A Widow’s High Anxiety

You are smart, successful, popular – and a new widow. Your anxiety may begin in a bad dream, where you wake up to a messy bed and waves of worry that won’t let you go back to sleep.

You get up and pace, watch an infomercial, get a cup of tea and sit down to obsess over your life. High anxiety doesn’t just haunt you at night, it can also happen during the day. There really doesn’t have to be any good reason for your fears, other than the fact that as a new widow, change has been forced on you.

I’ve talked to some psychotherapists and they regularly suggest mediation for helping widows to slow down and investigate their feelings. Give it a try and you might realize that anger, fear and disappointment aren’t as solid and immovable as they seem. Fierce emotions don’t always have to be shoved aside.

With mediation, the point isn’t to empty your mind of thoughts but to develop an awareness of the thoughts you do have. You concentrate on one object, such as your breath, but don’t worry if your mind has strayed and just gently start over. The practice of letting go of obsessions, worries, anxiety and starting over again with compassion for yourself, will eventually affect the way you live.

Since most of us spend too much time in our heads, this practice brings us back into reality. You can also simply go on a slow walk, paying attention to your feelings and choose to repeat a few phrases that offer care and kindness to yourself.

Try to lower your high anxiety by taking 15 minutes every day to meditate, but do it for even 5 minutes if that’s all you have. If someone or something is distressing you, instead of losing sleep over it, stop and meditate over why you feel the way you do and what your choices are.

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