They say life starts at 40, but not all welcome this “new beginning” wholeheartedly. Sometimes, a mid-life crisis sets in.
The sudden change of perspective in life is often times an unpleasant experience. Mid-life crisis, now called as a transition, is a stereotypical period in life when people are said to do outrageous, impractical things like quit a job impulsively, buy a red sports car, or dump your spouse.
We may laugh at the behavioral tendencies, but we often overlook the gravity of this situation, taking it lightly and saying it’ll just go away. The mere fact that this takes an individual on an emotional and psychological roller-coaster ride, it’s important to know the subtle and apparent patterns to properly deal with this stage. Here are a few symptoms of a mid-life crisis someone usually goes through and how to deal with them for a rewarding and enlightening transition:
1. You’re starting to feel like losing your identity and/or sense of purpose.
Many middle-aged folks say that they suddenly feel like they’ve lost track of themselves. It means a lot to have a strong sense of purpose and self, for they serve like a drive for everybody to wake up each day and make a difference.
A lot have reported asking themselves, “who am I really?” or “what now?” It seems like an existential crisis because you start to wonder (at this point in life) what have you become and what does the future hold for you, or will there ever be something different in store for me?
Many may see this as a reevaluation of goals and self, so it’s a good thing! However, for some this a tough one to overcome. The best way to deal with this is to open up and be willing to tell others everything you’re going through. Having a solid support group is a good start to realigning your goals or even creating new ones. Doing it alone could lead to other negative emotions because the sufferer is basically vulnerable.
2. You’re starting to ruthlessly assess yourself.
It surprises you to envy the youth of your colleagues or friends all of a sudden. While it may be normal for those who have acknowledged how time flies so fast, others take it negatively and suddenly become utterly ruthless to themselves. You start to notice the wrinkles, the protruding belly, the untoned muscles, the horrible stretch marks or just about anything that you never really paid attention to.
Others even resent themselves for not being as successful as others. Your high school buddy has a bigger house, more cars or more money. Your college roommate has now secured an executive position in a big company, and here you are still stuck on being a manager or supervisor. Perhaps you felt like you haven’t reached the peak of your career, or maybe you’re still in the works of establishing yourself.
The list could go on but it can only pull you deeper into the pit. Acceptance is perhaps the key to conquer this struggle. Everyone has their own place in the sun, and that includes you. If things worked out, look at how far you’ve gone from the bottom to where you are now. If things went otherwise, look at the lessons learned and seize the opportunity to turn your life around.
3. You’re starting to regret.
In most cases, regrets come in waves as memories of bad decisions overwhelm you. Plans you’ve put off or totally forgotten, things that don’t turn out the way you wanted them to be or unfulfilled desire in life suddenly haunts you day and night.
Before this aspect of the mid-life crisis could drown you, meditate and come up with new plans and goals. The best would be something that you can easily achieve starting from where you are. It could be a childhood dream that you can still materialize – who says it’s already too late to make them come true? Since you no longer believe in fairy godparents or genies, do them yourself.
4. You’re starting to form an obsession.
Most articles I’ve come across with mention cosmetic surgery, impulsive buying of toys for the big boys and the likes when talking about formed obsessions during a mid-life crisis. While these are overly common to the point of cliché, they still ring true.
Those you once thought to be trivial and frivolous are now the things you’re fixated on. For instance, the effort to maintain youth, get in shape or hang out with younger ones even to the extent of disconnecting with peers. Seeking attention and appreciation could also be a form of obsession, as adults going through this phase want to feel secure and significant.
Whatever your obsession is, it could only do little as it’s insatiable unless you deal with the root. Getting help from therapists in dealing with obsessions is the best way to get over them. People could get highly dependent on these that telling to stop immediately could make things worse.
5. You’re starting to think you might have depression.
Mid-life crisis does not equate to depression, but the former can definitely trigger the latter. A sufferer could lose interest and enthusiasm on things he used to love doing. He could be so blue and so down that he’s getting irritable and his decisions get rash and unreasonable.
It’s better to have yourself checked whether it has escalated into something more serious like depression. Experts know the fine-line between crisis and depression, and if things have reached to that point you’ll be properly dealt with.
6. You’re beginning to enjoy taking risks.
It could be the use of drugs, the indulgence in alcoholism and illicit affairs and the need to do something adventurous.
Taking a breather by getting out of your comfort zone is good for your well-being but this doesn’t mean at the expense of your family, health, and society. What you do as an individual affects those around you. See the bigger picture before you make a move. Seek the advice of experts and consult your friends and family even if you have the urge to take control of your life.
These are temporary gratifications with very long-term effects, possibly leading to a totally ruined life. Be transparent and don’t hold back from telling others what you’re going through. Besides, you’re not the only one who’s undergoing the hardships of a mid-life crisis. Consider yourself lucky to have friends and a family to lean on.
7. You’re panicking with your health.
I remember several friends told me about how their parents got so distressed over a cold or a cough, which we considered as a sign of a mid-life crisis. In my case, I just let my mom be and tell her to pay the doctor a visit. It’s better for the doctor to explain and answer all her queries. That helps her calm down. She takes her medicines religiously and I can see there’s peace on her countenance.
There’s nothing wrong with going to the doctor when you feel sick or unusual. If that’s going to give you a peace of mind, then go ahead. Your doctor would be patient and understanding enough, just ask as many questions until you’re satisfied. The more you feel like groping in the dark, the more you’ll get eaten up by anxiety and stress.
Improve on your diet as well. Taking control over your cravings for unhealthy food is the first step to victory. Eating disorders could set in when left unaddressed. Mood and energy-boosting foods can definitely aid in improving your mental and physical health, and you need that more than ever.
8. You’re beginning to contemplate on death.
While people could still be a picture of health and vigor even in their 40s, they’re more aware and conscious of their mortality compared to their younger counterparts.
Eventually, we’ll all get there. Nobody just wants to get there first, I guess. The best approach to this inevitable end, live life as if it’s your last. Make more time and memories with your family and friends. Volunteer and make this world a better place to live in. Touch as many lives as you can so until you’ll say to yourself that this is a life well-lived.
Keeping a positive mental attitude on the different phases in life is your anchor in getting out of them unscathed. Looking at a mid-life crisis as more of a renewal or rebirth of the soul than a dead end can keep your chin up to spend the rest of your life meaningfully. It all boils down to acknowledging this transitional setback as normal or as necessary to redeem yourself. This mid-life crisis is neutral in itself. Its outcome depends on how you deal with the struggles. The best result is coming out from this pit stronger and better as a person.
Author Bio: Abigail A. Sabijon is a team counselor, trainer, and instructor. She has worked in an international institute and taught at a university. Now, she’s a blogger and editor of Scoopfed.com.