Learn how our worries change through the years

What fears and worries keep you up at night? Each generation—from kids to seniors—have unique stressors. Understanding this can help us all find a bit more peace for ourselves and those we love.

Children and young adults

According to mental health educator Rebecca Higgins, climate change is one of the top things contributing to children’s stress levels. “Climate anxiety and climate grief is something we wouldn’t have seen as much in earlier generations,” she says.

And that’s just one of the stressors. From our teens to early adulthood, we experience a lot of transition and change. “You’re looking at a shift in independence, so finances, work, and housing costs are becoming more of a concern,” says Higgins.

This continues into our twenties and thirties. “Millennials are making choices about their relationships and starting families, and are also stressed about how they compare to their peers,” says Higgins.

To cope with rising stress, millennials are twice as likely to try yoga and meditation compared to older generations. “Those are grounding tools,” explains Higgins. “Spirituality, where you’re finding a connection to what’s important to you, is one of the foundational things that shore up our well-being.”

Gen Xers

Our stress levels start to peak in our mid-thirties to mid-forties, which is also when most of us experience the greatest level of debt and financial burdens. No wonder money and work continue to be the number-one stressors.

“People in their early forties are often caught in the ‘sandwich generation,’” says Higgins. “They’re taking care of kids, taking care of elderly parents, and also potentially dealing with student loans and mortgages. This is a time of increased financial and emotional labour.”

Boomers and seniors

Work and money finally stop being our primary worry once we hit our mid-40s, getting supplanted by stress about health, whether that’s our health or the health of those we love.

“People ages 55 and up tend to be less stressed and better at coping,” says Higgins. “One reason is due to practice and resilience—you’ve gotten through life up to this point. You also have more experience and self-awareness. That doesn’t mean you have fewer problems, but you’ve learned what stress management tools work for you and what doesn’t.”

Soothing stress across all generations

Higgins says there are proven strategies that all generations can use to tackle their stress. “Connection to others is central, as is finding a sense of meaning, hope, and life purpose,” she says.

Exploring the outdoors also helps reduce our stress and improve our mood. “Being in nature doesn’t make the bad thing go away, but it helps shore up our resilience to go back and face it,” says Higgins.

“And the most important piece I’ve learned is that when there’s a big thing that overwhelms you, break it down into individual, more manageable pieces,” says Higgins.