We can’t escape capitalism. Our society puts so much emphasis on capitalism, to our detriment. There’s a strong connection between capitalism and mental health. You might be suffering from capitalism if you feel like you’re not good enough based on the demands capitalism creates. They’re ingrained in us from a young age. This is especially true for millennials.
None of us are immune to it, but learning how to escape capitalism as a millennial is no easy feat. Millennials have enough anxiety already without adding capitalism into the mix. Millennials see, more than other generations, how capitalism doesn’t work for them. They live the life they were told to live, do the blueprint of what capitalism says makes them successful, and then realise that it’s just creating burnout.
Millennials are overworked and burnt out, particularly during this pandemic we’re still all living through. They’re also one of the most underpaid generations, but oddly enough the most educated. Millennials were told that going to university means success. The expectation is go to university, get a good job, go to grad school, get a better job, and so on. The message implies that you’ll make more money with each step, but millennials are finding that’s not true. Then sneaky capitalism comes in and tells you that if you don’t work harder you’re lazy. The anxious millennial doesn’t know how to escape capitalism.
You might be suffering from capitalism if you’re an anxious millennial
Studies have shown that capitalism and mental health are connected. Capitalism presents what feels like a million choices: such as products to buy, jobs to have, and services to use. It can be overwhelming and anxiety-provoking to live in a capitalist world.
Capitalism causes anxiety and depression in all of us, but particularly in millennials. They don’t know how to escape capitalism because it’s been ingrained in their lives. The message is always to do more, be better, buy more, strive for more.
Honestly, it’s exhausting. Millennials have enough things wearing them down and causing burnout that capitalism is the last thing they need pushing them further into overwhelm and burnout.
Capitalism also creates alienation. As a society, in general, we’re tired, disconnected from each other, told to buy more, and work harder. The monetary inequity that our society faces alienates us by class and then from each other. We’re worried about the planet and future generations, but we’re also concerned with what we’re dealing with now.
For millennials, this alienation comes at a cost. Millennials are alienated from other generations. They’re alienated from each other. And they’re alienated from society as a whole. That’s enough to cause anxiety in and of itself, but millennials are primed to be anxious already. The demands placed on them and the stigma of being a millennial from older generations cause them to feel misunderstood and isolated.
How to escape capitalism
Are you a millennial who is wondering how to escape capitalism? Well, there’s no one easy answer. Some people say that millennials will need to ‘overthrow the system’ to escape capitalism. Some call the connection between capitalism and mental health for millennials anxiety, others call it panic.
Here are some key factors when talking about anxious millennials and capitalism:
- Increase in competition at work
- Increase in isolation from one another
- Economic security
Millennials are caught in the web that capitalism spun long before they were born. There’s a reason why many millennials lean towards socialism. In Australia, millennials are afraid of being priced out of housing. That same phenomenon is happening in the US as well. Gentrification has been pricing working people out of their neighbourhoods for the last few decades, but especially recently in urban areas.
And yet, millennials are seen as the people living in the cool, hip, newly gentrified neighbourhoods. But so many can’t afford them, despite having a decent-paying job. Because in our capitalist society, millennials don’t make enough to match the cost of living in the areas where they want to be. So many millennials working in urban jobs can’t afford to live anywhere close to their places of work.
So how do you escape capitalism? It would require an entire rewiring of the economic and political system we live in. And I’m not sure that millennials will see that happen in their lifetime.
Capitalism and mental health
The anxiety that millennials feel because of capitalism causes a direct hit to their mental health. Capitalism and mental health might not be linked by everything, but I think it’s important that we talk about how capitalism affects our mental health, particularly the millennial generation.
One of the effects of capitalism on our society is consumerism. We’re told to buy more, produce more, and consume more. The problem with consumerism is that it leaves the consumer ultimately dissatisfied and therefore feeds into the cycle by the need to buy or consume more or the ‘right’ things. We become dissatisfied and, and on an extreme level, feel empty.
This need fed by capitalist society to always strive for more sets us up for failure. Capitalism and mental health are connected by the overall dissatisfaction that leads to depression and anxiety that is felt by people in our society.
Millennials feel this deeply as they strive to undo the societal wrongs that generations before them have committed. In the end, we need to look at capitalism and mental health to help our clients struggling with anxiety and depression as a result of capitalism.
Danielle Wayne is a millennial therapist who specialises in working with millennials with anxiety and ADHD.
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