Millennials are the most stressed generation, according to the American Psychological Association (APA.) While some stress is motivating, too much can be overwhelming, and “it’s going to ultimately be paralyzing,” says Carolyn Gregoire, a psychology and mental health expert. That explains why at the end of a stress-filled week, you sometimes find yourself slumped on the couch.
Although binge-watching shows on Netflix and ordering food seems appealing, making this a habit can negatively impact your social life. Social media makes you feel like you are keeping up with what your friends are doing, but scrolling through your Instagram feed can cause FOMO (fear of missing out.) By closing off from the outside world, you are digging yourself into a hole of social isolation.
Despite what you might think, you don’t have to go out to bars or clubs every weekend to have a social life; there are alternatives to downing shots and staying out until 4 a.m. Instead of succumbing to your stress-induced laziness and staying home by yourself, there are ways to maintain your social life that don’t involve excessive partying.
- Movie and wine night. The perfect solution to being social in the comfort of your own home. Planning ahead is key. Send out a group text the Wednesday before, and decide who’s bringing what (food, wine, etc.)
- Workout class. Scientists have found that aerobic exercise can decrease levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, and improve sleep. Sign up in advance for a spinning or yoga class with a friend who will motivate you to actually go.
- Bowling or mini golf. You don’t have to be a professional bowler or mini golfer. It’s a fun way to socialize and catch up with a group of friends on a Friday or Saturday night.
- Karaoke night. Sing your heart out with a group of friends at a Karaoke bar and you are guaranteed to have a good time. You’re also going to laugh a lot, which releases endorphins that can elevate your mood and reduce stress.
- Groupon. This is your guide to having a fun night out while saving money at the same time. Buy tickets to a musical, comedy show, or sports game and give yourself something to look forward to during the week.
Every now and then we need a quiet night to ourselves. The following are healthy ways to de-stress alone on the weekends.
- Catch up on reading. Sometimes the best way to clear your mind is to curl up on your couch with a blanket and a good book.
- Put away the technology. Research shows the negative effects that computer and cell phone use has on sleep quality, stress levels and overall mental health in young adults. Try turning your phone on “do not disturb” for at least 2 hours. Taking a break from social media will also prevent you from feeling like you’re missing out.
- Cook a healthy meal. What you put into your body has a huge impact on your stress levels. Give yourself a break from eating take out or microwave meals during the week, and dedicate a night to cook a healthy meal. “The connection between the gut and brain is huge,” Dr. Drew Ramsey, a Columbia University psychiatry professor told The Huffington Post for their “Stress-Less Challenge.”
- Take a bath while listening to music. Throw in a few colorful bath bombs too. Light some candles and have a relaxing night to yourself. Classical music can slow your heart rate and even decrease levels of stress hormones, but any music you love can flood your brain with feel-good dopamine neurotransmitters.
- Go to bed early! Make it a goal for yourself to be in bed by 9 p.m. You will surprise yourself with increased energy and lack of mood swings the following day.