How to accept that you’re getting older

This article was co-authored by Adam Dorsay, PsyD. Dr. Adam Dorsay is a licensed psychologist in private practice in San Jose, CA, and the co-creator of Project Reciprocity, an international program at Facebook’s Headquarters, and a consultant with Digital Ocean’s Safety Team. He specializes in assisting high-achieving adults with relationship issues, stress reduction, anxiety, and attaining more happiness in their lives. In 2016 he gave a well-watched TEDx talk about men and emotions. Dr. Dorsay has a M.A. in Counseling from Santa Clara University and received his doctorate in Clinical Psychology in 2008.

There are 18 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

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Getting older is an inevitable part of life. At some point, every person who lives long enough will have to come to terms with the fact that they aren’t a young person anymore. Being older has some real advantages, but there are also some aspects of aging that can be hard to accept. As we age our bodies, and for many of us our minds, don’t work as well as they used to. These changes don’t have to mean that life as you know it is over, however. There are many things you can do to make your later years more enjoyable, and in doing so, make it easier to accept that you are getting older.

D eath, in the view of many theorists, is a good thing, at least for a society that aspires to be creative. When you’re on the clock, you accomplish more. Cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker, author of The Denial of Death, called mortality “a mainspring of human activity.” If you want to invent a light bulb or paint a Mona Lisa, you’d best get started, because checkout time is coming.

That’s perfectly fine when you’re contemplating the human species as a whole, but our personal mortality is a different matter, right? Not always. A 2017 study in Psychological Science tallied the number of positive and negative words in blog posts written by the terminally ill and compared them with essays by people who were asked to imagine being near death and then write about it. The dying people, it turned out, were more positive.

People are able to come to terms with death as they age, thanks to what psychologists building on Becker’s work dubbed Terror Management Theory. Equal parts denial and self-soothing, courage and fatalism, TMT is what kept Cold War Americans going despite fear of nuclear annihilation, and got New Yorkers out to work on that Sept. 12 following the terrorist attack.

Some TMT techniques involve what psychologists call constructive distraction: busying ourselves with a lifetime of meaningful things. When faced with acute reminders of death–say, a funeral–we push back with something that prolongs life, like going for a run. We also become good at flippancy, making death benign or comical–think Halloween costumes.

We get better at this as we age. A 2000 meta-analysis found that fear of death grows in the first half of life, but by the time we hit the 61-to-87 age group, it recedes to a stable, manageable level.

Terror management happens not just individually but collectively, through our affiliation with social systems that define us, especially religion, nation and family. Religion is the most direct, because so many faiths sidestep fear of death by promising eternal life. But along with nation and family, religion provides something subtler too: a community that gives a kind of constitutional order to a cosmos that otherwise makes no sense.

“Death is typically on the fringes of our awareness,” says Thomas Pyszczynski, a professor of psychology at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. “When reminded of their mortality, people cling to their worldviews more and react more warmly to people and ideas that comfort them.”

A post-9/11 study in the journal Identity by psychologist Curtis Dunkel of Western Illinois University supports this idea. He found that people who have established an “identity commitment,” or an allegiance to a group or worldview, exhibit less anxiety when reminded of death than people still engaging in “identity exploration.”

The risk of such an allegiance is that it may make us less tolerant of other people. That may partly explain why we have religions that promise eternal life, but only for members of the faith.

Meanwhile, the ability to live in the moment is something that brings older people a sense of calm. “The elderly become more present-centered,” says Steve Taylor, a lecturer in psychology at Leeds Beckett University in Leeds, England, “and research shows that being present-centered leads to enhanced well-being.”

Most important is what developmental psychologist Erik Erikson dubbed generativity–the process not of achieving and keeping things, but giving them away. You can’t take the house you built or the songs you wrote with you, to say nothing of the family you created. They are all your body of work, your mortal oeuvre, and there can be joy in handing them on.

“The idea of one generation replacing the next becomes a buffer against anxiety,” says Pyszczynski. If there’s peace to be had at the approach of death, it comes from knowing that the world you’re exiting is at least a bit richer than the one you found when you arrived.

This appears in the February 26, 2018 issue of TIME.

How to accept that you're getting older

How to Accept Aging Without Feeling Old

I never minded getting a haircut until about ten years ago. Then something horrifying happened. My hairstylist finished cutting my hair, gave me a hand-held mirror, and proceeded to slowly turn the barber’s chair around so I can inspect her work. As the mirror reflected the rear of my head what I saw next made me nearly pass out. It was the early signs of a bald spot forming.

Over the past decade, my hair has been slowly and progressively thinning. I’ve tried all types of solutions: Rogaine, vitamins, natural products, and laser comb. Nothing has worked. I even considered the hair restoration process. (You can donate to my fund if you’re looking for a worthy cause to contribute to.)

Lately, I have come to terms with aging. I don’t like it. But I do accept it. It’s unavoidable. I decided that aging is not a big deal unless I make it one. So, whether you’re in your thirties, forties, fifties (like me) or older, you will eventually have to come to terms with aging. I’d like to share with you how to accept aging without feeling old.

Be realistic about your appearance

How to accept that you're getting olderAs you age your appearance will gradually change. Wrinkles and aging spots form. Your body starts to sag in all the wrong places. The texture, color, and density of your hair will likely change. This is normal.

There are some things you can do to limit the effects of aging on your appearance. Hair color to cover the gray. Creams and ointments to treat wrinkles. Some choose cosmetic surgery as a more aggressive form to achieve a youthful appearance.

These tactics may buy you some time, but they cannot hide the inevitable, you are looking older. Is that bad? Is it unacceptable? Or, is it simply a phase of life? Growing up you watched others do it. Now it’s your turn.

For me, I found that once I accepted some of the physical realities of aging it does not bother me as much. Rather than cringe when I look in the mirror and see the evidence of aging, I choose to smile and give myself some credit for not looking too bad!

Act as young as you feel on the inside

The mirror reminds me of my age. It reflects my external appearance. Internally, I feel like a guy in his mid-thirties. So, daily I give a nod to the guy in the mirror, but go about my day as a younger feeling self. Boy, am I having fun! I play basketball, jog, golf (no laughter from the peanut gallery), and have a high-voltage social life. Still enjoy the thrill rides at Great America, now riding side saddle with my grandson Cameron.

In terms of career, I’m currently writing my second book, while managing a growing a counseling practice. In October, I am gathering about 20 of my grade school/high school friends together for a weekend get-together at Starved Rock State Park.

Why am I doing all this stuff? Because I choose to act how I feel on the inside.

Take your health seriously

As we age, health risks increase. To limit potential health problems I recommend you develop a health plan. I was a typical male when it came to health management until I reached my forties. Now I have routine health examinations, eat smarter, and exercise regularly. Recently, my new internist recommended jogging so I am. I jog on a really cool, state-of-the-art track at our local high school.

We can make aging a big deal if we don’t take our health seriously. Do not ignore the warning signs. I lost a close family member a year ago to a fatal heart attack because he did not act soon enough.

Do you schedule regular doctor visits? Exercise plan? Reasonable diet? If not, I suggest you take your health seriously and act now.

Find meaning for your life now

Aging is existential. It begs questions. “What is the meaning of my life now?” “Who am I?” “How do I find purpose?”

Some individuals think about aging as retirement, what they will do when they don’t have to work anymore. They plan for retirement. (By the way, I recommend you do this.) Some dream of retirement near the ocean. Others simply worry that they will have enough to live on when the time comes.

Aging is not about endings. It is about new beginnings. As you think about growing older, what do you want to start doing? Leisure activities are wonderful if you have the means to do it. However, there is nothing quite as energizing as having a purpose in life and doing something about it.

I have friends who do volunteer work, mentoring, or missions work to care for the poor around the world. As I write, a client/doctor is preparing to embark on a medical missions trip to South Africa. He’s stoked!

If you are older you are likely wiser. You are a valuable resource to young people today who crave leadership. In my counseling and executive coaching practice I function more as a sage giving pearls of wisdom to couples who want healthy relationships. I enjoy this role. It is deeply rewarding.

Renew your inner self

Here’s a quote from one of my favorite spiritual authors: “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”

I love that quote. For me, it captures the dual process of aging externally, while feeling renewed in spirit internally. I’m looking older but feeling younger.

How do you renew your inner self?

For me, I journal regularly to process what I am feeling on the inside. It also provides a record of my journey that I can re-read and note the progress I am making. I also engage in my spirituality on a daily basis. This includes reading scripture, meditation and prayer.

Renewing your inner self is vital to the aging process. If you don’t, you are likely to feel old and act that way too!

So I say this, when it comes to aging. Accept it. Embrace it. Engage in it. Enjoy it! By all means do not feel old about it!

Some great and funny aging quotes

How to accept that you're getting older

“Age is of no importance unless you are a cheese.”

“The secret of staying young is picking an age you like and sticking with it.” Snoopy, Peanuts character.

“I am not interested in looking younger. I want to look healthy and radiant. I want to look like me.” Cindy Joseph

Now it’s your turn

How do you age without feeling older? Share some ideas or ways of thinking that work for you. Add your comments below.

Introduction

Misconceptions about aging are easy to come by. You may have even met an older person who fits a common stereotype. But here’s a reality check: Age doesn’t define who a person is.

Scott Lilienfeld, a professor of psychology at Emory University in Atlanta, who co-authored “50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology” (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), blames age-related myths on a combination of memory and media.

“We like to remember things that are readily accessible in our memories,” Lilienfeld said. “Cases of elderly who are grumpy, depressed, irritable, angry and the like are memorable because they have an impact on us emotionally. Cases of the elderly who are doing just find don’t have much of an impact on us, so they don’t stand out in our memories.” Also, he added, “Media coverage and popular movies reinforce these negative stereotypes.”

Read on to find why getting older doesn’t mean becoming a stereotype.

When children grow up and leave home, their parents develop “empty nest syndrome”

Once the kids have moved out of the house, the myth goes, husbands and wives feel disconnected and even depressed and may drift apart or divorce. Typically, that isn’t the case. ” In general, once the children leave home, there’s evidence there’s an upswing in marital satisfaction,” said Joan Erber, a professor emeritus of psychology at Florida International University in Miami, who is working on a book examining misconceptions about old age.

“There may be some people who have gotten out of touch with a mate and once the kids leave home it may be tough to reconnect,” Erber said. But it’s just as likely that such couples had difficulties when the children were living at home and waited for them to leave before formally divorcing.

As they enter midlife, many people go into crisis mode, making drastic changes

Midlife, the myth goes, is a time when men find a young girlfriend, buy a hairpiece or splurge on a fancy red sports car. The latter myth, Erber said, is the most common stereotype she encounters in discussions with her psychology students.

But there’s not much evidence that middle age triggers these changes. Any levels of dissatisfaction middle-aged people experience likely won’t reach crisis levels. And even if people do experience a crisis, it may be a mistake to assume age alone is the trigger.

“If you have a crisis during midlife, you probably had one when you were younger, and you’ll probably continue to have them,” Erber said.

“Some people are crisis prone, and some people aren’t.”

Curiously, some life-altering events associated with the midlife crisis don’t actually happen in midlife. In their book, Lilienfeld and his colleagues noted that the age at which a first divorce occurs for men as well as women tends to be in the early 30s, well before middle age.

As for the sports car, they noted, “when people purchase their fantasy sports car in their 40s, it may have nothing to do with making the best of a crisis. Rather, they may finally be able to make the payments on the car for which they longed as teenagers.”

It’s normal to become depressed as you age

While younger people may worry about growing old, getting there doesn’t seem to be a drain on people’s happiness. Public opinion surveys on happiness consistently show that older Americans are the happiest demographic group.

Lilienfeld said one reason the myth of depressed older people may have taken hold is that “although depression typically isn’t more pronounced among the elderly, suicide is.” Indeed, he added, suicide attempts in the elderly tend to be more lethal than in younger people. Because of this, “we may conclude erroneously that there’s also a link between old age and depression.”

At least two potential problems can arise from the stereotype.

“First, friends and loved ones might incorrectly assume that extreme sadness in a man in midlife or in an elderly person is ‘normal’ and therefore ignore it,” Lilienfeld said. “But such depression isn’t normal, nor is it typical, and it may be a serious mistake to neglect it.

“Second, expectations may at times create reality. If an elderly person begins to feel depressed, he or she may assume that this is to be expected, and may not make concerted efforts to combat it.”

As you get older, you fear death more

Aging may bring people closer to death, but it also brings them closer to accepting it as a reality. “Older people, it seems, have less fear of death than middle-aged people,” Erber said. “They are more socialized to the fact life doesn’t last forever. That’s a reason they may enjoy life more.”

Meanwhile, middle-aged people have dependents, whether it be their children or older relatives, whom they need to support. Concerns about what would happen if they were to die likely fuel their fear of death, Erber said.

Most old people are unable to do everyday tasks

How much of a myth this is may hinge upon how you define everyday tasks and old age.

“Older adulthood is a huge chronological age range,” she said. ” People known as the young old, ages 65 to 74, don’t differ that much from those who are middle-aged.”

Furthermore, she said, while disease and dementia may limit what someone is able to do, old age itself does not. “Most people, as long as they’re living in the right setting, can do everyday things,” she said. “If you are positioned to get things delivered or are still within walking distance or are still driving, I don’t think it’s really a problem.”

One major change that age can bring: Fewer responsibilities. For example, you may generally cook just for yourself or yourself and a spouse, rather than a large group. While people over 85 may have more difficulties and need more help, remaining independent is largely a matter of accommodation, Erber said, which may include moving to a more urban area and getting some help.

“As people move into those really late age ranges, and are going to be living on their own, they might need more support services,” Erber said.

The likelihood of being totally dependent on others is slim. “That probably won’t happen unless there’s some kind of physical or cognitive problem, ” Erber said.

Follow MyHealthNewsDaily on Twitter @MyHealth_MHND. We’re also on Facebook & Google+.

A late-in-life layoff could spell trouble. Here’s how to cope.

Though many seniors rush to retire in their early 60s, an estimated 25% of Americans say they’re aiming to work until age 70 or later. But just because you’re planning to work until a certain age doesn’t mean you’ll get that option — especially if you wind up getting laid off later in life.

According to a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, unemployed workers 55 and over are considerably less likely than their younger counterparts to find new jobs. In fact, data shows that it takes more than 40 weeks for older workers to become re-employed.

How to accept that you're getting older

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

There are several explanations for this trend, none of which are particularly surprising. Some companies are hesitant to hire older workers for fear that they’ll retire shortly thereafter. Others would rather onboard younger talent with more up-to-date skills. Unfortunately, that leaves laid-off older workers in an obviously tricky situation.

If you lose your job later in life, it’s natural to panic or worry about how it’ll affect your retirement. Here’s how to handle the situation while keeping your sanity intact.

1. File for unemployment insurance

No matter your age, as soon as you lose your job, your first move should be to file for unemployment insurance. Unemployment will pay you a portion of your earnings provided you didn’t leave your job willingly and weren’t terminated for cause. Though your weekly benefits won’t seem like much if you were a higher earner, it pays to get your hands on whatever money you’re entitled to. Keep in mind, however, that there may be a lag between when you first file for unemployment insurance and actually start receiving benefits.

2. Assess your savings

Once you file for unemployment insurance, your next move should be to examine your savings and see how much flexibility they’ll buy you. The one benefit, so to speak, of being laid off in your 60s is that you’ll be eligible to take penalty-free withdrawals from your IRA or 401(k), so if you need to use that money to pay the bills in the near term, you can dip in without worry.

3. Consider filing for Social Security (but only if you have to)

If you’re 62 or older when you lose your job, here’s another small bit of good news: You can file for Social Security and start collecting your monthly benefits. There’s just one catch — if you start taking benefits before reaching your full retirement age, which, for today’s older workers, is 66, 67, or somewhere in between, you’ll face a reduction in payments that will remain in effect for the rest of your life.

Now if you don’t have much in the way of emergency or retirement savings, and you need those Social Security payments to cover your bills, you’re better off taking a hit on your benefits and avoiding a potentially dangerous cycle of credit card debt. But if you have enough savings to sustain yourself without claiming those benefits, you’re better off waiting until your full retirement age.

Also, keep in mind that you are allowed to collect Social Security and unemployment simultaneously. That said, depending on where you live, your unemployment benefits might be reduced if you have money coming in from outside sources, including Social Security, so it pays to do some research before making a move.

4. Get health coverage

Losing your job often means losing your health insurance. If this happens to you, and you’re already 65, you can enroll in Medicare and get health benefits that way. If you’re not yet 65, you’ll need to either pay for COBRA and retain your old health plan, or buy a new plan on the open market.

No matter which option you choose, don’t make the mistake of going without health insurance later in life. The last thing you want is a catastrophic medical bill when you’re already in a precarious financial situation.

5. Figure out whether you want another job

Maybe you planned on working until your late 60s or 70s because you were comfortable in your role and content with your salary. But if you’re in a comfortable enough financial position and have a nice amount of savings, you may not want to get another job to replace the one you lost. Rather, you might use your layoff as an opportunity to kick-start an early retirement.

Now not everybody will have this option. If you’re behind on savings and can’t afford not to work those few extra years, you’ll need to come up with a plan for bringing in the income you expected your old job to provide. But just remember that there are different ways to earn a living, so if you’re not having much luck finding another position, you might use this as a chance to start your own business (whether you need the money or simply want something to do with your time). The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that seniors 65 and older are more likely to be self-employed than any other age group, so if you’re banging your head against a wall trying to become reemployed, you may want to consider venturing out on your own.

Getting laid off at any age is never fun, but it can be particularly unsettling later in life. Knowing what to do if it happens will help you make the best of an otherwise rotten situation.

How to accept that you're getting older

Related

  • Can a 40-Year-Old Go into the Army?
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  • How Much Do Captains in the Navy Get Paid?
  • The Difference Between Voluntary & Involuntary Separation From the Army

U.S. Representative Paul Broun, Jr., is a doctor in the Navy Reserves. He’s also 66 years old. In 2012 he tried to convince the overnment to accept military applicants no matter their age, as long as they could meet the minimum health and fitness requirements. The House said no. Every branch of the military has age limits, from the Coast Guard to the National Guard, and most of them come to a halt before age 35. However, there are ways to enter the military when you’re 35 or older. Speak to a recruiter of the branch you’re interested in for the most up-to-date guidelines and hidden loopholes, as rules change all the time.

Not All Branches Are the Same

When it comes to basic requirements, not all branches of the military are the same. The Air Force typically closes the door to recruits at age 39 The Marines close it at 28, and both the Army and Navy limit the maximum age to 34. The Coast Guard has both doors open to applicants as old as 39, according to Military.com. All the Coast Guard asks is that you score at least 45 on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test, have no more than two dependents and be willing to serve on or around the water.

Got Experience?

The military offers an advantage to people who have been in the military before and are interested in reenlisting. As a matter of fact, you can subtract every year of service you’ve already put in from your current age, according to Veterans United. That means if you’re 35 and you’ve already put seven years in, you’re 28 years old as far as the military is concerned. That opens the doors to many more opportunities, including positions with the Army, Navy and Marines.

“>Education Counts

The military needs people with education and experience to fill commissioned officer positions. That’s not possible when recruiting high school students. The Coast Guard is on the lookout for nurse practitioners, dentists, physicians, physician’s assistants and pharmacists to fill positions in the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. Candidates must be 43 or younger, though there are some exceptions made based on prior civil or active duty service.

Times Always Change

As of 2018, the Army is only looking for recruits between the ages of 17 and 34. Yet, the age was once raised to 42 until 2012, when it dropped back down to 35, according to MilitarySpot.com. Age standards fluctuate as military demand changes. When recruiting numbers drop, the military may raise its maximum age to entice more people to its ranks. When the economy takes a down turn and people flock to the military in search of employment, the military then lowers its maximum age to prevent flooding.

  • Military.com: Are You Eligible to Join the Military?
  • Veterans United: Military Age Restrictions: How Old is Too Old to Serve?
  • United States Coast Guard: Officer Opportunities
  • U.S. Air Force: Meet Requirements
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Applying to the Commissioned Corps

Brooke Julia has been a writer since 2009. Her work has been featured in regional magazines, including “She” and “Hagerstown Magazine,” as well as national magazines, including “Pregnancy & Newborn” and “Fit Pregnancy.”

How to accept that you're getting older

Related

  • Can a 40-Year-Old Go into the Army?
  • Can You Join the Military With a Low Arch?
  • Can I Get Into the Army With a Drug Distribution Felony?
  • How Much Do Captains in the Navy Get Paid?
  • The Difference Between Voluntary & Involuntary Separation From the Army

U.S. Representative Paul Broun, Jr., is a doctor in the Navy Reserves. He’s also 66 years old. In 2012 he tried to convince the overnment to accept military applicants no matter their age, as long as they could meet the minimum health and fitness requirements. The House said no. Every branch of the military has age limits, from the Coast Guard to the National Guard, and most of them come to a halt before age 35. However, there are ways to enter the military when you’re 35 or older. Speak to a recruiter of the branch you’re interested in for the most up-to-date guidelines and hidden loopholes, as rules change all the time.

Not All Branches Are the Same

When it comes to basic requirements, not all branches of the military are the same. The Air Force typically closes the door to recruits at age 39 The Marines close it at 28, and both the Army and Navy limit the maximum age to 34. The Coast Guard has both doors open to applicants as old as 39, according to Military.com. All the Coast Guard asks is that you score at least 45 on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test, have no more than two dependents and be willing to serve on or around the water.

Got Experience?

The military offers an advantage to people who have been in the military before and are interested in reenlisting. As a matter of fact, you can subtract every year of service you’ve already put in from your current age, according to Veterans United. That means if you’re 35 and you’ve already put seven years in, you’re 28 years old as far as the military is concerned. That opens the doors to many more opportunities, including positions with the Army, Navy and Marines.

“>Education Counts

The military needs people with education and experience to fill commissioned officer positions. That’s not possible when recruiting high school students. The Coast Guard is on the lookout for nurse practitioners, dentists, physicians, physician’s assistants and pharmacists to fill positions in the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. Candidates must be 43 or younger, though there are some exceptions made based on prior civil or active duty service.

Times Always Change

As of 2018, the Army is only looking for recruits between the ages of 17 and 34. Yet, the age was once raised to 42 until 2012, when it dropped back down to 35, according to MilitarySpot.com. Age standards fluctuate as military demand changes. When recruiting numbers drop, the military may raise its maximum age to entice more people to its ranks. When the economy takes a down turn and people flock to the military in search of employment, the military then lowers its maximum age to prevent flooding.

  • Military.com: Are You Eligible to Join the Military?
  • Veterans United: Military Age Restrictions: How Old is Too Old to Serve?
  • United States Coast Guard: Officer Opportunities
  • U.S. Air Force: Meet Requirements
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Applying to the Commissioned Corps

Brooke Julia has been a writer since 2009. Her work has been featured in regional magazines, including “She” and “Hagerstown Magazine,” as well as national magazines, including “Pregnancy & Newborn” and “Fit Pregnancy.”

How to accept that you're getting older

How to accept that you're getting older

1. Recognize when you are being a jealous weirdo. A lot of the time when you feel jealous, you’ll start little arguments or say passive-aggressive things rather than talking about what’s actually bothering you. (For me, it’s responding to everything he says with, “Yeah, you would do that.” I don’t know why.) If you can acknowledge, “Oh, I’m really jealous right now because you were talking to a girl at the bar last night and it made me feel weird,” that’s an important first step.

2. Try to look at your relationship from the perspective of one of your friends. If you were your friend and you heard about your situation, how would you react to it? Would you be freaked out by it, or would you think it sounded totally normal and probably fine? Putting some distance between you and your relationship always helps you to see it more clearly and will potentially stop you from having a panic attack inside an H&M for no reason.

3. Focus on how great your relationship actually is. So you saw what looked like your boyfriend flirting with one of his female friends. OK. But keep in mind, you guys have an entire history between you two and a pretty unmatched closeness. Everyone flirts, sometimes without even really being conscious of it. It doesn’t always mean they want to act on it. I think I flirted with the guy at my deli the other day and I could not tell you why. I think I was just tired and out of it. I really need to get more sleep, you guys.

4. Just because you’re jealous doesn’t mean anything is actually going to happen. I can’t even count how many times I’ve been so afraid of something that might happen that it already seemed like it had happened and I was already mourning the loss. And most of those times, that thing I was so scared of never even came close to happening. So just because you have a hunch your boyfriend might be into someone else, that doesn’t mean they’re already sleeping together and he’s already bought her a ring and will be proposing this weekend and dumping you immediately after inside a Taco Bell. If you have no proof of this, don’t sweat it until you do. And if you’re really worried about it, talk to him about it directly. He’ll either put you at ease or be kind of weird about it, but either way, you can stop wondering and move on.

5. Figure out if there’s any underlying reason why you’re jealous. Sometimes, when we’re having feeling of jealousy toward our partner, it’s actually just because we’re pissed at them for something else entirely. Maybe they forgot your birthday or they haven’t been that supportive of you lately, and instead of just talking to them about it, it’s easier to suddenly become suspicious of everything they’re doing. Granted, that might not be totally conscious, but it happens.

6. Accept that you’re jealous and don’t immediately react to it. Just because you have a feeling doesn’t mean you have to act on it. If you’re feeling angry, it doesn’t mean you need to throw stuff or yell at the nearest person in your coffee shop. You can just realize, “Oh, I’m feeling angry right now,” and see if it passes. Same goes for jealousy.

7. Let go of any old relationship garbage that has nothing to do with your guy. Maybe you’re worried about him cheating because your ex-boyfriend cheated on you or your dad cheated on your mom, but that situation isn’t the same one you’re in now (hopefully). Your current partner has no ties to anything that came before, so putting them in the same league as people who hurt you or the people you loved in the past isn’t fair to either of you. There’s a reason why your old relationships didn’t last and this one did.

8. Believe with all your cute little heart that you deserve to have someone love you. A lot of the time when we’re jealous, it’s because some part of us believes that we’re unlovable and that our partner could do better, so obviously they would and will. But it just isn’t true. You, right now, with all your flaws and shortcomings and struggles, are super, crazy lovable and worthy of having a committed partner, which is why you currently have one! Don’t let some pointless belief that you’re not as good as the hot girl he talked to at lunch mess with your head. ‘Cause honestly, she might be gay anyway. You never know.

Follow Lane on Twitter and Instagram.

Tip: Change What You Can, Accept the Rest

Divorce, layoffs, threat of terrorism — there’s plenty of anxiety around for everyone these days. And very often, the source is something we can’t change. How do you know when it’s time to get help dealing with your anxieties?

To better understand the underpinnings of anxiety — and how to better cope — WebMD turned to two anxiety experts: Jerilyn Ross, MA, LICSW, director of The Ross Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders, Inc., and Linda Andrews, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

Normal vs. Harmful Anxiety

The cold sweat of anxiety is that “fight or flight” response that kept our early relatives safe from grizzly bears and other scary characters, says Andrews. “That adrenaline rush still serves us well under certain circumstances. Anxiety is a natural reaction to those very real stresses.”

In today’s world, “that reaction helps motivate us, prepares us for things we have to face, and sometimes give us energy to take action when we need to,” adds Ross.

Big job interview is coming up, and it’s got you in knots. So “you spend a little more time getting dressed or rehearsing what you’re going to say,” Ross says. “You’ve got an appointment with the divorce lawyer, so you do more homework. That kind of anxiety can motivate you to do better. It helps you protect yourself.”

But as we know too well, sometimes it doesn’t take a specific threat — only the possibility of crisis — to send humans into anxiety mode. “The difficulty comes in learning to tone down that automatic response — to think, ‘How serious is the danger? How likely is the threat?’ “says Andrews.

“The thing about anxiety is, it can take on a life of its own,” she adds. “Everything becomes a potential crisis. The unthinkable has happened. So around every corner, there’s the next possible disaster.”

The Anxiety Toll

When anxiety is taking a toll, your body knows it. You have trouble sleeping, eating, and concentrating. You get headaches; your stomach is upset. You might even have a panic attack — the pounding heart, a feeling of lightheadedness.

Anxiety may also feel like depression. “The two sometimes overlap,” Ross says.

When anxiety becomes so overwhelming that it interferes with day-to-day activities — when it keeps you from going places, from doing things you need to do — that’s when you need help, says Ross.

Generalized anxiety disorder is a bigger syndrome — “like a worry machine in your head,” Ross says. “If it’s not one thing, it’s another. You’re procrastinating to the point that you’re almost afraid to take a step. You’re so nervous about going to your child’s school to talk to the teacher, you just don’t go — you miss the appointment.”

In the case of such overwhelming anxiety, “people are not making good decisions,” says Ross. “They’re avoiding things, or they’re unable to rise to the occasion because the anxiety is too much. They’re procrastinating because they can’t concentrate, can’t stay focused. It’s really interfering with their day-to-day life. At that point, they may have a more serious anxiety problem and need professional help.”

How Do You Cope?

To cope with plain-vanilla anxiety, “get real,” as they say. “Separate out the real risks and dangers that a situation presents and those your imagination is making worse,” advises Ross. It’s a twist on the old adage: “Take control of the things you can, and accept those you can’t change.”

“Ask yourself: Where can you take control of a situation? Where can you make changes? Then do what needs to be done,” she says. “What things do you simply have to accept? That’s very important.”

Very often, it’s possible to get past an anxiety cycle with the help of friends or family — someone who can help you sort out your problems. But when anxiety becomes overwhelming, it’s time for a therapist, or perhaps medication.

Here are two strategies that therapists use to help us conquer anxiety:

Challenge negative thoughts.

Ask yourself: Is this a productive thought? Is it helping me get closer to my goal? If it’s just a negative thought you’re rehashing, then you must be able to say to that thought: ‘Stop.’ “That’s difficult to do, but it’s very important,” Ross says.

Rather than becoming paralyzed with anxiety, here’s another message you can send yourself: “I may have to take a job I don’t like as much, may have to travel further than I want, but I’ll do what I have to do now. At least I will have the security of income in the short term. Then I can look for something better later.”

The most important thing: “to realize when you’ve done everything you can, that you need to move forward,” Ross says.

Learn to relax.

You may even need “breathing retraining,” Ross adds. “When people get anxious, they tend to hold their breath. We teach people a special diaphragmatic breathing — it calms your system. Do yoga, meditation, or get some exercise. Exercise is a terrific outlet for anxiety.”

Most of all, try not to compound your problems, adds Andrews. “When things are bad, there is a legitimate reason to feel bad,” she says. “But if you don’t deal with it, you’re going to lose more than just a job — you’ll lose relationships, your self confidence, you could even lose technical abilities if you stay dormant in your profession. Try not to compound one stress by adding another.”

Often your ability to work through anxiety — get past it — varies depending on the type of crisis you faced. “The more severe, the more surprising it was, the longer it’s going to take to get over it,” says Andrews. “You may be on autopilot for several weeks. If you’re depressed, that can complicate things. In the case of divorce, it may take months to years to really get back to yourself.”

But take heart. “If you’re doing well in one aspect of your life — in your work or your relationships — you’re probably on your way,” she says. “Fear and anxiety are no longer running your life.”

Medication for Anxiety Disorders

Medication will not cure an anxiety disorder, but it will help keep it under control. If anxiety becomes severe enough to require medication, there are a few options.

Antidepressants, particularly the SSRIs, may be effective in treating many types of anxiety disorders.

Other treatment includes benzodiazepines, such as Valium, Ativan, and Xanax alone or in combination with SSRI medication. These drugs do carry a risk of addiction so they are not as desirable for long-term use. Other possible side effects include drowsiness, poor concentration, and irritability.

Beta-blockers can prevent the physical symptoms that accompany certain anxiety disorders, particularly social phobia.