Jacqui Felgate: ‘My mind is always whirring with worry’
With adulting comes worrying, but there are ways to help us cope with life’s stresses, writes The House of Wellness co-host Jacqui Felgate.
I often think back to when I first met my husband.
I was in my early 20s and life was, for the most part, easy: no responsibilities, no real worries.
Sure, at that age, you’re trying to establish yourself in your career, money is tight, you’re trying to save to buy a house one day – but, really, life back then was fun!
No kids, no health issues, no ageing parents or the worries of the world on your shoulders.
It was, in a word, carefree.
Adulting is synonymous with worrying
Now that I’m in my 40s and my husband is nudging 50 (he’ll hate me for saying that!) life is, in many ways, heavy with worry.
He often says to me: “You worry about having nothing to worry about!”
And that is absolutely true. I am a deep, deep worrier – so much so that worry keeps me up at night.
I rarely sleep through the night because my mind is always whirring with worry.
I remember being in my early 20s and, really, I don’t think I even knew to worry.
I might’ve been concerned about the small things in my life, but they were really just little bumps in the road.
Fast forward 20 years, and you have real responsibilities and concerns.
This is the life stage where you learn the real meaning of the word “worry” – whether family, health or financial.
Why having a supportive partner matters
Back in our fun and carefree era, when we both had the glow of youth, people we would meet used to say to my husband, “Oh, you’re batting above your average”.
You know that ridiculous phrase that some people use? It’s meant to be a nice thing to say to a man about his partner.
But what I’ve learnt over 14 years of marriage is notions like that are truly archaic and irrelevant.
The older I get, the more I feel like I won the lottery with my partner.
When it comes to mental health, especially anxiety, having a supportive partner is what gives me the strength to overcome any challenges.
Relationships, especially long-term partnerships, may start off as a wonderful love affair, with great things such as travel, parties, career goals and milestone events, but when real life sets in, usually around middle age, those things become more spaced out.
It doesn’t mean you love your partner less; there’s just a whole lot more in the way.
Celebrating small wins helps to ease worries
We must celebrate the small wins. If our children are happy, then so are we.
I once heard a saying: “You’re only as happy as your unhappiest child.”
And that speaks to me. If my kids are going well, then the No.1 worry in my life is somewhat lessened.
So how do we celebrate the little things and not focus on the stresses in life?
How do we stay optimistic in tough times?
Mayo Clinic staff, in the US, have some helpful tips on how to live life with a glass half full, and one tip has really resonated with me.
They say to become more optimistic you need to “identify areas of your life that you usually think negatively about, whether it’s work, your daily commute, life changes or a relationship.
“You can start small by focusing on one area to approach in a more positive way.”
I love that: Find the thing that is really stressing you out, identify it, and then look for ways to deal with it.
Remember, a problem shared is a problem halved
Sometimes when we have multiple stresses, it almost becomes too much – a literal life pile-on.
With so many balls in the air, how do we catch them all?
For me, it’s been about putting my stresses and problems in separate boxes in my mind, and dealing with them one at a time.
And I come back to the importance of having a supportive partner or person in your life.
No one can carry the stress of a family all on their own.
And for me, I’m lucky enough to have found my own personal Don Bradman. Who’s batting now?
More on worrying and breaking the cycle:
- Why little stressors can be a big deal for mental health
- How to use unwanted thoughts to your advantage
- The mind-blowing benefits of positive thinking
- How to stop ruminating: 3 tips to break the cycle
Written by Jacqui Felgate.