Now - we're not particularly one's for labels, but this article by the Guardian does offer an interesting perspective on the likely cause of stress throughout each stage of your life, the triggers and some helpful suggestions to mitigate the impact.
We've picked out the bits we think are useful both for yourself and your loved ones.
What to look out for:
This is a time of huge life transition. There is this pressure to make lifelong decisions at a really young age. Social media permits endless comparisons, with others who have made the same or different decisions. When we do social comparisons, we typically come off worse. Many in this age group will focus on how to have the perfect marriage and children while still making an impact at work. They might compare their lives to those of their parents at the same age. There may be a pressure to start a family. There’s sometimes an unrealistic expectation that everything is possible,” Fowke says. For women in particular, children impact on career progression, which brings new worries.
Self-criticism is massive in this age group. Many people have installed an inner bully in their head, that berates them 24/7. We would not tolerate that kind of person in our life following us around saying that to us, but we do it to ourselves.
It’s OK to be rubbish at new things.
One of the great things about getting older is that you can fail
We encourage self-compassion. It is not about letting yourself off the hook, it’s about self-acceptance. For one week, treat yourself with the same kindness and acceptance that you would treat a good friend whom you love.
Listen carefully to your anxiety. Panic attacks are often a sign that the brain needs to have opportunities throughout the day to come down to a state of calm.
Know your thinking patterns: catch yourself in the act of catastrophising or being a perfectionist, or inflexible, and name the behaviour to yourself. This helps to take anxiety out of the driving seat.
What to look out for:
There’s real mental and physical load at this age. Financial concerns, ageing, a sense of mortality are all factors. People start to become aware that life doesn’t go on for ever. There are questions such as “Have I put enough money aside? How will I face retirement?” And all the while there’s a need to feel constantly productive and efficient. Commonly known as the sandwich generation, many in this age group will care for both teenage children and ageing parents. Relationship breakdown, divorce and loneliness can be further triggers, along with the emergence of health issues.
Waking at night, often with the mind whirring. “If you have cortisol racing through the body in the day, it will not switch off at night. Anger and arguments with partners can increase.
Give yourself permission to switch off. Read, put on music. What you do doesn’t matter: it’s the stopping that counts.
Give yourself permission to switch off and suggests including regular “stop points” – ideally three times a day. What you do in this time doesn’t matter; it’s the stopping that counts. Meditate, read the paper, put on music during the commute home. It’s important to “make that switch from seeing downtime as selfish”. Exercise also helps by burning off adrenaline.
What to look out for:
“Death, to be blunt”. Friendship groups at this age may be decimated by ill health and death. As in any time of transition, the strain on relationships is immense. “If one partner is retired and one isn’t, the one who isn’t is very likely to say, ‘What have you been doing all day?’” This can exacerbate the sense of purposelessness. There may be conflict with grownup children, distance from grandchildren.
For those who have associated stress with a busy working life, it can be hard to recognise listlessness as a sign of anxiety, while those who are new to retirement might be running on adrenaline, with nowhere to spend it, no sense of purpose.
Procrastination, along with enlarging health worries. Many people feel reluctant to leave the house. Some feel frustration at not achieving anything in the day, or ruminate on past disappointments.
Acceptance. Accept the things you have done, the things you will never be able to do.
This age “a great period for relaunch. Our values change. We put less emphasis on ambition and more on relationships, other people, which is very rewarding.” Finding new routines helps.
Volunteering is one way to do this, although the challenge could also be planning a holiday, with a subsidiary goal of learning a language, say, or a physical challenge such as running a 5K. Try your hand at something new. And remember, “It’s OK to be crap at things,”
Over 70 years
What to look out for:
Each decade over 70 brings subtly different challenges, but throughout this period you may be facing the loss of a partner, or of friends, and a perceived loss of place in society. For some there is the prospect of a move into a care home, or the fear of it.
There may be financial worries, particularly about the cost of care. You may not be confident in the ability of your family to steer your life. How much do you trust your kids, for example.
Somatising – expressing distress in physical symptoms – is common. Loss of weight and appetite are often interpreted as the result of an altered lifestyle: But they may be caused by stress or anxiety – a leg pain might be the result of anxiety around walking, for example.
The key, is to keep your social network as active as possible. “We’re social creatures. Keep at it.” Communities are full of opportunities to socialise: seek them out. Even small daily moments of interaction help, such as chatting to postmen or shopkeepers.
This is a great time to take up a new hobby or physical activity – especially one that involves meeting others.
Try to focus on what is causing the stress and try to set the worry to one side. “What is it that you are thinking about that stops you going to sleep. Why can’t you switch your brain off? Have you always been a worrier, a person who cogitates too much in the dark hours when you should be putting into neutral?” Try altering your breathing to slow the heart rate (by breathing out for one second more than you breathe in, for instance).
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