When it comes to dealing with anxiety as a middle aged man, you are your own worst enemy. It's not uncommon to find men performing all sorts of behaviors that fuel anxiety as they get older, and the more you allow yourself to continue performing those behaviors, the more likely you'll find yourself dealing with intense stress and anxiety.
COMMON ADULT BEHAVIORS Gambling
Gambling can be a fun sport when played with friends for a low amount of money, but going to the casino or playing for stakes that could cause any financial stress may easily contribute to frequent anxiety - even if you win. It's not necessarily the outcome of gambling that causes that level of tension. It is the act of gambling in general, as it's known to cause an increase in adrenaline that leads to persistent stress.
Alcohol leads to anxiety in two ways. First, alcohol itself causes body changes that create anxiety both during and after drinking. Second, alcohol can cause regretful behaviors that may create anxiety later. Any alcohol consumption or abuse may lead to persistent stress over time.
One of the newest anxiety contributors is the overdependence that men have on smart phones. All of the business emails you check regularly and meetings you schedule via your phone all cause a low level anxiety that continues throughout the day, both from the "need' to check your phone and see if you have any messages and the time spent staring at an electronics screen. The results aren't pronounced, but they do affect your daily stress levels.
It's easy to reach your mid-life and feel that you have regrets. How you compensate for those regrets may increase your daily tension. Many men try to out-do their own realistic abilities, such as playing basketball against those that are younger and in better health, and when they lose they get stressed which increases anxiety later.
"Toughing it Out"
Men are taught to keep their problems inward and not burden others with their thoughts. That is easily the worst way to handle stress and another reason that men tend to fuel their own anxiety. Social support - defined as the ability for someone to feel they can trust in others - is easily one of the most important cures for stress and low confidence. Reaching out to others is not just a way of getting help - it's also a way of coping.
Interestingly, concerns over health can contribute to anxiety in separate ways. Men that ignore their health cause more stress on their bodies, which in turn creates more daily anxiety. Men that don't ignore their health occasionally pay too much attention to it, over-reacting to every little ache and pain. You need to find the right balance by taking care of your health but not letting it consume you.
Running into financial problems is always stressful. Running into them in the middle of your life is perhaps even more so. Society places a lot of value on money, and creating financial stress as a midlife man can be even worse, knowing that you haven't been able to save the amount you had hoped.
Sex and Love
Married or not, men that have lost their passion for sex (or are not actively seeking it) can also experience more anxiety. The anxiety may be about their own sexual prowess, or it may be about whether or not they'll be able to find that passion in the future, but maintaining an active sex life can also be a calming influence on stress and anxiety.
It's amazing how much a man's physical body can affect his mental health, and one of the ways this occurs is through sheer laziness. If you spend most of your days on a couch doing nothing, your body will be filled with energy and no sure what to do with it. So instead of putting it to something productive, it will turn it into anxiety.
Lack of SMART Goal Setting
Middle aged men tend to suffer from one of two problems. Either they have no goals, which gives them less to work for in the future, or they have unrealistic goals that can never be met and cause anxiety and failure. SMART goal setting is an important component of aging, allowing you to continue to strive for new and interesting accomplishments with each passing year.
Men also tend to engage in little things that may not initially contribute too much anxiety, but build up and cause stress and anxiety over time. Things like watching horror movies, avoiding sleep, and engaging in considerable and passionate competition (rather than a little bit of healthy competition). All of these can lead to pronounced anxiety that start to grate on men over time.
Focusing on a Life of Good Mental Health
Aging comfortably and being satisfied with yourself requires you to care about your mental health. Unfortunately it is the men themselves that tend to cause their own stress and anxiety. If you want to continue to enjoy your life, you need to adopt good mental health strategies and avoid the above behaviors that can fuel anxiety.
About the Author: Ryan Rivera experience considerable anxiety in his youth, and has worked had to avoid fueling that anxiety and stress as he ages. He has tips and strategies available at www.calmclinic.com.
Anxiety and Sleep
According to Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), anxiety is a reaction to stress. Its key markers are feelings of tension, worried thoughts, and physical changes such as elevated blood pressure.
Just like physical pain, in and of itself anxiety is not a bad thing: it signals that something is wrong. Temporary anxiety is normal and can count as healthy, because it draws our attention to causes of stress that might need correcting. But anxiety disorders–the excessive and chronic reactions to stress–are mental illnesses. Anxiety disorders are, in other words, worry that sticks way past its usefulness to us; it does not go away and often gets worse with time.
Click here to see a complete guide to Anxiety and Sleep.