If you’re between the ages of 40 and 65 and feeling dissatisfied with your life, you’re not alone. As many as half of middle-aged adults deal with a midlife crisis or something similar.
Midlife crises produce many of the same symptoms as depression, and it’s essential to understand the difference if you want to address your mental and emotional health and move forward. Below, Zack Spring explains midlife crises in more detail and provides some tried-and-true strategies for building a healthy and exciting life from your challenges.
What Is a Midlife Crisis?
Most people have heard of a midlife crisis but very few people fully understand what they are and why they happen. Somewhere between the ages of 40 to 65, the average person can experience a crisis of identity as a result of a natural reflection on life.
At this point in life, many people experience some sort of physical, emotional, or situational change (i.e., decline in physical health, menopause, less energy, retirement, loss of a loved one, etc). that causes them to examine where they have been and where they are going.
There’s a common misconception that a midlife crisis is defined by the purchase of a sports car, dyed hair, or changes in relationships. But the truth is a midlife crisis can look different for every person, depending on the triggering event, socio-economic status, cultural influences, gender, and family relationships. The severity, impacts, and longevity of the crisis will vary person to person.
While many people will undergo a midlife crisis, not every person will. It’s possible to have a brief time of feeling down or confused but not experience a midlife crisis. If you think you could be having a midlife crisis, you would be well-served to learn as much as you can and address it as soon as possible.
How Can I Identify a Midlife Crisis?
Not everyone will experience the same symptoms of a midlife crisis, so it’s important not to dismiss what you’re going through based on what you think you know. Every change, emotion, or physical condition can be an indicator of a midlife crisis, and the sooner you identify the problem, the sooner you can determine the solution.
Here are some key indicators of a midlife crisis:
- Sadness — More than an occasional gloominess. This can be a deep sadness that burdens the soul and creates a general, lasting unhappiness and outlook on life.
- Impulsiveness and Overindulgence — This is the symptom many people are familiar with. It looks different for each person, but the common identifier is impulsive decision-making and overindulgence in things like spending, gambling, alcohol, and the like. A feeling of emptiness persists.
- Change in Sex Drive — For some, it’s an increase and for others a decrease. This may lead to feelings of discontentment in a relationship and changes in how you interact with your partner.
- Anger — Outbursts of rage, feelings of being trapped, or annoyance towards loved ones that seems to come out of nowhere.
- Living in the Past — A feeling that the best years have passed, living in the past, and generally having overwhelming feelings of nostalgia.
- Daydreaming — Unable to focus on the present and dreaming about what the future could be or could have been if you had chosen a different partner, career, passion, or home.
- New Goals — A sudden shift in ambitions that motivates you to make big and small changes to correct what could be perceived as wrong choices made in the past.
How Can I Move Forward With Positivity?
Being in a midlife crisis doesn’t mean your present or future has to suffer. There are things you can do to move forward and ensure that you come out the other side wiser, happier, and inspired. Here are some actions to take for reaching getting through this season of life:
Acknowledge Your Place
If you’ve found yourself battling one or more symptoms of a midlife crisis, then you’re already making good progress. Recognition is half the battle in moving through this phase and getting to a place of positivity and progress.
Start by identifying what may have triggered the crisis. For many, this is identifying an event; for others, it’s examining circumstances that could have led to feelings of inadequacy or discontentment. Still, emotions that seem unexplainable can also be the culprit.
If you need help in discovering your triggers or are unable to identify the traits that could be symptoms of your midlife crisis, then seeking help from a mental health professional is an excellent start. Nowadays, many therapists are available online and offer secure sessions from the comfort of your own home.
When looking for a therapist, choose one that you can be open and honest with. Many therapists provide free consultations, so keep looking if you don’t immediately find the right person. You don’t want to commit to meeting with someone you don’t connect with.
Move to a New Area and Start Something New
If you find yourself feeling stuck or dreaming of change, finding a new path forward could indeed be the solution. Just be sure to avoid impulsive or drastic decisions; make intentional, well-thought-out choices instead.
For many people, a change of career and starting a business are the ticket forward. While being an entrepreneur can be a lot of work, providing an in-demand service or product can go a long way toward making you feel a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment.
Additionally, moving forward may also require you to pull up stakes and relocate to a new area. This, of course, may involve purchasing a new home and selling your current one. This could also mean that you’ll need to buy and sell at the same time, which can be a little tricky if you haven’t done so before. Make sure that your budget can handle two mortgages, as you may have to do a little juggling while you’re trying to find someone to take your old property off your hands. You can start your research by viewing home prices in your target areas to determine if you can afford to reside there.
Care for Your Body, Inside and Out
How you treat your body will impact your mood, energy levels, and mental health. If you don’t have regular fitness and nutritional routines and habits, now is the time to form them.
About 80% of your physical well-being is defined by what you consume. Make deliberate choices to eat a balanced diet full of rich leafy greens, lean proteins, fruits, nuts, and seeds. Add in at least 30 minutes of fitness a day, and you’ll be well on your way to your best health yet.
Exercise is another excellent way to care for your body. This, of course, involves developing a workout routine that you can realistically stick to over the long term. You may decide to take up running or walking, or you could invest in some home gym equipment that allows you to work out whenever and however you want.
Midlife crises affect millions of people every year. If you’re struggling to find inspiration, motivation, or fulfillment in your life, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. But you must be proactive in identifying your crisis and implementing positive solutions. There are mental health professionals who can guide you through challenges, but it’s up to you to make the changes.
Zack Spring works as a tech consultant which requires him to travel frequently. He also enjoys running and cycling – staying active as possible. He created TravelFit.info to encourage his readers to stay active while traveling.