A new poll reveals that teens and young adults today are stressed out to the max. One news source said, “Relative to their elders over age 25, Gen Z is about twice as likely (42 percent to 23 percent) to battle depression and feelings of hopelessness.”
That’s a staggering number, one that should cause us to reflect why this coming generation more often has stressed and hopeless feelings.
For starters, it needs to be said that social media and the digital age have given a platform for people to share our feelings.
The very invention of emojis, which would seem odd to people living 100 years ago, shows just how into emotional expression we are. Every day, we text one another, sharing how we feel about this or that; not with words but little symbolic emojis sharing our emotions.
Add this up, and we now have a generation of young people used to talking about their feelings, perhaps more so than past generations would have been comfortable sharing.
Next, the constant bombardment of what’s going on in the world and in other people’s lives can sometimes lead toward a sense of helplessness, followed by hopelessness. We see the tragedy of a shooting and feel helpless, then hopeless. We hear about something simple like someone is having a bad day (or a great day while we are having a bad day), and that somehow brings us down too.
We know about all of this because screens are everywhere, and these glowing rectangles in our lives are constantly reminding us of the world around us. It is no wonder this generation, constantly connected and bombarded, is feeling stressed.
How should we counsel Gen Z and ourselves in these times of duress? Many people do need professional help from licensed counselors and ministers. For others, it could be as simple as recommending they take a break from their smartphones.
The famous Christian author and Nazi Holocaust survivor Corrie Ten Boom said, “If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. If you look at God you’ll be at rest.”
Someone once said, the antidote to despair is action. Christians know that God created us to serve Him and our neighbors, not sit idly by. Jesus said, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…” (Mark 10:25).
If you too are feeling stressed to the max as you see cable news or social media, take a break and go do something meaningful. Read your Bible. Pray. Take a walk. Do some dishes. Call a friend. Write a note. Work on your lawn. Try to serve someone in need. These are just a few ideas for a stressed and weary generation.
Finally, we know that God has given us the church, the family of God. Don’t try to bear your burdens alone. The next time you or a young person you know are struggling, see if their church, the Bible and prayer can be a source of encouragement.
We may not be able to cure all of Gen Z’s anxieties and worries. But we certainly know the One who can. Experiencing the peace of God will lead anyone of any generation, not to feel stressed or depressed; but to feel blessed.
“… Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you” (1 Pet. 5:7 KJV).