You may joke about middle-aged men (and women) buying a sports car when they hit 50, but there’s actually some truth behind the fabled mid-life crisis. While it’s often associated with males, women are more likely to go through this particular bump in the road earlier in life than men.
Instead of getting a facelift or blowing money on a very expensive toy (which apparently is the choice of many women and men), there are more practical ways to weather a mid-life crisis that will have longer lasting effects. Here are eight things to keep in mind when you think you are facing a challenge…
1. Acknowledge How you Feel
Instead of burying your concerns about getting older, changing in physical appearance, or not being as strong or financially secure as you once were, you should acknowledge them, says Psychology Today. The source calls big life changes “uh-oh” moments, the same as other big events like marriage or having a child.
Telling yourself you’re facing a dilemma is the first step in dealing with it, adds the source. It refers to aging as “emerging maturity” and an opportunity to plan our (hopefully) many years ahead. In fact, the source suggests by looking at this time positively, you can avoid a major crisis altogether.
2. Tap Into New Beginnings
No, this doesn’t mean you should run off with your secretary or pool boy. What we mean is that you’ve been nurturing your intellect all your life; perhaps it’s time to put that to good use by learning a new creative hobby, something that will rekindle the passion in you and distract yourself from feeling down, suggests Huffington Post.
Whether it’s writing (maybe now’s a good time to write that memoir you always wanted to), painting, dancing, or even learning a musical instrument, tapping into a creative side you never even knew you had might help you through a crisis. Or, at least it’ll help you forget that you’re having one.
3. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
This is something you should strive to do at any given time in your life, but middle age dilemmas are sometimes no match for throwing yourself in a scary (read: exciting) new situation. Part of the problem might be that you’re feeling stuck or limited to your own (perceived) abilities, when you could be living the magic.
For example, with all that life experience you have now, maybe it’s time to apply for that dream job and really believe you can get it. Or, maybe you’ve been avoiding traveling because you don’t like to fly. Well, it’s time to get over that, because you’re standing in your own way.
4. Discuss the Crisis with your Spouse
Wait—don’t many people end up having affairs during their mid-life crisis? Why would you want to talk to your spouse about it? It may be true that some people look outside of their marriage or long-term relationship for “comfort” during these times, but as experts point out, an affair is just a symptom of the bigger problem.
You may be feeling stuck or unappreciated, and assume that your partner doesn’t care. The truth is, your partner might have no idea you’re going through a crisis, and by talking about it you can both work out ways to get through it together.
5. Go Back to School
This may pertain to women more than men, but WebMD notes that sometimes a woman’s mid-life crisis includes realizing they’ve given their best years to their family—and wanting to take some time back for themselves.
After the children can fend for themselves, women (or men) can take the opportunity to study something they’ve been interested in, like website design for example. Then you can use that newfound knowledge to land a job that will give you the satisfaction you were craving, notes the source.
6. Avoid ‘The Grass is Greener’ Thinking
During certain times in our lives, we start looking at where we’re at in life and love compared to others around us. This can especially be true during middle age, when everything is supposed to look like it’s out of a magazine about a perfect life.
Well, remember that no life is perfect. While your buddy may have a bigger house, or a nicer car, there are probably things going on in their life that you wouldn’t want for yourself. As Bustle.com points out, “Someone’s Success Isn’t Your Failure.” If you’re worried that you haven’t achieved enough, maybe you just haven’t set the goals.
7. Think of Mid-Life as a Passage, Not a Crisis
This Guardian.com article talks about a mid-life passage, which is a way of looking at the whole experience as a transition rather than a dead end. It describes how some people end up with an “L-shaped” life, which means they fall from their pedestal and flatline in later years.
The ideal approach is to strive for a “U-shaped” life, where you may be down for a while but burst back like a phoenix rising from the ashes. Think of the “crisis” as a test that can bring big rewards if you get through it successfully. But remember not to put to much pressure on yourself, and seek the help we’ve mentioned if things aren’t working.
8. Talk to a Professional
In some cases, talking to friends or family may not be enough, and a professional therapist might be the right choice, adds WebMD. It notes that this crisis can lead to depression, which can be aided by talk therapy and even medications.
You’ll know when depression has set in when you start losing interest in things you loved and develop a “what’s the point” attitude, as well as feeling blue and disconnected from people. The site notes that talk therapy and medication can work together for best results, but not both are necessary in all situations.