What, us worry? Sadly, yes. According to the results of a recent NextTribe survey, stress is a constant for midlife women. Indeed, 45 percent of respondents claim to suffer more stress now than five years ago—yet 72 percent believed we’d have less by this stage of life. Read on to learn what really worries women like us, and why—and what we can do about.
Fretting About Finances
Money is our single most stressful issue. Some 37 percent of survey respondents cite financial concerns as number one. Work worries rate high as well. “How can I take work pressures more in stride?” wonders Miriam. “How can I not make myself sick by caring too much, while not compromising my integrity, attention to detail, and high standards of performance?”
45 percent of you have more stress now than five years ago—yet 72 percent believed we’d have less by this stage of life.
Many of us see retirement as a dream indefinitely deferred. As Lisa put it, she and her friends, “always thought 60 would be a magic turning point. Kids raised, ready to retire and travel more—or at least have more time off. None of this is going to happen!” And the “not enough hours in the day” issue is real. “How can I find the time to use the tools I should be using to manage stress?” asks Diana, admitting, “When I get home from work I’m a zombie!”
The “What’s Next?” Question
Wondering what to do with the rest of our life is a major anxiety trigger, with 36 percent of us citing stress over figuring out the next chapter. “How can I reach a state of contentment?” wonders Pandora. “There will always be ups and downs, but stability within is paramount to me now.”
Worries of the World
Some 35 percent of midlife women are stressed out by the state of the world now and the future our grandchildren will be inheriting. “I would be better able to navigate my life if the current climate in this country was not so ugly and anti-woman,” protests Pamela. “This occupant of White House continues to make me question my lifelong belief that people are good, kindness matters, and actions have consequences. My stress level is worse than it was five years ago because of political stressors.”
The Health-Stress Connection
The good news is that physical well-being isn’t the biggest cause of worry for many women, with under 18 percent citing their health as their main cause of stress. However, several survey respondents did express concern that stress may eventually negatively impact health.
The Game of Love
Midlife women feel fairly calm about our intimate relationships, with under 11 percent citing marriage problems or divorce as a primary worry. Of course, that may be a non-issue for some of us! “I feel I bypassed a whole heap of trouble by never getting married and just being a party of one,” says Angela. “I see what other women put up with and know I made the right decision.” For others, having a love life keeps tension at bay. “Sex has always served me well as a stress reliever,” confides Cynthia.
How We’re Handling the Stress
- Outside a good romp in the hay, midlife women are finding other positive outlets.
The majority of us (68 percent) say simply stepping outside alleviates stress. “I’ve found how much being in nature restores me and improves my outlook,” says Susana.
- Exercise exorcises demons, too, with 60 percent of us getting physical to beat tension. While yoga is particularly popular, Yolanda says, “I walk, walk, walk!”
- Spirituality—prayer, meditation, however we may personally define it—works wonders against worry.
- Communication is key. A hefty 55 percent of us note that talking about the stress we’re under with a friend or partner lessens the load, and 14 percent see a therapist. On the flip side, it can be helpful to deliberately avoid folks who drive us nuts. “I am very clear about how I invest my time and with whom,” says Lisa. “This has significantly lowered my stress.” Echoes Ream: “I explain to people who stress me out with their negativity how their behavior is affecting my peace, and if they don’t stop, I stop interacting with them.”
- Little things mean a lot. Remembering to count our blessings, turning away from social media and email, deep breathing, bathing with soothing essential oils before bed—these small strategies help banish the worry booger.
- Coming from a different angle, 35 percent of us partake of alcohol to tame tension, while 20 percent rely on anti-anxiety meds, and 12 percent smoke pot.
Hopefully, we can find balance—an anti-stress combo that helps us cope, a la Joanne: “I do a lot of Pilates and drink a lot of wine!”