"Stay Healthy" Gen Z, the paradox of youth today
In the spring of 2022 we’ve been asked by Healthy Man Society in Romania (SOS) to run a study on understanding the way young people define wellbeing and healthy habits in general (vs. unhealthy ones). For this reason, however, we’ve been trying to see how young people define themselves, in general.
- GenZ (how they are generically defined), manifest a higher degree of maturity and introspection versus previous generations. They tend to be more analytical and circumspect, they have stronger opinions, although not so loud voices yet, they are less confrontative, avoiding conflictual discussions.
- They get informed, they know and talk a lot about mental health, friendship, love, politics, money and personal wishes and have lots of doubts and questions. They don't fully get what is going on around them, but have higher capacity and intention for reflection
- Also, young people today encounter difficulties in dealing with hyper social exposure augmented by social media. Lots of them say they do not know what to do and how to manage their body and they often feel very clumsy (they manifest anxiety related to the way they look, the way they dress, if they are evaluated by others, their degree of popularity)
- GenZ is a generation that is highly exposed to complex social topics with high impact over their life, therefore the pressure they feel while developing their identity is higher. Yet, given this early exposure to life complexity, we assume this generation, while reaching maturity, might militate more for inclusion, acceptance, empathy and collaboration
With respect to wellbeing and and healthy living, young people today seem to be more cautious in maintaining an orderly lifestyle. Living fit and healthy became a trend for them and doing sports, eat well while drinking less alcohol is tends to get a really admired lifestyle.
The highest preoccupation goes however in the area of maintaining proper social relation, highly responsible for the mental health and self confidence as pillars of a healthy life.
Sleep could be the biggest problems of this generation, worsen by the pandemic as well. Life in front of TV or computer also aggravated the quality of sleep, affecting the overall quality of life
Mental Health is also in the alert zone. Lots of them feel an extra social anxiety in building meaningful relationships, an overall mood drop on connecting face to face or meeting new people as long as they can communicate online. “I do not like this guy, it is toxic”, they say. And the dismiss appears instantly.
The pandemic time curated the circle of friends as well. They say they have less friends now, but the connections are more authentic, making them feel at ease. They tend to be more reluctant when meeting new people – less friendly overall.
At declarative level, young people tend to fight social media, while saying, at the same time, they can’t live without it. The discourse changed from “I can not live without” to “I try to limit as much as I can”. Nevertheless, the online presence in their life is higher than ever. That leads to depression, low self esteem, superficial relationships or inefficiency
They have a lot of information on what healthy eating means, but manage to apply only a small part of it. They are motivated by any information about nutrition that has to do with their looks, more that health in itself.
The sport manages to be part of their life somehow, but not in a systematic way. They feel they move enough, although not very disciplined on this aspect. It definitely can be done better!
We can definitely say the young generation today tend to be more cautious or careful with health than generations before. Being young doesn't mean be care-less anymore. The huge amount of information young people deal with today creates a tension between what their youthfulness drives them to do and what they know they should do!
You can not win all the fights, but at least we feel that the cause of youth mental health and proper social life (building rules habits) deserves to be addressed, as being the foundation for their happy adults life. And all the rest of good healthy habits will follow them through!