Life at the moment seems full of uncertainties and worrying news.
From Brexit to rising inflation, terrorism and the NHS, every day the papers and television add to the list of our worries and stresses: we are living in a world where fear is shadowing our existence.
Anxiety is hardly new, despite it being recognised as a clinical category only in the past 30 years. Sigmund Freud wrote a book about it in 1926, as did Soren Kierkegaard 80 years before him. In the fourth century BC, Hippocrates wrote that anxiousness is “a difficult disease. The patient thinks he has something like a thorn, something pricking him in his viscera, and nausea torments him.”
Ironically, retirement is supposed to be the time when you relax and play golf, a time when you are older and wiser and now have the answers to many of life’s questions.
With ageing comes new concerns, such as managing your health, how to fund retirement, and a general sense of “loss.”
The main worries for older people, according to several surveys, are:
- Loss of independence.
- Declining health.
- Running out of money.
- Not being able to live at home.
- Death of a spouse or other family member.
- Inability to manage their own activities of daily living.
- Not being able to drive.
- Isolation or loneliness.
- Strangers caring for them.
- Fear of falling or hurting themselves.
Most of these concerns are understandable and can to some extent be addressed but it is the problems outside of our control that are the cause of the plague of anxiety that is reaching epidemic proportions particularly for the younger generation.
Older adults reported generally lower levels of stress when compared to other age groups. This is not necessarily new and there have been several theories as to why this is the case. One of the more popular ones is the belief that older adults are simply more experienced at handling stress. It seems inevitable that over the course of a long life, there will be certain emotional highs and lows. Older adults seem to have a better perspective. They can view stressors within a context of other experiences they have encountered over time.
This often produces a certain level of resilience that is highlighted by the deeper understanding that stress is usually temporary, and will pass.
Overall Increase in Anxiety
Despite affecting 1 in 5 people on a daily basis, many people living with anxiety are simply told to ‘snap out of it.’ Anyone who has lived with anxiety will know it is much more difficult than that.
In a 2010 Anxiety UK survey, 55% of respondents revealed that they did not feel comfortable telling others about their anxiety. Hiding anxiety can lead to increased isolation, resulting in prolonged suffering and often a delay in getting help.
Anxiety UK is the nation’s leading anxiety disorders charity, having helped more than 1 million people since 1970. It is estimated that Anxiety UK helps someone at their wits end every 14 minutes.
Visit www.anxietyuk.org.uk or telephone the Infoline: 08444 775 774, for more information.
What really matters
It is important to stop stressing about the things you cannot do anything about, and concentrate of what you can do.
Be intentional about taking care of yourself. Develop healthy eating habits and don’t neglect your rest. A good night’s sleep can revive your body, mind, and spirit. Daily exercise can give you a sense of accomplishment and help to refresh your mood. If you feel trapped inside all day, even a few moments to step outside and enjoy the sun can make a difference.
Take time to laugh and enjoy a funny film or listen to a comedy on the radio. Stop watching the news all day and catch up with the old programmes on BBC radio 4 extra that will still make you laugh.
There are many words of inspiration to help you appreciate what is good in life and take the time to enjoy what you already have. Here are some of our favourites:
‘Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’ – Matthew 6 verse 34
‘I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them have never happened.’ – Mark Twain
‘Worry is a misuse of imagination.’ – Dan Zadra
So in the words of the Bobbie McFerrin song “Don’t worry, be happy” and make the most of what good things life has to offer.
Do you have any tricks for keeping anxiety at bay? Have you noticed people worry more or have you found yourself more anxious recently?
The Modern Malaise
The list below identifies what is causing us to feel anxious and stressed. Do you suffer from any of them?
- Stressed by the need to buy the latest things but feeling strangely unsatisfied once you’ve bought them – and then almost instantly wanting something else.
- Exhausted by living a busy life and feeling that you’ve got no time to yourself to just relax and get some peace and space.
- Isolated trying to make and keep up with as many friends as possible, but only rarely connecting with them in the way you’d really like.
- Distracted by keeping up with the news and then worrying about what else could happen.
- Pressurised by the idea that you should be ‘living life to the full’ and that you may be missing out.
- Depressed by the idea that you must look and behave a certain way to be seen as attractive.
- Struggling to find the right work/life balance.
- Confused by the complexity of the world, the amount of information out there; but with no guidance on what should be relevant to you.
- Worried that you can see all the bad things going on in the world but don’t know what you can do about them.
- Overwhelmed feeling that you’ve lost touch with what really matters to you – but that it’s impossible to see any alternatives to the way you currently live.