Ask Dr. Joy Miller: With age comes less worry

By WEEK Producer

September 12, 2012 Updated Sep 12, 2012 at 7:36 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- It may surprise you, but research shows that as a person ages, worrisome feelings aren't as common as they are when they are younger.

The Golden Oldies have found some real tricks to minimize stress and the emotional state and tonight, we will focus on some of those strategies and learn from their wisdom.

Tell us a little bit about emotion and stress as we age.
* Research shows that stress grows in our 20s and that it is higher for women than men and then declines in old age.
* Feelings of enjoyment are highest when we are young and decline and midlife and then rise in old age.
* People tend to worry most in midlife around 40-50.
* Anger is at a peak in early adulthood and begins a long gradual decline.
* Sadness stays constant throughout life, and women experience more sad feelings than men.

What can we do as we grow older to create more satisfaction and less emotional turmoil?

* Older people tend to focus on the present situation that brings them pleasure and less on the future.
* Process negative information less deeply than positive experiences.
* Young people explore & take risks to achieve and experience frustrations and anxiety while older people focus more on immediate goals with positive outcomes.
* Older people tend to live longer when they focus on positive emotions vs. negative ones.

What can we learn from these studies?
* Live in the moment. Stay focused on the present and enjoy the pleasures that come from every action and experience during the day.
* Savor life. Look at the positives of each experience today. You have a choice. You can focus on the positive and see beauty and happiness or you can choose to look at negatives and remain angry, frustrated and depressed.
* Minimize self-blame. Older people tend to spend less energy on blaming themselves and don’t dwell on things they can not change.

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