- Hello My Lovely Midlife Friend
- Anxiety Can Be Caused By A Myriad Of Situations
- So What Is Anxiety And Why Is It So Common?
- Mild Anxiety vs Serious Anxiety
- Have You Experienced Phobic Or Trauma Anxiety?
- I Didn’t Think Anything Of This Until Years Later
- They Say It’s Best To Face Your Fears Head-On
- There’s No Making Light Of Anxiety
- What The Heck Is High-Functioning Anxiety?
- Here Are Signs You Have Anxiety
- Let’s Look At Some Of The Causes Of Midlife Anxiety
- Why Embracing Your Anxiety Will Be Beneficial
- 10 Actions To Help You Calm Midlife Anxiety:
DISCLOSURE: Please understand that I am not an expert on anxiety. The opinions expressed in this blog are from my own and other’s experiences. If you need to seek help from a trained Mental Health Professional visit Betterhelp (affiliate) to speak with a certified therapist at an affordable price.
Hello My Lovely Midlife Friend
In this post, I want to discuss 10 Actions To Help You Calm Midlife Anxiety, why it’s beneficial to confront it head-on, and suggest some gentle and therapeutic methods to help you feel peaceful while you deal with it.
Anxiety Can Be Caused By A Myriad Of Situations
Society or family pressures, phobias, childhood trauma, perfectionism, fear of failure, fear of aging, empty-nest syndrome, menopause, broken relationships, illness, or loss of a loved one…the list goes on and on.
Although it may not appear to be at times, it IS manageable and you can get it under control. We all know, that even with our years of life experience, we’re not immune to anxiety creeping into our lives.
So What Is Anxiety And Why Is It So Common?
It’s our body’s internal reaction to stress…and it’s completely normal. It’s encoded into our DNA to help us detect and deal with real and perceived threats.
However, it becomes a more serious issue when it starts to interfere with your day-to-day life.
Mild Anxiety vs Serious Anxiety
Mild anxiety is one of those pesky temporary feelings that can creep up on anyone, at any time, about anything! Sometimes there’s no rhyme or reason for it.
It’s nervousness, butterflies-in-your-tummy kinda stuff. You can experience it preparing for an interview, a new date, or even going on a roller-coaster.
But, then there’s the real anxiety suffered by millions of people and its debilitating effects on their lives. This is a much more profound experience than just nervousness, and can take over your life if you allow it to.
You may not be able to pinpoint what’s really causing it OR, you may know exactly why, but can’t find a way to deal with it.
Have You Experienced Phobic Or Trauma Anxiety?
We can all suffer from anxiety at some stage in our life. It can be caused by a serious life event like a death of a family member or friend. Maybe illness, financial issues, and even menopause.
OR, quite commonly, a traumatic incident in our childhood can trigger a phobia or fear.
When I was a kid growing up in a small village in the UK, our priest decided it would be a great school outing to take our class up to the bell tower of our church.
No probs. Seemed like a fun thing to do for a bunch of 8-year-olds. The thing is…he misjudged the time of day and the clock struck midday while we were up there.
Apart from the deafening sound of the huge hammer hitting the bell twelve times, there was this whirring sound of the mechanism controlling the hammer.
As kids, we thought this was hilarious, all giggling, and trying to scramble down the ladder in a hurry, urged on by the frantic priest.
I Didn’t Think Anything Of This Until Years Later
As an adult in my mid-thirties, I started to notice that I couldn’t be near (or even look at) anything that had gears, cogs, or any type of mechanism.
In particular, Grandfather clocks gave me the heebie-jeebies.
I’d get a serious panic attack, couldn’t breathe, my hair stood up on the back of my neck, and I’d break out in a sweat.
I would actually have to leave the house we were visiting (or sometimes a restaurant) to distance myself from the supposed ‘danger’…and I could never understand why.
Dig Deep Enough And You’ll Find The Cause
I’m a totally rational person, or at least I like to think so, but this ‘phobic anxiety’ didn’t make any sense to me.
Until one day I was having a conversation with a friend who said that something happened in her childhood that manifested her anxiety long after she became an adult, and that I needed to think back to what may have caused mine.
It took some digging because it was a long-forgotten memory but finally the penny dropped!
They Say It’s Best To Face Your Fears Head-On
So, a friend (who I wasn’t happy with at the time) arranged for me to assist a clock maker while he pulled apart a Grandfather clock to repair it – and BANG! – anxiety brought under an element of control.
Definitely not a comfortable experience…but it worked!
This is apparently called exposure therapy in medical terms, but I wasn’t aware of it at the time. I have since read about other ways people deal with their phobic anxiety.
Thankfully, mine was nothing as totally over-the-top as letting a Tarantula crawl on your hand to get rid of a spider phobia…can you imagine? OMG!
So, no more anxiety phobia for me…to clocks at least. Don’t know how I’d go in a room full of big cogs or mechanisms (or Tarantulas) but I doubt I’ll ever find myself in that situation.
There’s No Making Light Of Anxiety
You can’t just pretend it’s not happening, and don’t let anyone tell you to stop being silly and just ‘deal with it’. They obviously don’t understand!
However, it’s important that you confront the cause of anxiety in order to get it under some control.
Ignoring it won’t fix the problem.
By confronting it I mean taking charge and deciding when you will let those thoughts into your mind, AND how much you will let them affect you.
Do You Have Past Anxiety Triggers That You’ve Forgotten?
They may be masquerading as other issues, but deep down it could be more fundamental.
It’s worth delving into your past memories, then analyzing any past incident that makes you feel really uncomfortable. Depending on your level of phobic anxiety around it, decide on the best way to deal with it.
What The Heck Is High-Functioning Anxiety?
This a weird concept…having anxiety, but functioning at a high level. Seems counter-intuitive doesn’t it?
But many people have it, particularly in high-stress work environments. This a where you strive to accomplish as much as possible.
You want to be seen to function perfectly normally, in your job, at home, and in social situations.
You may be successful in your career, appear to be on top of everything, and have people comment on how organized and capable you are (little do they know!)
This level of commitment to a routine and having to achieve as much as possible is often driven by a form of perfectionism and the need for control.
But, because control can’t always be maintained or guaranteed, and even the best-laid plans go astray, so your anxiety level rises.
The worst is that you’re really good at hiding that anxiety. This was totally me!
Procrastination Is Another Sign Of HFA
This is brought on by a fear of getting things wrong. So you constantly double-check yourself.
Like re-reading emails 3-4 times before sending them in an effort to get them perfect, or constantly making lists for everything whether you need them or not…just in case you miss something.
This becomes like a self-fulfilling prophecy. You don’t want to show your vulnerability and ask for help, especially as everyone thinks you’re so capable…and you don’t want to let go of the control you think you need.
Once again…leading to more anxiety and stress!
Here Are Signs You Have Anxiety
- You’re constantly worrying about everything, even small issues.
- It seems to control you – rather than you controlling it.
- There can be a physical reaction, like a form of paralysis.
- You find it difficult to suppress negativity and find the positives in life.
- Often you can’t fully express the problem in words – it can seem totally irrational.
- The response can be very emotional, preventing you from dealing with the issue.
- This feeling can last for days, not just hours causing you to question your sanity.
- It can sometimes prevent you from having normal interactions with people.
- You have trouble sleeping and often wake with a feeling of impending doom.
- Concentrating on anything for a normal period of time seems impossible.
- Discussing it with family and friends fills you with dread in case they judge you.
- This may lead to feelings of hopelessness, isolation, and loneliness.
Let’s Look At Some Of The Causes Of Midlife Anxiety
The kids have all left home and you’re left with an Empty Nest.
It’s very common for a feeling of panic to set in as you realize that everything you have been used to in your life has changed.
It may leave you with a void that you don’t know how to fill. But, there is more to life than just raising kids, and they will still always be around. This is Empty Nest Syndrome and it’s a very real issue.
You have unresolved issues with family, friends or your spouse
This may involve dealing with touchy subjects that you are reluctant to deal with because you feel like it will open a hornet’s nest. The problem is that unless you tackle it, nothing will change.
It may be worth opening that hornet’s nest to get everything out in the open. At least you will be able to get some form of resolution one way or another.
Your relationship may be teetering on the edge of collapse.
Maybe you’ve been unhappy for years and things are coming to a head for you, particularly now the kids have gone.
Even though you know it’s pointless and soul-destroying remaining in an unhappy relationship, the thought of taking the steps needed to get out of it is overwhelming.
Time for some serious soul-searching and planning. BTW, your spouse may be unhappy too. Talking it through may provide a resolution one way or another. Easy to say I know…but what’s the alternative? staying unhappy for the rest of your life?
You may be introverted and put off by the thought of dating again.
This is very common if who’ve been in a long-term relationships that has ended or you have lost your partner. Sometimes it feels easier to just stay single rather than battling the dating minefield.
Staying single isn’t so bad…at least for a period of time so you can ‘find your independence’ again.
Often the perfect new partner can come along when you least expect it…and usually once you’ve got your new life sorted out.
Maybe you’ve finally come to terms with the fact that you’re Gay.
Do you feel like you’ve been living a lie for years? This is more common than you may think. You deserve to be happy, irrespective of what people say. It’s your life and you have the right to live it your way.
It’s a waste of your precious life to continue trying to behave in a way that suits others.
If you feel those around you won’t accept who you really are, then consider making some locational changes in your life so you can finally ‘Be You’.
Contrary to what some people think, ignoring it won’t change anything. You’ll just stay unhappy and unfulfilled.
There’s something in your life that you’ve always wanted to do.
Maybe you’ve always dreamt of a move to Florence to try your hand at Water Color painting. Or, volunteer at the Orang Utan sanctuary in Borneo. I know that’s a moot point at the moment with Covid-19 but it won’t be forever so start planning.
There’s so much life to be lived…don’t waste it dreaming but not doing. If you have a partner, you may be pleasantly surprised. They may love the idea too.
It could be time to finally give the ‘finger’ to a job you hate.
This was my situation. I was fed up with my extremely stressful, demanding, and frankly, thankless corporate career, and I wanted to head off traveling and working for myself online. I have a long list of places I want to see.
AND, selfish though it may seem, I was going to do it whether my husband chose to come with me or not. The desire was that strong.
Do you feel the urge to explore your Bohemian side.
Maybe there’s a part of you that has wanted to follow a different path for some time but it seems out of reach. You don’t know where or how to make such a radical change to your life.
The problem is that living a life differently to the one you really want is not going to resolve itself without action. Related post – Living With Intention
And don’t waste time wondering why you feel this way at this stage of your life. We all change as we get older…so do our expectations and desires for what we want in life. It’s perfectly natural and doesn’t need to be over-analyzed.
Be brave, live the lifestyle you want. The significant people around you will accept it…and all the others don’t matter!
Why Embracing Your Anxiety Will Be Beneficial
I know this sounds strange but anxiety is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong.
There is something causing it, albeit not always real or rational but it’s worth taking the time to analyze what it may be.
It helps to see anxiety as an opportunity to look deeper so you can find the real cause and take steps to deal with it, because anxiety can be a ‘friend’ rather than a ‘foe’ if you choose to heed the warning.
And, you definitely need to get used to the concept of Self-Care because you really need it my friend…now more than ever.
I’m Not Referring To Clinical Anxiety Or Depression
A blog is no place to discuss or speculate on serious life or death mental health issues. In these cases, and if you have thoughts of self-harm please seek professional counseling.
This post is about the unresolved aspects of your life. Like the previous section where we discussed possible issues with relationships, unfulfilled dreams, sexuality, and career changes among others.
These need to be given your time because ignoring them isn’t going to solve any problem.
They need to be examined for the root cause and possible solutions. Only then, by confronting them will you gain back control and get on top of your anxieties.
Setting aside some uninterrupted time to think things through may give you a light-bulb moment.
So, if you can’t get to the bottom of the cause, or you know what it is but feel unable to deal with it, there are some things you can do to help in the short-term.
10 Actions To Help You Calm Midlife Anxiety:
1. Name 5 Things
This works by distracting your emotions with other things to experience. Use this technique any time and anywhere you feel your anxiety getting a grip on you.
2. Start A Journal
Write down your fears and worries, and possible solutions in your Journal. These are your private musings. Be as specific as you like. Use colored pens and get creative. It’s amazing how this can be a distracting and therapeutic exercise.
3. Use A Simple Breathing Technique
Breathe in for a count of 4, hold for 7 counts, and breathe out to a count of 8. It may take a little practice but you’ll start to get the rhythm and breathe in more deeply in a shorter time, whilst stretching out the exhale. This exercise will send a signal to your brain to relax.
4. Do Some Exercise
Go out and walk in nature. Spend time really noticing the colors and smells of flowers, the touch of the grass on your bare feet (ala Richard Gere in Pretty Woman). Watch the sunset. Look out for insects; butterflies, Lady Bugs, etc. This is a great distracting technique that will help quiet your brain for a while.
5. Use Essential Oils
Use in a diffuser allowing the gentle scent to permeate your environment, or use aromatherapy candles. You can also keep a bottle of your favorite oil in your pocket. Next time you feel stressed and anxious, take a whiff. Lavender, Rose, Bergamot, Jasmine, Chamomile, and Vanilla will all be beneficial. Also, Sandalwood, but it’s sometimes hard to find. (More about Essentials Oils)
6. Drink A Steaming Cup Of Herbal Tea
Try to stay away from caffeine if you can (super hard for me ‘cos I luurve coffee) A hot cup of herbal tea has a calming effect…and you’ll probably feel good about being ‘herbally healthy’ – try Chamomile, Spearmint, Rose Hip, Lavender, or Ginseng. Add a lemon wedge or splodge of natural honey to your tea for a boost of Vitamin C
7. Spend Time With Your Pet
Their silly antics and unconditional love will help soothe your anxieties as it’s really hard not to be amused and distracted by their behavior. Animals often pick up on your mood and seem to feel that you need some TLC, and they benefit emotionally from your attention as much as you do from theirs.
8. Listen To Some Calm, Relaxing Music
Create your personal playlist so you only hear the types of songs that soothe your mood. Lay on the floor or the bed and totally relax. Really listen to the music and stop other thoughts from entering your mind. Just a thought…maybe stay away from the heavy-beat style and stick to calming, easy listening instead.
9. Start To Practice Meditation
You can choose to listen to ‘Guided Meditation’ using recordings, or just sit quietly and comfortably, concentrating on your breathing.
Or try ‘Progressive’ meditation. Lay down flat on the floor in a quiet, calm environment (if possible). Then starting at your toes, think about each part of your body starting to totally relax, concentrating on feeling the tension leaving each part before moving onto the next part of your body.
10. Get Plenty Of Quality Sleep
The average adult needs between 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Anxiety and stress will be exacerbated by a lack of rest. So, another option is to have an afternoon nap.
And please…no inner dialogue about feeling guilty or lazy. This is your health and state of mind we’re talking about here. Have an uncluttered bedroom and invest in some lovely bed linen, so sliding in between the sheets for a good nap will be something you really relish.
Remember, you only have one mortal life to live. There are no second chances to get it right!
These are just a few effective techniques for helping you control your anxiety. But, the best one will always be to listen to it, analyze it, confront it, and act on what it’s really trying to tell you about your life and the changes you need to make.
Now, I know that some people believe that death isn’t the end, but call me a skeptic. Until someone can definitively prove otherwise, I assume we only have one life on earth…and it has to be lived in a way that brings us Joy, Happiness, Peace, and Fulfillment.
Everyone is different. But, if you have something you really NEED to achieve…go do it girl!
By the way…that’s not selfish ‘cos no-one says our destiny is to suffer things in life we don’t want. That may mean we need to make some tough choices…but the rewards for our Mind, Body and Spirit can be life-changing.
Did you find this post helpful for calming your midlife anxiety? Let me know it the comments below, and please share it on SM.