Being Present Now Helps Me to Avoid Anxiety About the Future
My sense of time has shifted. Part of this change is age-related: I will be 55 this year. When I was younger, I thought about what the future might bring. My dreams seemed so far away then, causing me to feel impatient at times.
I am less rushed these days. I try to take time to appreciate life. Ironically, while time seems to be slowing down, it also appears to be speeding up, an indication that I am more aware of my mortality. This heightened sense of life’s fragility has a direct correlation with my concern about my wife and daughter.
As readers of this column know, my wife has Huntington’s disease, a terminal illness that doesn’t have a cure yet. Jill’s symptoms are subtle now. My daughter also has Huntington’s. As a young adult, her symptoms aren’t apparent and probably won’t manifest for another 20 years.
But based on what I know and have observed of those with the disease, I have imagined what they will go through in the years ahead, and the changes will not be pleasant for their minds or bodies.
It’s natural to think ahead and imagine the worst-case scenarios. However, one of the best things about getting older is the wisdom that comes with age. And that is why I have been training my mind to apply the brakes on any thoughts about the future.
Our imaginations can be vivid; allowing mine to run free is like letting a bunch of wild cats run around inside my head. It is a recipe for chaos — the kind that leads to frequent bouts of depression, anxiety, and sleepless nights.
Life is too short to allow chaos to happen. As my wife’s primary caregiver, I need to stay balanced so that I can give her my best whenever she needs help. So, that is why I have decided to live each moment as fully as I can, staying as present as possible in every situation. As a man of faith, there is a biblical precedent for this. In the Gospel of Matthew 6:34, Jesus said, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Those lines resonate with me. I like the simple and brilliant message of appreciating life now. I am not overwhelmed by now. I can manage this moment now. It’s when I think of the future that my head feels like it will explode.
I believe that this lesson of living in the now applies to everyone — and particularly to caregivers. As a caregiver, I have much to be grateful for right now. I may feel overwhelmed at times, but those moments pass. And if there is a lot of love in the moment, and you are conscious of this love — because you are fully present — it helps your heart to explode (in good ways).
To me, that is healthier than your head exploding. In other words, we make heart memories by being in the present — so live those moments fully. It’s the difference between allowing grace to work in your life instead of letting in the chaos that comes from stress and anxiety.
Note: Huntington’s Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Huntington’s Disease News, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Huntington’s disease.