Anxiety is a normal human emotion. It’s a natural response to the world around you and your feelings about the challenges you face living as a person after 50.
When anxiety becomes overwhelming or lasts for a long time, it can impact your overall health.
In particular, daily life after 50 presents unique challenges that perhaps younger people encounter less often.
Mature people often feel some degree of stress about:
- retirement savings,
- how their offspring are fairing,
- loss of personal strength, stamina, and mobility,
- ailing friends,
- gradual lessening of sight, hearing, and mental acuity,
- balancing work, errands, chores, and free time,
- and mortality.
If you’re over the age of 50 and experiencing anxiety more often than you’d like, here are 11 tips that can help.
1. Learn Your Anxiety Triggers (Journaling Can Help)
The first step in dealing with anxiety is to identify the triggers that are causing it.
This helps you to better pinpoint what was happening in your life up until the point where your anxiety began:
- What were you doing?
- Who was around?
- How did they act?
- What conclusions were you reaching, either consciously or unconsciously?
You may not be able to pinpoint exactly why something caused an increase in one type of anxiety over another, but being able to recognize patterns will help guide future treatment plans so that they can be put into action sooner rather than later.
Journaling can be an effective way to work through your feelings and process your emotions. If you’re anxious, journaling can help you get things off your chest so that they don’t build up inside.
Writing about your day or about how you feel is useful for different reasons: it’s therapeutic, calming, and can be cathartic.
You can also use it as a way to track progress — if you start writing down how often you experience anxiety before and after taking certain actions (e.g., taking a walk), then this will shine light on what helps alleviate it or make it worse.
TIP: when writing in your journal, try to also identify positive beliefs, thoughts, and feelings that you might be having. As humans, we tend to get more of what we focus upon. Including your positive experiences within your journal can help keep your outlook bright. In particular, include those things for which you feel grateful.
2. Avoid Anxiety Triggers When Possible
If there are specific situations that seem like major triggers for an increase in anxiety symptoms, then try avoiding them when possible.
For example, if getting into unnecessary disagreements makes you anxious then maybe don’t have conversations with people who tend towards being argumentative.
3. Try Talk Therapy. It Works.
If you’re feeling anxious, counseling can help. In fact, it’s one of the most effective ways to tackle anxiety. With a therapist or counselor, you can explore why you feel anxious and learn how to manage your emotions.
Counselors will likely ask questions about what triggers your anxiety and why it occurs in certain situations. They’ll also help lead the conversation toward possible solutions for managing it better — whether that means making lifestyle changes or learning more effective ways of dealing with stress.
Counseling can help identify the patterns that might be causing your anxiety in the first place.
Lifestyle Upgrades to Alleviate Anxiety
A lifestyle upgrade is when you make minor improvements to your daily habits.
4. Sleeping Deeply
A good night’s sleep is essential.
If you’re not sleeping enough or well enough, it can affect your mood and leave you feeling stressed and anxious. Aim for 7-9 hours a night, particularly if you have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Keep in mind that some people may need more sleep than others.
If you’re a light sleeper, you may want to consider blackout curtains, a white noise machine, an eye mask, a small dose of melatonin (ask your doctor), or earplugs. Also, it might be wise to ease up on the caffeine.
5. Anaerobic Exercise
Exercise releases endorphins that make you feel good about yourself. Fitness training reduces stress levels because it helps you deal with everyday problems more efficiently by giving you a sense of control over your life.
If possible, try to make time for some kind of physical activity every day — even if it’s just taking a brisk walk around the block or going for a light jog through your neighborhood before dinner. You’ll feel better both physically and mentally after doing so.
TIP: if you want a real mood booster, do sprint drills or higher-intensity intervals. This type of exercise releases extra brain chemicals that usually help you feel zestful and accomplished afterward.
6. Deep Breathing Techniques Lessen Anxiety
Take a deep breath in and out through your nose. Make your exhalations longer than your inhalations. Repeat this process until you feel yourself finding the stillness of your center.
7. Eat Healthier Foods
Nutrient deficiencies contribute to anxiety.
Eating healthy foods can help combat feelings of stress by providing an abundance of nutrients to your body – nutrients that are essential for good health.
A diet rich in vegetables can help ensure good health while providing sufficient nutrients to keep anxiety at bay.
8. Resist the Temptation to Self-Medicate with Alcohol
Drinking alcohol will only make it harder for you to deal with anxiety symptoms because alcohol impairs judgment and clouds rational thinking processes — which is exactly what you’re trying to avoid. At best, alcohol doesn’t remove anxiety; it just postpones it.
9. Avoid Overthinking
Worrying about things that are out of your control – or worrying about what other people think about you – can be a significant cause of anxiety.
Try to be aware of whether or not you’re getting caught up in a cycle of negative thoughts.
Remind yourself out loud that “the past is done, and the future hasn’t happened yet.”
We have all had bad days or have been through difficult times, but it isn’t necessary to let those experiences get looped in your head and stop you from enjoying life in the moment.
The future may not seem like an option right now — but just imagine what lovely things might happen if you remained decidedly positive and focused on your desires and goals.
Do not worry about things that are out of your control. Think about it this way: if you’re worried about something, and it turns out fine – you wasted time worrying. Instead, try thinking positively.
10. Instead of Being a Rushed Person, Be a Centered Person
Don’t get into the habit of rushing through different tasks or being too impatient with yourself.
Rushing creates stress which leads to feeling anxiety.
Take your time with your tasks, and worry less about how much time is left until a particular event.
Leaving the house late – and then getting frustrated in traffic and driving fast to make your next appointment – is an untidy, frantic way to live. It’s the opposite of chillness.
11. Recognize Anxiety as an Opportunity
Anxiety is a real thing, but it’s also a condition that can be treated.
To grow mentally and spiritually as a person, you’ll want to be able to face changes and challenges with strength and grace.
The intention is – with time – to get better at metabolizing anxiety.
That means you develop an internal process that gets more adept at turning anxious thoughts into positive outcomes.
Anyone can learn how to do this. It just takes patience and a genuine, deliberate wish to get better at it.
Additional Sources about Anxiety After 50:
Nutrient Deficiencies and Mental Health – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2738337/
Gut Bacteria and Anxiety – https://chriskresser.com/your-gut-microbiome-and-anxiety-whats-the-connection/
Research on Thought Replacement – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4760272/