With our days becoming fuller, faster paced and all-consuming - not to mention intensified by the likes of social media – it’s no wonder that Millennials rate their wellness lower than any other age group. According to our research1
into the Nation’s fitness and wellness habits, which used a five-point Likert scale to consider: hours of sleep, sedentary hours, stress and anxiety levels, headspace, eating and drinking habits, time spent outside, physical activity, mental health and level of social satisfaction, Millennials scored just 26 out of a possible 45.
Whilst activity levels are high amongst Millennials (with the average score being 3.16 on the Likert Scale), it is their overwhelming feelings of daily anxiety and stress that bring their overall ‘wellness score’ down - a staggering 70% admitted to having feelings of anxiety and stress in an average day, whilst 80% of Gen Z agreed.
Improving our ‘Wellness Score’
So, despite what we may see on a polished Instagram profile of a Millennial, it is clear that there is a lot of work to be done to improve the mental health and wellbeing of young people, therefore we’ve enlisted the help of Nutritional Therapist (AdvDipNutMed), Jessica Scott-Young, who works closely with Generation Z and Millennials, to offer her insight and advice on how we can increase our overall ‘Wellness Index Score’.
Jessica explains: “I work with a number of clients who fall into these age brackets and a lot of the issues I see stem from poor body esteem which manifests into misinformed nutritional advice, poor eating habits and often unsustainable exercise habits. This is a generation that works hard and plays hard. The main issues I see that cause havoc on overall health within these generations are:
- Poor sleep
- Blood sugar imbalances, which affects mood, causes hormonal imbalances, fuels cravings and impairs healthy weight management
- Anxiety and mood disorders
- Fatigue and poor energy levels
- Inadequate stress management
- Poor body esteem
“We need to re-educate people around healthy body esteem and the importance of healthy, sustainable nutrition, mindful movement and supportive lifestyle habits. Health should be a lifelong project, not a bandwagon we jump on and off of. It is important to bring it back to basics and ensure people within this age bracket make peace with their plate and stop striving for a ‘quick fix’ that ultimately sets up a lifestyle of unhealthy habits. Sleep, movement, mindset and nutrition are all interlinked when it comes to healthy weight management.”
The Link Between Exercise and Mental Health
There was also a positive correlation between activity levels and social satisfaction in our Index and as Dr Mark Silvert, Consultant Psychiatrist in London at The Blue Tree Clinic explains, group-exercise can also promote positive feelings about ourselves. “Going to a gym, participating in a group class or doing team sports can reduce isolation in an age where we can spend countless hours on our smart phones of tablets without leaving our homes for entire weekends, as it sparks human interactions that are vital in improving a person’s wellbeing, affecting the immune system as well.”
Dr Mark Silvert adds: “Exercise also has many known benefits for good mental health. Studies have shown it can be as good for you as other treatments such as medication or therapy if you are suffering from things like ADHD, anxiety or depression...When we exercise, we get a boost of endorphins which gives a feeling of happiness and well-being, we benefit from feeling better within our bodies, which can improve self-confidence and our physical health.”
Time spent outside was also a key consideration in our Index, but why? Dr Mark Silver explains: “More exercise in the fresh air means more oxygen to the lungs. This can help our white blood cells to function properly - fighting and killing bacteria and germs. It will also increase the amount of serotonin – the happy hormone – produced in your body, which is nature’s way of improving your mood.
Getting outside into the fresh air is an almost forgotten past time. Get a dog, it will help you think of looking after "man's best friend" and the bond between people and pets is also known to be healing when we are not feeling good.”
¹ Survey of 2,000 UK adults conducted by OnePoll in February 2018
Don't forget you can workout with Mind Body in their series of beginner's classes in the Find Your Fit area at Balance Festival 2019!
More from the Journal