Many women, myself included, are worriers. For our entire lives, we worry about the people close to us – our children, friends, spouse and parents.
Then, as we reach our 60s and 70s, our worries seem to multiply. All of a sudden, we start to worry about how we are going to live on a pension. Many of us become concerned about our health. Then, there are less tangible worries, such as how we are going to find meaning in our lives after 60.
With so many things to worry about, it’s a miracle that we are able to just get on with our lives. Somehow we manage. But, as many women have found out the hard way, “managing” isn’t the same as “thriving.”
Today, I want to talk about a simple trick that can help you to deal with your worries and get on with the important task of living your life. No, I’m not talking about a magical “happiness” pill or get rich quick scheme. I’m talking about creating a “worry diary.”
The concept of a worry diary is simple. You don’t even need an actual diary; a few sheets of paper will do just fine. All you need to do is set aside time, every day, to write down your concerns and a few small solutions. It’s that simple.
Here are 3 ways having a worry diary can contribute to healthy aging.
As I wrote in a previous article, your bed is a terrible place to solve your problems. For starters, most of us simply aren’t thinking clearly when we’re underneath the covers. In addition, when our worries keep us awake at night, our ability to deal with them in the morning diminishes.
Instead of letting your thoughts bounce around in your head, write them down! Give yourself permission to deal with them tomorrow. In your heart, you know that your problems won’t be solved at 1am. So, leave them for the next day.
For many women in the community, nighttime worries are the problem so much as repetitive thoughts during the day. The problem with repetitive thoughts is that they are rarely logical. It’s not like we stand there, meticulously sorting through our problems, one rational step at a time. If we did, we’d be robots!
Instead, our worries have a tendency to bounce around in our heads, like metal balls in a pinball machine. Worrying “feels” productive, but, it rarely yields fruit. All our repetitive thoughts do are increase our stress hormones and give us less time to focus on the practical steps that would actually help to improve our lives.
One way to use your worry diary, during the day, is to set aside time to write down your concerns. In my case, I do this after lunch. Another option is to use your diary to “catch” negative thoughts that come up during the day. If you notice yourself starting to worry, simply write down your concern in your diary. It will still be there when you have your next scheduled “worry check in.”
Writing in your worry diary doesn’t have to be a passive process. Sure, there are benefits to simply moving your worries out of your head and on to paper. But, this is just the beginning. It’s much more effective to look for solutions, even if they are incomplete.
For example, next to each worry, try to come up with one small thing that you could do to move yourself in the right direction. For example, if you are worried about money, you might start a list of all of your expenses and see if any of them are flexible. The goal should be to pick tasks that can be completed in 30 minutes or less. This may not seem like a lot of time, but, if you do this every day, you will be amazed by the results.
Having a worry diary is such a simply idea that, once you start using it, you will wonder why you never thought of it before. I use mine on a daily basis and it is one of the reasons that I have been able to get the most from life after 60. I hope that your worry diary does the same for you!
What do you think of the idea of having a worry diary? Have you found any other solutions to dealing with your own worries? If so, please share them with the community so that we can all learn from each other. Also, please “like” and share this article to keep the discussion going!
Tags Healthy Aging