When I think about the words ‘holistic health’, an image of an old, white man wearing chakra balancing necklaces preaching New Age teachings comes to mind, and I want nothing to do with it. What does he know about my life? The existing materials and content around the subject take me to a world so removed from my own, I cannot connect to any of it’s offerings, and therefore, get zero benefit from the sector. But that needs to change.
As a black, female millennial in 2019, my life is hard, my friends’ lives are hard, and we’re all struggling to stay afloat. When the stress from looming bills, work security and happiness, relationships, body issues, past traumas, and lack of balance in my life started to pile up, I realized that I could not focus on one area while neglecting the others.
Drinking green juices didn’t eradicate the night terrors. Hitting the gym 5-6 days a week didn’t help nurture my relationships or teach me communication skills. Focusing on my debt and diving into budgeting didn’t help my work-life balance and career planning.
If I want a “good” life (and we all deserve one), I need to look at the total picture, and so do you. Here are five reasons why millennials need to care about the whole picture, and not just one part.
1. We’re ambitious AF
Let’s not kid ourselves, millennials are the most ambitious and hardest working age group out there today. We’re no longer happy with just a job, we need a lifestyle. We need side hustles. We need great friends, endless nights out, top salaries, to travel the world, and somehow manage 8 hours of sleep. We are literally doing the most and have no intention of stopping. So how do you cultivate balance in your life when you’re trying to rule the world and still show up for weekly brunches and nights out with your friends? You step into holistic living.
2. We Coined Burn Out Before Burnout Was a Thing
Okay, we didn’t ‘coin’ the word, but because of us, in 2019 the World Health Organization (you know, that major international organization that defines health conditions?) announced the official recognition of burnout, defining it as such:
“Burn-out is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions:
feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job; and
reduced professional efficacy.
Burn-out refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.” [source]
Think about it: we’re so overworked due to the demands of our jobs and the disconnect we feel that we now have a legitimate “occupational phenomenon” to identify with. Soooo, how are you caring for yourself?
3. The Instagram Effect
If you’re like any average millennial then you’re spending over 30-minutes a day on Instagram absorbing the highlight reels of all of your friends’ lives, as well as the lives of rich-ass people who live luxurious lives, making you feel less-than in comparison. Listen, I get it. I do it too! It’s half motivation, half depression-inducing, and 100% a waste of time, to be honest. But giving up the platform means pulling yourself out of the social game and, well, we’re millennials, and we can’t (but I will share ways to protect yourself on another blog post). How do you engage on the platform and prevent depression? No, really…how do you?
4. Student Loans + a Poor Economy + Extreme Competition
I don’t have to dive into the specific numbers to tell everyone what we already know: our generation was screwed. We didn’t get houses or assistance to buy them, our college degrees didn’t grant us well-paying jobs, and the minimum wage, which used to be enough to provide for a family, can’t even get us through a couple of weeks of expenses. The student loan debt is in the trillions with no sign of slowing down. We entered the game of life trading our minds and bodies in order to eat and sleep, leaving us exhausted, depressed, and burnt out (see #2!). If we continue this way much longer, will we have anything to preserve?
5. Hustle is Real
Name one millennial paying all of their bills, setting aside enough in savings for an emergency fund, travel fund, and retirement, seeing friends regularly (1-2x/week), in a healthy relationship, and climbing the corporate ladder… It’s okay, I’ll wait. The reality is, we all have to hustle. Whether it’s serial dating to find “the one” in between side hustles and squeezing in phone convos with our parents while completing our chores so our 8 roommates don’t kick us out, the hustle is real, and it’s depleting us of our energy, creativity, imagination, and space to grow. Are we supposed to just accept a life half-lived? No. This is why we need to take control.
Even with everything stacked against us, we are not doomed. We have the ability within us to create space that allows us to heal, to feel safe, to explore our options, and to manage whatever it is that life throws at us while still being a boss. And trust me, this is only the beginning. So what do we do? We attack our stresses at the source. That means:
Look to the body:
Where is your energy going?
What symptoms are you displaying?
Where does the pain/stress/anxiety/worry/anger/etc. show up?
What feels good/bad/etc.?
What do you crave/reject/etc.?
Look to the mind:
How do you handle money?
How do you deal with emotions?
What do you suppress?
Where do you struggle?
What patterns are you repeating?
How are your relationships?
How do you feel?
Look to the soul:
Where is your awareness pointed?
What aligns with your mind and body?
Does your life reflect your inner world?
Do you feel at peace? What brings peace?
The good news is that cultivating change and arming yourself with the tools to not only get through life, but truly thrive, are already inside of us. I know, so hokey, right?
But it’s not. We just weren’t taught how to set the right boundaries, communicate our needs, ask for help, say no, or any other important life skills that can take us to the next level. But we have the power to change, and like I said, this is only the beginning. So I have to ask, how does holistic living sound now?
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Check back for my next post where we dive into some actionable steps we can all take to build our own thriving toolkits!