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High Anxiety

Why women over 40 are feeling more stress than ever and what you can do about it.
You'll get over it.
Just get a good night sleep, and everything will be better in the morning.
Stop bieng a worrier. Look for the silver lining.
-Tricia Drevets
Did your mother ever give you one of these well-meaning admonishments when you were a girl?
Back then, feeling anxious about certain events seemed to be a normal part of growing up.
Stress levels would come and go as you faced school exams, break-ups and many of the “firsts” of life,
but you would always bounce back.
Scientific studies have concluded that youth isn’t all that. In fact, cases have discovered that people peak as they approach middle and old age.If you’ve gotten past 40, chances are:
But what about today?
If you are like many women over the age of 40,
you are dealing with some forms of stress on a regular basis.
Whether it is financial worries, health concerns for yourself or someone you love or juggling your kids’
schedules with your job, life for women in our age group is just plain stressful.
Anxiety is a normal response to stress. It can come in many forms such as sleeplessness,
a racing pulse, changes in appetite or even dizziness.
When these bouts are few and far between, we can “get over it” as our mothers may have demanded.
But what about when they come regularly – even daily – and they begin to change how we live our lives?

Affecting at least one in 10 adults, anxiety disorder is the most common mental health issue in Canada, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Women are more than twice as likely as men to get an anxiety disorder, and women in their 50s and 60s seem to be the most vulnerable.

Why? Researchers continue to work on this question,
but they have identified the following causes.
  • Financial worries – Traditionally, women in this age group have been financially stable. Today’s reality, however, is that middle-aged women are concerned about their future. Many expect to work long past retirement age in order to make ends meet.
  • Hormonal imbalances – Fluctuating hormone levels, especially lower estrogen, can play a big part in mood swings and overall health for women.
  • Empty nest syndrome – After focusing so much of their lives on raising their children, many women feel at a loss when their kids leave home to attend college or to pursue careers.
  • Aging parents – Many women in their 40s and 50s are sandwiched between caring for their elderly parents and caring for their children still living at home.
Are we more stressed out than our foremothers? The answer is yes. A recent poll by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) found that adults are increasingly anxious -- especially about health, safety, and finances.

Whether you have occasional anxiety or a more serious disorder, there are steps you can take every day to help manage and even minimize your stress.

That 2018 APA poll highlights the need to help reduce stress with regular exercise, rest, healthy eating, and enjoyable activities, according to APA President Dr. Anita Everett in a press release accompanying the release of the findings.

Regular exercise

Movement is medicine, and one of the best things you can do for your mental and physical health is to get regular exercise. For example, a brisk 30-minute walk helps to release endorphins that reduce stress levels in the body. Other good cardiovascular exercise options include running, biking, dancing, swimming, and sports such as soccer, basketball, and tennis.


Lack of sleep can trigger or worsen anxiety symptoms. If you have trouble winding down after a busy day, try establishing a sleep routine that includes relaxing activities such as sipping hot tea, taking a warm shower or bath, listening to music, and breathing deeply. Limiting your use of electronics before bed can help prepare your mind and body for sleep as well.

Healthy eating

While substances such as caffeine and alcohol may initially give you a mental boost that seems to curb anxiety, their long-term effect can be just the opposite. Aim to eat a healthy, balanced diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and be sure to keep well hydrated.

Enjoyable activities

When stress builds up, is time to switch gears and do something that brings you pleasure and enjoyment. Getting outdoors for fresh air and sunshine can ease anxiety as can reading a book or engaging in a favorite hobby. Meditation, yoga, and other calming activities can help minimize stress. Another way to help combat stress is to keep a journal of how your moods and feelings fluctuate during the day. This listing can help you identify what is causing you stress and help you find ways to cope with them.

Anxiety can feel overwhelming. If these steps do not offer you relief, then it may be time to seek professional help. Here are a few websites to help you find a qualified therapist.

By Tricia Drevets on 2018-09-20

Tricia Drevets is a freelance writer specializing in areas of interest of health and wellness. As the mother of six kids, who range in age from 16 to 27, she also enjoys writing about parenting, communication, and education. Tricia is an adjunct professor in the communications department of her local community college. Her hobbies include acting and directing with her local community theater and hiking in and around Southern Oregon, where she makes her home.