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The Wellness Lessons We Can Learn From Each Generation

The intergenerational wisdom surrounding health and wellness can serve as a reliable benchmark for navigating the surplus of information available. 

By Nandita Iyer
New Update
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While it's not correct to make sweeping generalizations about entire generations, there are some trends and patterns in each generation that we can learn from for better health. Some of these are more community or country-specific, while events like World War II (WW-II) and the post-war period affected generated generations of the whole world. 

In times of constantly changing health advice and information (also misinformation), we can rely on the deep reserves of intergenerational learnings in the context of health and wellness and glean valuable insights.

Here are some tips for healthy living and wellness we can learn from each of the generations.

Silent Generation (Born Roughly 1928-1945)

If you, like me, are in your 40s now, this was roughly your grandparent’s generation. They experienced significant historical events such as WW-II, the post-war period, and the last of the years of British rule in India. They are characterised by a strong work ethic and a sense of duty. Their lifestyles had a lot of physical activity integrated into their daily lives, even manual labour due to a lack of electrical appliances. They had a traditional approach to food, often sticking to their traditional dishes and way of eating. Having seen a lot of scarcity in the WW-II period, they were careful not to waste food, resourceful in making use of different ingredients, and valued moderation. They were sticklers for discipline when it came to meal times, sitting down to eat a meal at the same time every day and not on the go.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Keep moving around during waking hours even if you work from an office or home. 

  2. Set aside time to sit down and enjoy proper meals during the day.

  3. Practise moderation when it comes to indulgences. For example, enjoy small portions of desserts but sit down and enjoy it thoroughly.

Baby Boomers (Born Roughly 1946-1964)

What I call my parents’ generation, this generation saw the early days of independent India with significant societal changes. Baby boomers continued their tryst with traditional diets under the guidance of their parents’ generation. There wasn’t much programming on television those days and they continued to have an active lifestyle, be it traveling to work or staying active through the day. stress management was often approached through family support, community connections, and traditional practices like meditation or prayer. They were familiar with cultural and spiritual practices that contributed to a sense of purpose and well-being.  

They had a strong work ethic but also valued family and personal time. Most people would wrap up their work on time and have a sizeable chunk of time devoted to family and friends. In urban India, women entered the workforce in significant numbers leading to changes in family dynamics. Meeting family and friends and going to each other’s homes was the key source of socialising and entertainment. 

Key Takeaways:

  1. Finding a balance between work and personal life is essential for maintaining mental and emotional health.

  2. Incorporating practices that align with one's cultural or spiritual beliefs can be enriching for overall health.

  3. Building and nurturing social relationships can positively impact mental and emotional health.

Generation X (Born Roughly 1965-1980)

Generation X (gen X) kids (my generation) have experienced the widest spectrum of changes in technology, lifestyle, and societal norms. From an internet-less existence to 24x7 connectivity, and everything in life being impacted by it, we have come a long way. 

Gen X in India, aptly called the sandwich generation, gained traditional wisdom from parents and grandparents, but have also adapted to the modern way of life in the present times. We have experienced a transition in food habits, incorporating both traditional and modern dietary elements, while still giving importance to moderation. Gen X witnessed the rise of technology and the start of social media platforms. A large number in this generation are comfortable using digital tools and health apps for monitoring health parameters, fitness tracking, and accessing health information.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Being flexible and adaptable to changing circumstances to stay open to new ideas and approaches to health and well-being.

  2. Using social media to build communities and seek support from like-minded individuals. 

Millennials (Born Roughly 1981-1996)

Millennials started the move towards organic, locally sourced, and plant-based foods. In cities of the world, where it was tough to find vegetarian food other than potatoes and bread, the millennial culture led to the opening of vegan and vegetarian cafes and a tilt towards a more sustainable way of life. More millennials moved towards eco-friendly and sustainable choices in terms of food, products, and daily practices.

Using technology to maintain social connections became a way of life. Millennials are comfortable using technology for health tracking and management. Various apps and wearables can help monitor fitness levels, sleep patterns, and nutrition. Millennials have been vocal about mental health awareness, seeking to reduce stigma and promote open conversations about mental well-being. 

Key Takeaways:

  1. Prioritising mental health and seeking support when needed is a key lesson.

  2. Relying on technology to nudge us towards a healthier lifestyle.

  3. Making sustainable choices that are not only good for our health but also for the planet’s health.

  4. Staying connected with friends and family, especially in a digital age, is important for emotional well-being.

Generation Z (Born Roughly Mid-1990s-Early 2010s)

Generation Z (Gen Z) is often associated with a heightened awareness of environmental issues and sustainability, extending to dietary choices. They are often engaged in social and environmental causes with role models like Greta Thunberg. Gen Z has been active in promoting discussions around mental health. Social media platforms play a significant role in shaping the perceptions and behaviours of Gen Z people. Many Gen Z individuals follow fitness influencers, health advocates, and wellness trends on social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube which may contribute to an increased awareness of health-related topics. 

The flip side is that they are also exposed to a lot of misinformation. This generation is more open about mental health issues and has been instrumental in reducing the stigma surrounding mental health topics. Having seen their parents’ generation hustle and being constantly connected, Gen Z realises the value of a work-life balance and stayed disconnected from time to time and living life in the moment.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Prioritising mental health, not being afraid to talk about it, and seeking therapy and expert guidance where required.

  2. Setting aside quality time to live life and enjoy the various aspects of life and not just chase work and study goals. 

  3. Learning to take breaks from the state of constant connectedness – for example, leaving the phone behind for a few hours each week, reducing screen time and dependency on gadgets monitoring us 24 x 7.

  4. Prioritising self-care with me-time, journaling, mindfulness apps, and buying quality products when it comes to food, health, or clothing.

It's essential to note that individual behaviours and attitudes toward health can vary within any generation. Additionally, external factors such as socio-economic status, cultural background, and regional influences can play a role in shaping health-conscious behaviours. 

Learning from each generation's outlook toward better health is an ongoing process. By appreciating the varied perspectives, we can cultivate a holistic approach to our well-being.


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