Dealing with milestone pressures

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Health Assured team

01 September 2022

Throughout life, there are milestones we believe should be reached by a certain age – graduating at 21, getting your dream job at 25, or starting a family by 30. These milestones (or some variation of them) have become ingrained in society as the standard of success. But everyone is unique, and the paths we take through life will differ, so you shouldn’t feel discouraged if you don't reach these milestones.

We often set milestones and the age we should achieve them. This can put immense pressure on people if they don't reach these goals when they thought they would. This pressure can spur poor mental health problems because people feel like they have failed themselves.

Life is everchanging and unpredictable. Many things happen which are out of our control. It’s important to remember this when going through life. This article will provide ways you can deal with these pressures and foster a healthy outlook on life milestones.


Acknowledge the impact on your mental health 

A recent study shows that 86% of people think society puts too much pressure on achieving life milestones. This pressure has become more profound with the rising use of social media – and people comparing their own lives to those they see online.

In this digital age, it can be challenging to step away from the online environment. However, limiting your social media usage and unfollowing the accounts that make you feel bad can help. You don’t have to completely remove yourself from the social media; however, you must be aware that the images and videos you see are not a true representation of reality. Acknowledging this and the impact these milestone pressures pose is important in preventing a build-up of stress and anxiety.


Remember you are unique

Following on from the previous section, it’s important to remember that you are your own person with your own aspirations, you don’t have to compare yourself to others. We all have a unique outlook on life. What is important to one person, may not be important to you – and vice versa.

Just because someone has achieved something before you, doesn’t mean you are behind them, your path may be different and include different milestones. By concentrating on yourself and your own path, you are more likely to reach your goals rather than getting side-tracked worrying about what other people are doing.


Celebrate your milestones

As mentioned, certain milestones are viewed as the ‘societal norm’. But everyone’s milestones are different - you should set your own goals and milestones. These may align with traditional milestones or differ completely. Either way, they are your milestones and should be what you want to achieve, not what society thinks you should do. It’s essential that when you do reach a milestone, you celebrate. Celebrating your milestones can help you recognise your achievements and foster a positive health and wellbeing. 


Focus on the present

When thinking about milestones, we are often thinking about the future – worrying about things that haven’t happened yet. This can feel overwhelming. That’s why it is important to be present in the moment and concentrate on what you are doing today, not what you should be doing in 10 years. Mindful exercises can help with this – take the time to sit back, relax and appreciate what you’ve achieved. This can also help reduce the occurrence of mental health problems such as stress and anxiety; helping you recognise and move past any negative thoughts.


Seek help

Coping with milestone pressures can be overwhelming. If you feel like the above methods aren’t working for you (and you feel ready to do so), you should consider seeking help from a mental health professional. Speaking to a therapist can often be a step in the right direction. They can help you recognise where negative feelings come from and help you implement strategies to get past them. Therapy can also help you realise the commonality of these worries - so you don’t feel alone with your struggles.


Want to support employees mental health?

Our Employee Assistance Programme provides a 24/7 counsellor support line, allowing your people to talk through any difficulties they might be facing.

We also provide structured counselling for those who need it to deal with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

If you have any questions, call us on 0800 206 2532

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