How Millennials Became The Burnout Generation and Why You Should Care About Philosophy

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Aug 21, 2023

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How Millennials Became The Burnout Generation and Why You Should Care About Philosophy

In today's fast-paced and demanding world, burnout has become a prevalent issue, especially among millennials. The constant pressure to succeed, the need to always be working, and the fear of missing out have all contributed to this state of exhaustion. Psychoanalyst Josh Cohen describes burnout as a yearning for completion that can never be attained, leading to a compulsive need to keep going despite internal exhaustion.

Social media plays a significant role in this phenomenon. Millennials use platforms like Instagram and Facebook to narrativize their lives, presenting an idealized version of themselves. When the reality doesn't align with the expectations, they resort to illustrating the life they believe they should have. This constant need for validation and the pressure to present a perfect image contribute to the burnout experienced by this generation.

But burnout isn't limited to high-stress work environments. It has become the millennial condition, the background music of their lives. The pressure to constantly optimize and succeed, both professionally and personally, has been ingrained in them since childhood. The millennial rearing project revolves around the idea of finding a fulfilling job that reflects well on their parents and impresses their peers. The pursuit of passion and success becomes all-consuming, leaving little room for rest and relaxation.

The concept of risk management has also played a significant role in shaping millennials' lives. Parents, driven by fear and anxiety, have become vigilant in their child-rearing strategies. This has resulted in a generation that is anxious, risk-averse, and constantly seeking guidance and approval. The fear of failure and the need to meet societal expectations further contribute to the burnout experienced by millennials.

In an attempt to cope with burnout, self-care has become a buzzword. However, the commodification of self-care has turned it into just another task on the never-ending to-do list. The pressure to optimize every aspect of one's life, from career to personal space, adds to the fatigue and burnout experienced by millennials. The pursuit of self-improvement and efficiency hasn't translated into better job prospects or improved well-being.

So, how can millennials navigate the burnout generation and find a way to prioritize their well-being? Here are three actionable pieces of advice:

  • 1. Set boundaries: Learn to say no and establish clear boundaries between work and personal life. Create designated times for rest and relaxation, and stick to them. Prioritize self-care and make it a non-negotiable part of your routine.
  • 2. Embrace imperfection: Let go of the need to be perfect and embrace the idea that it's okay to make mistakes and take breaks. Recognize that success doesn't have to be defined by societal standards and that personal well-being should be a priority.
  • 3. Cultivate curiosity: Embrace the philosophy of curiosity and the joy of asking questions. Philosophy, in its broadest sense, is about seeking knowledge and understanding for the sake of it. Engage in philosophical thinking and explore different perspectives to gain a deeper understanding of yourself and the world around you.

Incorporating these practices into your life can help alleviate burnout and create a healthier mindset. Remember that burnout is not a temporary affliction; it's a societal condition that requires a collective effort to address.

In conclusion, the burnout experienced by millennials is a result of societal pressures, the need for constant optimization, and the commodification of self-care. Recognizing the underlying causes and taking proactive steps to prioritize well-being is crucial for navigating the burnout generation. By setting boundaries, embracing imperfection, and cultivating curiosity, millennials can find a path towards a more balanced and fulfilling life.

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