CHILDHOOD

HELPING GENERATION STRESS

When I was little, childhood was in many ways simpler because we were able to switch off from the outside world when we came home. There was no internet and social media hadn't been invented yet.

At the age of seven my whole world shifted when my dad very sadly took his own life. Of course 26 years ago mindfulness wasn’t even a 'thing', meditating was something that only hippies talked about and counselling held negative connotations, so there was no outlet to really process my emotions.

Ploughing forward with life at an insatiable speed as a very happy and confident girl, I witnessed the rise of social media at the end of university and the digital revolution was upon us. Moving to London, the Blackberry was quickly introduced to the working life and the ‘always on’ culture had begun.

Having worked in marketing for 11 years, I know all too well the immense pressure people can feel to meet strict deadlines; be available for bosses, clients and colleagues 24/7; and climb the professional ladder in search of that ‘ultimate job’. The levels of stress, work and often our own minds put us under is huge. Add on top of that a bully-boss and before you know if you're quickly 'losing your marbles' with anxiety reaching a whole new level.

So many people experience huge levels of career related stress and I want to teach them tools to ensure they remain on track.

One of the saddest things I've seen in the news recently was a story from the Teachers Union showing that the next generation - dubbed 'Generation Stress' - is starting to suffer from mental health problems including panic attacks, anxiety and depression from as young as four years old.

Nighty-eight per cent of the 2,000 teachers surveyed said they had come into contact with pupils who were experiencing mental health issues. Nine in 10 said they had encountered pupils of every age suffering from anxiety and panic attacks, while 79 per cent were aware of a pupil suffering from depression, and 64 per cent knew of a child who was self-harming.

The world is evolving so quickly that our brains which have developed through many thousands of years of natural evolution are struggling to keep up as everything moves from human skill and interaction to computer interfaces and digital solutions. There are things we can do to help though. For one, we can teach the next generation how to deal with mental health issues through simple mindful tools that they can utilise for the rest of their lives.

If we teach children from a young age how to deal with increasing exam pressures, social media and how to take time to stop, breathe, pause and reflect, we can give them invaluable space to self regulate their emotions.

We can’t turn back the clock on our busy digital world, but we can learn to live with our high paced environment as well as communicate and support each other better.

And that's exactly what I intend to do. My mission with Happy Heads, which I launched this week, is to help turn 'Generation Stress' into 'Generation Happy'. Please join me.