Which Generation Copes Better with Stress?


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In 2014:

Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) are 50 to 68 years old

Gen Xers (born between 1965 and 1979) are 35 to 49 years old

Gen Yers (born between 1980 and 2000) are 14-34 years old

Do people deal with stress better when they’re younger or as they age? Do Baby Boomers fair better than the generations that came after them? Or is it the other way around?

According to Dr. Ilona Jerabek, president of PsychTests.com in Montreal, when it comes to coping mechanisms, Baby Boomers have it all over their younger counterparts. “Essentially, the older you get, the more you’ve experienced the good and the bad, and the better equipped you are at dealing with stressful situations,” she says. “What the Boomers have is resourcefulness. When faced with a problem, they can tap into the knowledge and experience they’ve accumulated and find a way to resolve the issue or at least make it more bearable.

“This isn’t to say that Millennials can’t handle pressure, but the fact that Boomers have ‘been around the block’ a few times, allows them to cope with stressors that are often new to Millennials like work, financial, and relationship problems.”

Dr. Jerabek adds that many Millennials grew up with helicopter parents, those parents who sheltered their children. This type of parenting prevents children from experiencing failure and building up resilience. “The good news,” she says, “Is that healthy coping strategies can be learned – and that’s something older generations can teach to younger ones.”

The stress assessment measured the following coping mechanisms. Baby Boomers predominated in each of the categories:

  • Problem-Solving: Actively looking for solutions and creating a “plan of action” Information-Seeking: Conducting research and seeking out information to better understand and deal with a stressor or problem
  • Negotiation: Making compromises in order to behave in a way that fits the constraints of a situation
  • Social Support: Looking for emotional support from loved ones or friends
  • Positive Cognitive Restructuring: Changing our perspective of a problem and viewing it in a more positive or productive light
  • Emotional Regulation: Using relaxation techniques or finding healthy outlets to channel negative emotions

Baby Boomers came out on top in avoiding these unhealthy ways of coping, while the Gen Yers finished last in each of the categories, meaning they embraced them:

  • Rumination: Thinking obsessively about a source of stress or a problem
  • Avoidance: Tendency to avoid thinking about a problem and doing what is necessary to resolve it
  • Opposition: Tendency to lash out at others when under stress, or to blame others for ones problems

Test yourself! Assess your coping skills at Psychtests

Sources: Dr. Ilona Jerabek, President of PsychTests.com, [email protected], 514-745-3189, ext. 112.

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About Tobi Schwartz-Cassell

Tobi Schwartz-Cassell is an award-winning writer, and owner of Franks & Beans Communications. She specializes in blogging, email marketing, brochures, web content, feature articles and events. In 2007, Tobi founded Girlfriendz Magazine, a niche publication devoted to Baby Boomer Women. She also co-authored the book “Adding Value to Long-Term Care (Jossey-Bass/Wiley),” and has written numerous articles for long-term care trade journals. She can be reached at [email protected]

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