3 Ways To Survive Adulthood In 2020

Your Science-Backed Survival Guide

Adult from the 70s: “Hey Mrs Walters is Mac in? Can you tell him to meet me at the park, there’s a skate-off.”

Adult from 2019: “Hey Sky Dolphin, can’t call can only message, want to hook up online and play Call Of Duty?” 

Yes, we admit we’ve slightly stereotyped/dramatised the situation… However, the sentiment is valid. Adulthood has changed dramatically over the last 10, 20, 30 years and the effects are felt by many. With social media taking over the world, house prices out of reach, the thought of settling down, getting a guinea pig and starting a family (of humans) seeming more out of reach than ever before. And that’s without considering the pressures of succeeding at work and at home. 

Fear not, as this article will highlight a few key ways you can avoid the traps of adulthood and go into it with your head held high (so high in fact, you won’t be able to see your phone’s screen…)  

Go Greener 

Get outdoors, hug the trees, run your hands through the wildflowers. Or just sit in a park for a couple of hours. The child-to-adult scientific benefits of this are being proven over and over again. Kristine Engemann’s study, Residential green space in childhood is associated with lower risk of psychiatric disorders from adolescence into adulthood, looks at how growing up in urban environments can be associated with a higher “risk of developing psychiatric disorders.” 

Engemann describes how, “green space can provide mental health benefits and possibly lower risk of psychiatric disorders in adulthood.” The study was based on 900,000 people and shows that “children who grew up with the lowest levels of green space had up to 55% higher risk of developing a psychiatric disorder independent from effects of other known risk factors in adulthood.” Concluding that, “the prolonged presence of green space is important… Integrating natural environments into urban planning is a promising approach to improve mental health and reduce the rising global burden of psychiatric disorders.” 

Those young adults searching for suburbia and greenery may be doing the right thing for their mental health. Although finding something within budget and unearthing a deposit from… somewhere… that’s another ball game entirely. 

Release Yourself From The Shackles Of The Internet 

It’s pretty safe to say that life in 2019 is mainly based around social media and the internet. We use less and less books as our go-to fountains of knowledge and instead we seek advice and answers from Google: arguably the Holy Grail of everything.

The internet is a beautiful thing, it allows us to buy things, sell things, research things, connect with things and so on. It’s also a pretty dark space, where young adults (as well as the rest of society) can be left feeling vulnerable and victimised, taking these long-lasting side effects into adulthood.

A study by Martina Benvenuti et al. of the University of Bologna, Italy describes how, “the benefits that derive from the internet to perform daily activities are enormous… However, there is one downside. Web 2.0 requires a lot of our attention during use (due to the network of relations and information processing on which we are absorbed) and it often distracts us from tasks in which we are involved in during daily activities, such as studying, working, or cultivating offline relationships.” Lack of communication offline can alienate people and weaken communication and connection skills vital for adulthood.

In 2012, researcher Turkle described how the “integration between being online and offline is an important part of the psychology of human beings.” A balance between the two can be found, although often it’s not and “people run the risk of pursuing behaviors that lead to problematic use.” (Davis, 2001.) Benvenuti discusses how the internet can be a “source of empowerment (functional organ) or a source of problematic use (inverse instrumentality) during emerging adulthood.” 

Similarly, a 2019 study by Sujarwoto et al., A Tool to Help or Harm? Online Social Media Use and Adult Mental Health in Indonesia, looked at the effect of online social media use on an individual’s health. They examined the effect of online social media (Facebook, Twitter and chat). Taking data from “the Indonesia Family Life Survey (IFLS), which polled 22,423 individuals age 20 years and older in 9987 households and 297 districts in Indonesia.” They noted, “instrumental variable analysis was used to address reverse causality issues.” Their findings show, “social media use harms adult mental health; an increase of one standard deviation in adult use of social media is associated with 9% increase in CES-D (depression scale score.)”

With numerous studies showing similar findings, our next bit of advice will come as no shock:

Get Off The Internet

Or at least limit your time spent online. How can you easily spend less time on social media? Introduce a cut off time to your social media fix. Do this by putting your phone/laptop/ipad/Apple Watch etc ‘to bed’ at 6pm, in a little box in the corridor. Let your friends and family know that you are offline and therefore off limits from 6pm each night and if they need you badly, to pop round and talk face to face (oooh, old school). This will give you a minimum of 4 hours social-media free-time each evening. 

So how will you fill your time? 

Read a book on neuroplasticity, play Peak – Brain Training, tune into Rise – Sleep Better and chill, chat with your partner, smash up your TV, bake a cake, floss your teeth, indulge in a bath, massage your lymph nodes, wash and blow-dry your dog, iron your bed sheets, grow a bonsai tree, write your grandma a thank you letter, meditate, stretch, print out all of our articles and read them, go on a falk (fast walk), sniff the flowers. Kiss goodbye to social media anxieties and say “nice to meet you real life.” 

Forget ‘Failure’

This point kind of covers everything to do with being an adult in today’s world. There’s an intense focus on being ‘successful’ and we seem to use the word ‘failure’ too flippantly. A huge amount of pressure is laid on to ‘succeed’ at life, whether it’s with friendships, family life, having kids, getting married or/and working your way up the career ladder. 

Irish novelist Samuel Beckett’s view on failure is a reflection of his time:

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.

Unfortunately, in today’s society failure and success are strictly 2 different entities. And that’s a little scary. Take for example a young adult who has just started their own second hand cycling parts business. The business is yet to make any profit as they are working on a  marketing strategy, finalising their finances and nailing their website’s design. Society in 2019 may classify this business as a failure as it’s not in profit. But, and it’s a big but, this new business owner is succeeding in so many ways. How? Well, they’re escaping the usual 9 to 5 and corporate rat run, right? Plus, they’ve not been in business long enough to account for ‘success’. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries describes how a ‘failed’ idea or business isn’t a failure at all, in fact it allows the owner to learn, adapt and grow quickly when it comes to their next business idea.  

However, perhaps this pressure and reaction to failure has always been as intense and it’s not a new phenomenon. A study by Sörberg Wallin A et al. Academic performance, externalizing disorders and depression: 26,000 adolescents followed into adulthood, looked at feelings of failure and having depression when it comes to poor academic performance. Wallin et al. followed “26,766 Swedish women and men born 1967-1982 from the last year of compulsory school (16, up to 48 years of age.) They investigated the association between grade point average (GPA, standardized by gender) and first diagnosis of depression in national registers of in-or-out-patient psychiatric care.” And concluded that, “the findings suggest that poor academic performance is associated with depression in young adulthood.” 

Educational pressures have been around forever, but the difference nowadays is that these pressures are highlighted on social media. If someone in your class gets a 1st, you know about it and it’s unpurposely (or purposely) shoved down your throat. And when you manage to just scrape a 3rd due to, perhaps, personal problems, your brain can go into meltdown. With more and more exams, the risk and fear of failure is ever growing. 

What’s our advice when it comes to failure? Shift your view on it.

See failures as small nudges towards something a little better. And for your own sanity, stop scrolling through social media on results day! 

Take for example Thomas Edison, he tried more than 10,000 times to invent the light bulb before getting it right. When he was asked about his failures, he said that he knew “definitively over 9,000 ways that an electric light bulb will not work.” 

Look at Steven Spielberg who was rejected from film school 3 times before making it. He took his so-called failures and spun them on their heads.

Be easy on yourself. Adulthood has changed and will continue to change for generations to come. The key things to remember are to be present in the moment before it becomes the past, get outside and experience the world up close and personal and see nothing as a failure, just as something you can learn from. Implement these 3 strategies into your adult life and you may just survive the journey. 

Share your survival tips below in the comments.

Discover our latest articles on brain health, cognitive development and wellbeing:

Sources Cited:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/josephcoughlin/2018/06/11/millennials-arent-having-kids-heres-why-thats-a-problem-for-baby-boomer-real-estate-retirement/#3a6930b42058

https://www.pnas.org/content/116/11/5188.short

https://www.igi-global.com/chapter/being-online-in-emerging-adulthood/221009

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11469-019-00069-2

https://europepmc.org/abstract/med/30783692

All information featured in Peak – Brain Training articles are provided for informational purposes only and are not substitutes for medical or physician advice.

Maisie Bygraves

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