Are you overcome with stress and anxiety about how your life is going and the changes you need to make?
If so, you may be experiencing symptoms of a midlife crisis. It can feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. It holds pressure, expectations, and a feeling of doom that can cause some people to feel far behind where they think they should be.
If any of this sounds familiar, know that what you are experiencing is normal and that there are ways to ease the pain through this life-transitioning stage.
In this article, we’ll go over common signs and symptoms of a midlife crisis, how to conquer it, and how to find meaning and purpose to move forward and be mentally healthy for years to come. Let’s jump right in!
Recognize the signs of a Midlife Crisis
Since this type of crisis is relatively normal, there are some tell-tale signs you can look out for to know if this is what you are experiencing. In general, you may feel like something is missing or not quite right in your life, but here are some specific points to look through and see if you are experiencing them.
Common Signs and Symptoms of a Midlife Crisis:
- Feelings of restlessness or discontentment with life
- A sudden urge to make drastic changes in your lifestyle
- Anxiety and depression stemming from a perceived lack of accomplishments or direction in life
- An increased desire for novelty and novelty-seeking behavior like impulsivity and risk-taking
- Increased feelings of stress due to life events (divorce, job loss, etc.)
- Difficulty focusing and difficulty in making decisions
- Feeling disconnected from family and friends
- A feeling of being stuck in life
- Low self-esteem and a lack of confidence
Examples of What a Midlife Crisis Looks like
Here are three examples of how this type of crisis can look different for different people.
- Todd suddenly questions his job and career path, feeling like he should have achieved more by now. Todd feels the pressure to do something drastic, like quit his job and try to launch a business venture he’s been thinking of for years.
- Jessica is dissatisfied with their relationship and suddenly wants to make drastic changes in how they live their life. They want to move away from family and friends to pursue something new and different. It’s almost as if they are in a shell and need to get away to remove it and truly be themselves.
- Lauren feels like her life has no purpose or direction. She feels “stuck” in her current situation and has difficulty focusing and deciding how to move forward. Everything feels pointless and directionless, so her motivation has significantly decreased. She thinks she has yet to make much of an impact on the world around her and is unsure what to do about it or how to change.
No matter what your individual experience with a midlife crisis looks like, it is essential to remember that you are not alone in this struggle, and there are ways to work through it. Let’s discuss how you can get on the path toward a better mental health state during this time of transition.
After reading these examples, do you relate to anyone in particular? How does it look in your life? Whether you relate to one of these examples or if it looks a bit differently for you, know that overcoming the feelings you are experiencing is possible. To conquer this crisis, you need a solid plan.
How to Conquer Your Midlife Crisis: The Action Plan
The following seven steps will outline how you can overcome your midlife crisis in a way that leads you to positive mental health and hope for the future. Start with step one, then feel free to skip around the steps to whatever suits you best.
1. Self Reflection
The first step in conquering your midlife crisis is thoroughly understanding what you are going through. Take a step back and get space to practice self-reflection and introspection. Spend time alone, away from distractions, and reflect on the feelings that have been stirring inside you.
This process of self-discovery can help you identify underlying issues that have been driving your feelings and what desires and goals you may be longing for. Reflecting on your thoughts and feelings can provide clarity and focus on moving forward.
2. Self-Discovery Questions
To help get the ball rolling with self-reflection, here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- What is causing me distress or discomfort?
- What do I desire in my life right now?
- Am I feeling stagnant and stuck in life? If so, what can I do to move forward?
- What areas of my life am I unsatisfied with and why?
- What goals do I want to strive for to find more purpose and meaning?
Answering these questions can help you gain a deeper understanding of what is causing the feelings of distress or discomfort and give you direction on how to move forward.
3. Manage Your Stress
When faced with a midlife crisis, it’s essential to manage your stress levels to ensure positive mental health and give mental clarity to make good decisions on moving forward. Here are some suggestions for how you can do that:
- Get enough sleep every night – aim for 8 hours of quality sleep
- Regularly practice relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation
- Incorporate physical activity into your daily life
- Set realistic goals and expectations for yourself – don’t try to do too much at once
- Make time in your day for activities that bring you joy and help you relax
- Take breaks from difficult or stressful tasks as needed
- Spend some time outdoors, getting plenty of fresh air and sunshine
- Limit your exposure to stressful environments, people, or news outlets
- Connect with others who can offer social support and understanding
- Practice gratitude – focus on the positive moments in your life.
By making self-care and stress relief a priority, you will be able to better manage the stressors that come with this type of life transition.
4. Seeking Support and Guidance
Another vital step to conquering your midlife crisis is to seek out support and guidance. It’s completely normal to experience anxiety, depression, or stress during this time, and it is okay to reach out for help if it starts to feel too heavy.
According to The National Institutes of Health, numerous studies show that social support is essential for maintaining psychological health. They mention that social support may lessen the effects of genetic and environmental vulnerabilities and increase resilience to stress, which is crucial when working through anxiety and crisis.
So lean on those in your life who have been through similar experiences and can offer empathy and understanding as you work through it. Surround yourself with people who can support and encourage you.
If you need more guidance and support than your friends and family can offer, a counselor can provide a safe space to discuss your feelings and experiences. This support is a helpful piece in the puzzle in processing the symptoms you have, reframing your thoughts, and moving forward with confidence.
5. Finding Meaning and Purpose in Life
Now that you have an action plan to handle self-reflection, handling stress, and finding support, it’s time to figure out what is important to you and what’s next in life.
Ask yourself, “Who am I?”
As life goes on, we tend to give up what we like or what is important to us to care for others. This sacrifice often happens for parents, specifically mothers who stay home to raise their children. Our identity changes from “individual person” with likes and dislikes to “mother” or “father,” “husband” or “wife” who doesn’t even have time to go to the bathroom by themselves, let alone set personal goals and have time to work toward them.
Even outside of parenthood, this changes. You may have identified as a college student, and since graduation, you feel lost as to who you are. You may have aging parents you care for, or you may be approaching a milestone year, and your life looks very different than what you thought it would.
No matter what you have or have not achieved in life thus far, we all tend to lose touch with ourselves to care for others over time. This is where we need to ask ourselves the critical question, “Who am I?”
Now is the time to rediscover new likes, dislikes, goals, dreams, dissatisfaction, and ideals. Try not to focus too much on past versions of yourself. You may have painted a lot ten years ago. That doesn’t mean you have to paint anymore. So go through these questions with an open mind, and remember you are no longer the person you once were. You have so many more life experiences that shape all that makes up who you are. Give yourself credit, show self-compassion, and be proud of where you stand today.
Questions to Understand Who You Are:
Here are some questions to ask yourself as you rediscover who you are again:
- What do I love to do for fun?
- What are my core values and beliefs?
- If money was no object, what career would I pursue?
- Do I have any regrets or unfinished business? If so, how can I make amends?
- What legacy do I want to leave behind when I’m gone?
- What do I want to be remembered for?
- How can I align my lifestyle with my core values?
- What kind of relationships do I need to feel happy and fulfilled?
- Do I have any unhealthy patterns or habits that need breaking? If so, what steps can I take to break them?
- What am I passionate about, and how can I pursue that meaningfully?
- How do I want to spend my free time?
- What risks am I willing to take to find more purpose and meaning in life?
- What brings me joy, fulfillment, and peace?
- What do I need to stop doing or saying to become the best version of myself?
- Is there anything I can do to help others less fortunate than me? If so, how can I make a difference?
- How can I continue to grow as an individual, even during this challenging time?
- What can I do to ensure I’m maintaining my mental and physical health?
- What relationships should I nurture to feel supported and encouraged in life?
- How can I start embracing change instead of resisting it?
- Is there anything else that would bring more meaning into my life? If so, what steps can I take to pursue it?
By exploring the answers to these questions, you can gain insight into yourself and begin your journey of rediscovering who you are. As mentioned earlier, self-reflection is integral to navigating a midlife crisis and finding meaning and purpose. Use these questions to help you find direction, meaning, and joy again.
6. Embracing Change
Change can be overwhelming, but it is also a necessary part of life and growth. It can allow us to rediscover ourselves, renew our perspective, and move toward something more significant. During a midlife crisis, embracing change is essential for finding purpose and meaning in life again.
The best way to embrace change is by taking small steps forward. Start by setting smaller, achievable goals to help you move closer to the more extensive changes you want to make.
Also, take time for yourself and practice self-care. Ensure you listen to your body and mind as you work through this transition period.
With a hopeful perspective and patience, you will be better equipped to move forward with clarity and precision.
7. Life Beyond Social Expectations
It can be overwhelming to try and keep up with the social expectations for different stages in life. We are constantly bombarded with Instagram stories and unspoken (and unfortunately, sometimes loudly spoken) narratives that you need to accomplish or have “X” by “Y” years old. These social norms of what a successful life looks like can make you feel like it’s not okay if you’re not living up to them.
The truth is, most of us don’t fit into the same narrative as everyone else. People’s lives take different paths – some move faster than others, and some take longer. Everyone is unique, and their journey will be too.
What matters is that you live a life that satisfies you and brings you joy. Be honest with yourself and focus on what’s important to you. Living for others will only get you temporary satisfaction. Once you’re not trying to please everyone else, you can start to explore the possibilities of what life could look like on your terms, not someone else’s.
Take your time, show yourself compassion, and remember that it’s okay to take a different path than what is socially expected of you. Embrace the freedom of charting your own course and be proud of who you are!
By understanding the signs of a midlife crisis, utilizing your action plan, and learning to let go of social expectations, you can finally start to focus on what is most important – what you really want out of life!
Remember to prioritize self-reflection and self-care to cut stress before it even begins. You now have the tools to work through your midlife crisis with confidence and hope. You are in the driver’s seat of your life, and you can decide what road to take yourself down. Time is always passing – we can’t stop the Earth from rotating! But you can control your actions to make yourself happy and fulfilled.
Comment below which part of the action plan will be the most helpful or if you’ve found something that works for you!
If you would like more structured guidance on navigating your life crisis, we are here to help. Start here or call us to get linked with a counselor trained specifically to help you in this area. With hope, guidance, patience, and self-love, you can conquer these feelings and find true joy once again.