There has not been a day in my life where I have not woken up to some level of anxiety since I was five years old. I’m 60.
There are varying levels of it, depending on what’s going on in my life or what might be on the schedule for that particular day. But it’s there. Every. Single. Day.
Although there are many similarities in terms of how our anxiety affects us, everyone’s anxiety journey is unique as are we. For me, it began with my parents’ divorce when I was 5 and me then growing up in a household with an alcoholic mother.
I was never exactly sure what the day would bring. This created not only high anxiety but also contributed, I’m sure, to my tendency to need to control and be prepared for all possibilities in any situation.
Throughout the years that I was raising my two sons, my anxiety symptoms were very strong. I hated situations where there were crowds or where it was difficult to leave. I had what I would describe as moderate germophobia which can be tough to manage with two young sons and all of their friends around.
In spite of my anxiety, I have always been someone who typically pushed through. So, during these years, there were times when my symptoms were enough that I saw a counselor to help manage them. I always wanted to be available and present for my boys. I never wanted my anxiety to interfere with family plans.
In my late 30s and early 40s, my anxiety symptoms were still fairly strong. However, I had tools to manage them – one of which was talking openly about it to my friends and family – especially if and when I was feeling it. This helped immensely to take away its power.
And I learned that there is no shame in having anxiety. It seems to be fairly common.
Today, at the age of 60, I still wake up with some level of anxiety daily. However, it is consistently and significantly less than it has ever been before and continues to improve. Being proactive about managing it has made an enormous difference. In addition, in many ways, I feel that I’m more confident than I’ve been in any other stage of my life.
Following are the things that I’ve done that have made the difference for me on this side of 50:
And by working hard, I mean sometime having to make scary changes to rid my life of toxins and toxic reactions. I am married to a man who has been nothing other than supportive in terms of all I want to do in my life.
I have done a lot of work around my feelings and reactions towards my mother and that relationship is in as good a place as it’s ever going to be. I have great relationships with my kids and grandchildren.
This is a habit that I work hard to maintain. Exercise and movement truly help our stress and anxiety levels. For me, getting outside to do it adds even more. I can tell a huge difference in my anxiety levels on days where weather has been cold or rainy and I haven’t moved as much as I could or should.
I journal on what I’m anxious about and what I’m excited about. I think about and visualize daily how I want to move through my day. What type of woman do I want to be? It is always one who is confident, excited, and not anxious. I picture this woman each morning and do my best each day to be her.
I don’t have too many of those anymore, but when I do, I tell someone. I don’t keep it to myself. This takes away the power of my anxiety. The people in my life who I can talk to about this typically know exactly what to say (or not say).
Counseling, for me, when I sought it out, proved to be a huge help. I learned things about myself. I was given tools to help me manage anxiety attacks when they occurred. If you have anxiety that is preventing you from doing things that you really want to do, it might be a good idea to consider talking to a professional.
I’m at a point in my life where now, more than ever, I really don’t want to miss anything that I don’t have to. Especially if the reason is that I am scared or anxious!
What has been your experience with anxiety throughout your lifetime? How is it now, after 50? What tools do you use to manage it?
Tags Finding Happiness