How to Recognize, Navigate Midlife Crisis
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How to Recognize, Navigate Midlife Crisis

How to Recognize, Navigate Midlife Crisis

What is a midlife crisis, anyway? Some argue it’s a cultural phenomenon. But research shows a trend of overall happiness dipping around or near our 40’s, and beginning to rise again later in life. 

In my therapy experience, many types of life transitions come with mindset shifts that can be emotionally challenging. Midlife, which is commonly thought to be around the 40’s and 50’s (but can be earlier or later), is often a time of multiple transitions. This can include a growing career or preparing for retirement, children moving out of the home, aging parents, hormonal changes, and other developing health concerns.

These transitions lead us to new perspectives on life. Some of the challenges that may arise include fear of getting older, regret from things done or not done in younger years, or a belief that the best years of our life are gone. 

When someone lacks the insight and healthy coping skills to manage these uncomfortable feelings, they are vulnerable to unhealthy escaping behavior including alcohol/substance abuse, affairs, or excessive spending.

If you are experiencing any of those feelings, take these healthier steps:

  1. Acknowledge it. Identify the changes in your life and be compassionate with yourself by recognizing they are hard.
  2. Focus on what is in your control. Your anxiety will want to hyper focus on your fears and things out of your control. In every situation, we have choices that help ground us, even if it’s simply choosing our attitude. For each of your areas of transition, notice the associated fear and then recognize your choices. Writing these thoughts and choices down will help you be more objective.
  3. Work through grief. As time goes on, we experience more loss, whether it’s death, jobs, youth, etc. It’s natural. Working through grief is an important part of healing.  Getting stuck in the grief, though, is detrimental. It’s ok to ask for help if you are struggling.  
  4. Create a vision for the future. As we work on accepting losses, we must also hang on to hope for our future. Things will not be the same as they were in our past, but the new can bring joy, as well. Consider what you want the future to look like and be intentional in making it happen.

Midlife may or may not be a crisis for you. For many, there are moments of discomfort in the transition. Remind yourself you are not alone. You have come through many previous transitions in the past. 

Allow yourself to feel whatever it is you need to feel and trust you can and will work through it.  The process will allow you to be open and available to experience the many beautiful benefits the current stage of life has to offer. 

 

Pamper Your Mind

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