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Good Therapy San Francisco | Anxiety Therapy Specialists

Worries about Birthdays and Getting Older


Therapy for Worry and Anxiety

The following is a question we received about birthdays and getting older. This is a common conversation at Good Therapy SF, as many people dread “turning older” and what it means to them. This topic has the ability to cause many to worry and experience unnecessary anxiety. As these questions come in from time to time, we’ll post (with permission!) the ones that seem most relevant to a general audience.

Dear Good Therapy SF,

I’ve always found celebrating birthdays to be bittersweet. On one hand, it’s a fun way to bring friends together. I love being surrounded by friends and having an excuse to let loose. On the other hand, I’ve been on and off single and for the past few birthdays and now I get overwhelmed and worry about being another year closer to a new age box. How can I stop being so anxious about getting older and just enjoy the moment? 

Finding Balance

First, take a deep breath because you are definitely not alone. Getting older is hard, that is true. As we age, we have to figure out how to adjust and reboot through all these changes. It also makes sense to feel more anxious as you age. You have more in your life and have been through more experiences. General health, career, or relationships can all factor into the stress around getting older. You are also surrounded by social pressures to settle down, meet the right partner, have children, and so forth. Birthdays can certainly give an excuse to let loose, but can also spotlight an imaginary ticking clock.

But it sounds like you are really tapping into your ultimate goal of finding a balance of happiness.

As we navigate our lives, we have ups and downs based on many factors: People who enter our lives, decisions we make or do not make, opportunities that occur, and more. Some moments are easier than others, while others are so difficult they feel like they are never going to end. How can we be our best self in a moment when we are stressing about the future?

As Betty Friedan says, “Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.”

Being happy and present in the moment is something that we strive to do. An entire industry on meditation and focus is centered around the challenge of staying present, while religions have been teaching it for centuries.

Helpful Practices

Try these reflective exercises to stay in the moment and tap into your best self. This could even become a birthday tradition.

  1. Document how you feel. Turn this into a learning experience with the ability to look back and reflect. What does it feel like to look back and reflect? Try to identify as many emotions as you can. Do your best to describe why you are feeling this way, and what these emotions mean to you. This will effectively cause you to worry less and focus on other things in life.

  2. Write down your best moments of the last year. It doesn’t have to be just one moment and it doesn’t have to be momentous. Write down moments when you felt excited, proud, fulfilled, and happy. It doesn’t have to be a big moment but these are your roses for the year. What made those moments your highlights?

  3. Reach out to somebody who was part of a best moment last year. Check-in to see who was part of your surroundings during your best self. What was their role in your happiness? Were they a teacher, student, friend or advocate?

A Final Word

If you have questions about getting older, or anxiety in general, feel free to reach out to Good Therapy SF.