4 tell-tale signs of a mid-life crisis (and what to do about it)
Usually the term "mid-life crisis" is full of negative connotations, but some experts believe that this state of mind can provide wonderful opportunities for growth and renewal. Usually it hits men and women between their early 40s and their mid-50s (friends tell me it hits men a little later than women). But it doesn't always have to be a “crisis”. Below are some tips on how to turn it from a “mental breakdown” to a “mental breakthrough” (the preferred word, according to social commentator Brene Brown!).
1. You question your life decisions: Your life may not be what you expected at this point in time. In some cases, if you're satisfied, that's fine, but if not, it's time for some changes (slow, slow). There may suddenly be a desire to pursue your own dreams as you may find that you lived your life for you following someone else's vision.
THE FIX 1: This is the time to come up with solutions and changes that will bring you closer to your own dreams – think big and don't limit yourself! At the same time, proceed slowly and avoid rash decisions.
The FIX 2: Sometimes we have to reject the ideologies forced upon us and develop our own to be truly happy. This could mean realizing that what you do is important and valuable no matter what society tells you (e.g., staying home to raise children).
2. You feel anxious or depressed: Brene: “The truth is, midlife disintegration is a series of painful nudges held together by substandard anxiety and depression, silent despair, and insidious loss of control. By inferior, quiet, and insidious, I mean, it's enough to drive you crazy, but rarely enough for outside people to validate the fight or offer you help and calm. It's the dangerous kind of suffering – the way you can pretend everything is fine. "
The repair: This is the time to speak to friends, family and trusted confidante because a problem shared is a problem halved. You are not a failure. You are honest … and human like the rest of us.
3. You feel like you are going around the curve: Sometimes it is your anger that shocks you, or the fact that you feel so bored or lonely most of the time, or that you may not remember the last time you had fun. Whatever it is, it is driving you crazy and not like yourself. You may feel like you have nothing to look forward to, but that doesn't help your mood.
The repair: Find out what you need in your life to make yourself feel better. Maybe you need some time alone. Maybe you need more support? Or do you need to be with like-minded people more often? Maybe you need to plan some fun things in the journal? Perhaps it is (finally) time to take a bite and start a new hobby? Or do you just need to slow down? Try to see the future in a more optimistic light. Perhaps write down an ideal vision of what life should be like 5 or 10 years from now. It may look very good – and you may surprise yourself that you are more optimistic than you thought you were.
4. You feel like something has been lost: Unsurprisingly, we feel a sense of loss when we face the reality of our life, and we realize that it may not be what we imagined it to be. You might be in grief right now. Or do you feel like you've lost yourself somewhere along the way? If left alone it can lead to depression. But it's not too late – or too complicated – to clear that up.
The repair: It is not all doom and darkness. At this point in your life you know yourself better and you have wisdom on your side. It is a good time to write down some new goals for the next few years. Turn things upside down: thinking that there has to be more to life can actually be a good thing. It means you have a passion and a thirst for life. Now it's about finding a focus for that passion.
The good news
A recent study by the British Psychological Society in 2016 found that individuals experiencing either a quarter or mid-life crisis by being very focused on their purpose in life are likely to find creative solutions to their challenges.
One of the leading researchers, Dr. Robinson said, “While mid-life crisis events create distress and insecurity, they bring too Openness to new ideas and impulses that bring insights and creative solutions that can drive our development. This heightened curiosity can be the “silver lining” of the crisis. "