What does it mean to be a woman who is in her 50’s? I had the honor of reaching 50 this year and it has been a mixed bag. I am well aware that I am privileged to still be living, to see my children growing, to be in a loving marriage for the past 16 years and to appreciate what my body can still do for me. However, there are changes and some not so welcome! Waking up at 2 a.m., 3 a.m. or the lovely 5:30 a.m. when I don’t need to wake until 6:30 a.m.! In our 50’s we are no longer in our youth, our skin has changed, our metabolism has changed and our brains have changed! I recently have had the pleasure to speak with other women in their 50’s and there is a sadness about how they have changed. They have gained weight (of course the pandemic and shelter-in-place hasn’t helped) and they are so tired. They have lost some motivation to exercise and their sex drive, well forget about it!!
What’s happening to us? They ask and I wonder why there has been no template for us? Certainly, there is a rebel cry for women in each decade that they encounter but for me 50 has been a big pivot point for me. I still choose to try to take care of myself. I exercise and I try to eat clean and limit sugar and wheat. But still, what changes we used to make now have a more limited effect. Trying to lose weight now it seems, takes twice as long as in my 30’ or even 40’s.
I think we must first acknowledge what has changed. Our bodies have changed, our sex drive has changed, our boundaries have changed and what we tolerate has changed. There may be some grieving involved and we need to honor that. After that I say we must ask ourselves, “Now What?”. Where does our story go now? I am not what I was before, but in many ways I’m better, I’m different and I’m not done yet! I recently updated my resume. And the lovely man who helped me update it told me that he’s seen more discrimination or resistance towards women in their 40’s and 50’s being able to obtain jobs now than in the 1970’s. Holy cow! Do I just crawl in my shell and say “Well, I guess I can’t progress”? NOOOO! I am not alone. My voice counts and life experience and wisdom do mean something. I have two young daughters and I want them to know when they reach their 50’s they are not done. In fact, they are just beginning to know who they really are and where they want to go. I don’t want to miss this!
Last week I was leaving the grocery store, with my cart packed and I was crossing the street to my car and a gentleman started honking at me. I just assumed he was angry with me for walking in front of his car and I ignored him. He began honking even more and started shouting at me. “The nerve of this guy!” I thought to myself. What has this world come to? Everybody is angry and on edge and the slightest mistake leads to rage! I was very irritated but then finally he stuck his head out of his car and shouted “Your toilet paper fell out of your cart!” OMG! I was embarrassed and grateful and tried my best to quickly apologize for assuming he was just a jerk! As I pushed my cart to my car, I thought why did I just assume he was an angry driver, without compassion and only out for himself and somehow, I got in his way? Well, we all need a shot of compassion right now, even if we think we know or assume someone is “against” us.
This little incident was a small wake-up call for me to not get wrapped up in the hate and division that is occurring in our Country right now. People can still be good people, even if we disagree with them. My husband and I have talked about how it’s difficult to reconcile with others who may think differently than we do but when has one single view been the determinant of a person’s character? Yes, there have been many injustices in our country and those have to be addressed and rectified. But I’m not going to disown some family or friends who have different points of view. People are more complicated than that and we need to take the time to listen to each other. By all means advocate for justice and what you believe in, but don’t assume because someone thinks differently than you do, that it has to be the end of your relationship. Maybe you can’t agree on some things and you disconnect from that person but don’t generalize and assume everyone who shares a different view than you is a lost soul.
How do we talk to children about getting along with other children and not teasing those who are different than them? We talk with them about cooperation and compromise and empathy. Yet, this is so difficult for adults to do. It’s painful to see what’s happening in our country right now and how people treat each other and worse yet, the ASSUMPTIONS they are making about each other. Take it from me, those assumptions may be wrong and the guy vigorously honking at you as you cross the street may just be trying to help you.
How are you dealing with the affects of the Coronavirus? If you’re overwhelmed and uncertain, here are some helpful tips!
Unfortunately, many know someone who has the coronavirus or they themselves may have it. Whether you are directly impacted by the virus you may be struggling with shelter-in-place and on-going social distancing. Below are just a few of the things you may be experiencing:
Grief and Loss: Life is no longer like it was before and won’t be the same again. Although we can anticipate that we will edge back into life we are grieving what we had and the freedom to engage in life in a carefree way with others and our activities. Our sense of security in our and our loved one’s health has changed and we feel more vulnerable.
Boredom and a loss of sense of purpose. Many are working from home now and even homeschooling their children, but our previous jobs outside the home, activities and outside associations have stopped and you may feel a loss of purpose and in a way, a loss of your identity.
A roller-coaster of emotions: On any given day or hour, you may feel grateful and then shortly thereafter be angry this is happening and then in an hour feel a sense of calm. The bottom line is we are often cycling through a range of emotions as we try to deal with all of the changes. In fact, we can hold more than one emotion at the same time…we may feel uncertain and scared but also grateful and playful.
Fear of the unknown: Many of us may have struggled with fear of the unknown before COVID-19 hit but now, uncertainty about if and when the virus will be fully contained and when a vaccine will be developed, can lead the steadiest of us to worry.
No doubt, there are many other common reactions to the Coronavirus and COVID-19 and you need to know they are normal reactions and you are not alone navigating through all of these thoughts, worries and feelings. So, what can help us manage all of this?
Set and stick to a daily routine. Going to bed and getting up at the same time is very helpful not only to regulate our sleep but to also give us a sense of structure and control in our lives, especially when we may feel out of control.
Exercise, exercise and exercise! I can’t say enough about the benefits of exercise for our mental health and we know that those who exercise regularly experience less depression. Even better if you can exercise outside to get that sunshine in!
Practice Gratitude: Gratitude is an important component of emotional well-being and those who endorse it find greater resilience in bouncing back from life challenges. Practicing gratitude doesn’t mean we don’t identify and express any difficult emotions we have; it just means that part of our emotional expression includes not only what we’re struggling with but also what we are grateful for.
Let go of Perfection. Some people are using this time to get projects done, to finally start that food plan, or organize their homes. However, those who do that don’t get some reward or trophy when they are done. Yes, they may feel proud and accomplished and they deserve to. However, we will not be able to live through a quarantine perfectly, just as we were never able to live our lives in a perfect fashion before the Coronavirus. By all means, set intentions and goals but if you’re not able to meet them perfectly, it’s ok and actually a sign that you are human! Goals that are realistic and adjustable are most effective.
Lastly, practice mindfulness throughout the day. I know this is such a common term but due to the nature of anxiety (focusing on the what if’s…) mindfulness is an important tool to get us through the day with less anxiety. Pause in moments throughout the day, repeat to yourself “Be here, now”, take a long, slow walk, or practice meditation. By staying in the present moment, without judgment we are better able to manage the uncertainty of this pandemic.
If you’re struggling with Coronavirus related anxiety or anxiety in general, give me a call at 916-517-6989 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. www.terrisearstherapy.com
This is a very challenging time and how we respond to it and to ourselves can make the difference in our well-being.
The power of using the breath to pump up or to calm down or focus should not be minimized! Check out my short presentation below on how you can learn to harness your breath to relax and center yourself before, during or after your big game or performance!
Are you an athlete (at any level) who experiences fatigue, distraction or even boredom before or during practice or competition? If so, I have some mental training tools that can help! The activating power of words and imagery has been shown to have a very positive effect on performance so check out my 5 minute video to see how to get started!
Contact me if you want to learn more and receive an Energizing handout to track your progress!
Sports, playing sports, watching sports, loving sports were all a part of my upbringing from as young as I can remember. When I realized I was good at basketball in 5th grade I felt exhilarated, like I was flying, full of passion and joy. Competition agreed with me! I have never stopped loving sports, watching or playing them. I went to countless basketball camps in and out of my home state of South Dakota and then went on to play for two years at North Idaho College in Couer d’ Alene, ID. I had numerous sports related challenges along the way and as a result not only did I take the South Dakota High School Athletic Association to Court while in high school and won but I shortened my college career by quitting the team after only two years due to a demeaning, punishing, harsh coach. I often say that quitting college basketball (the plan was to transfer to a Division 1 school) is my main regret in life.
Looking back on all of this many years later, I realize that yes, I did have some pretty challenging coaches and not only was I courageous as a young teen headed to Court and in confronting my college coach, I was also operating under the idea that I had to be the best basketball player on the court. I was incredibly motivated to say the least, but what I missed was resiliency, confidence in myself whether I played a good game or not, and an identity outside of being an athlete. I needed an identity as a successful athlete but more importantly as a grounded, balanced, happy human being. I do firmly believe that if I had those traits I would have been able to continue in college basketball, and even Division 1 basketball.
I suffered emotionally as an athlete and wish I could have had a sports psychologist to have helped guide and educate me along the way. How amazing it would have been to have a sports psychology advocate for me, my fellow team mates and our coach and parents! I believe in pursuing athletic excellence but it must be combined with emotional wellness and an emotionally healthy attitude towards sports pursuit and performance. I’d love to have the opportunity to help present-day athletes play well, love to play, recover from injury and pursue their passion with no regrets.
I also offer a unique blend of skill with my current role as a psychotherapist in private practice in Roseville, CA. I obtained my bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Montana in 1993 and later my Master’s in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 2000. I have been licensed since 2006 and have had my own psychotherapy practice for almost 11 years. I love it and have been able to help many people address emotional and relational obstacles. But I feel something is missing. I want to help more, I want to combine my passion for sports, psychology and psychotherapy to offer services to adolescent and adult athletes.
I’d love to give athletes the emotional and psychological support that I didn’t get. If you or someone you know could benefit from mental skills guidance in the arena of sports, I’d love to hear from you!