaluations and interventions, assessment, and diagnosing. Follow Catalyss Counseling on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.