Over 50 and worried
Every second your heart beats, whether you like it or not. So, too, there are natural rhythms to other aspects of your being. There is a natural 'beat' that comes out of our mind, whether we like it or not. I have heard it many times from countless patients: "Doc, I can't help but worry!" So, what's on your mind as you get into the 50s?
LONGING FOR YOUTHFUL DAYS
At 50, when you look back at your early days, you can find yourself longing for those days when, as they say 'you didn't have a care in the world'. What's the big difference between you in these later years and when you were younger?
This will be different for each of us, but in growing up, our status changes in several possible ways: making a living, marriage, having children, and owning property, to name a few. These can have their ups and downs, which adds to the challenge of just having the responsibility.
WORRIES BEYOND THE 50S
In all of this, as you get older, you may also find health challenges added to the mix and having an impact in other areas. Some suggest that the older you get, the less you worry, but in some studies, persons over 50 admit to worrying about serious illnesses, failing minds and forgetfulness. More than half also have a big concern for loss of independence, becoming a burden to others, and how their children will cope if they fall ill or pass away.
THE WORRY CYCLE
We have lots of thoughts on our mind during the average day, and it does not all rank as worry. There are three boxes you can throw stuff in: just a passing thought, a concern, and then there's worry.
"Doc, since I felt the lump, I can't stop thinking about it. I keep wondering what it is and I don't like how I feel when I hear about all those people who had the same thing like me."
What's your diagnosis of this patient? Worry? Yes, you got it right. Can't get your mind off the problem and beginning to add things to the picture that are often on the negative side.
STEPS TO REDUCE WORRY
Reducing worry at any age is a good thing for your overall health.
Here are a few tips to consider:
- Talk to yourself or talk to someone; pray about it.
- Decide if this thing is worth worrying about. Ask yourself if anything is worth the worry.
- Do something that can help. Worry, if you follow it, will either make you do nothing or do things that won't help the situation. Do things that will address the situation, no matter how small.
- Draw on your experience. "Doc, you know how much I have been through?" You have volumes of experience from childhood that has taught you stuff about yourself and the world. Go out and take another shot at the problem.
There's an old Swedish saying that goes "worry gives a small thing a big shadow". So, work on reducing those shadows that have been following you.
- Dr Tomlin Paul is a family physician and university lecturer and author of the book 'Detailing Doctors!' Email firstname.lastname@example.org.