Is midlife crisis getting to you? (Image via Pexels/SHVETS Production)

How to Cope with Midlife Crisis to Improve Your Mental Health

Traditionally, your midlife is a period between 40 and 60 years. This is usually the time when people come to terms with their mortality. You realize that you are getting older and start taking inventory of your life. Questions such as "Have I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish?" and "Has my life been meaningful?" start cropping up in your mind.

After a few years of believing that the world is your playground, reality strikes and you begin to understand that there are a few things you cannot do and a few things you will never be able to do.

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Midlife may be a period associated with changes and losses, including declining health status, retirement, caregiving for aging parents, and unexpected responsibility for adult children or grandchildren. For many of us, this can also lead to severe anxiety or depression.

Across the research literature, there has been a debunking of the inevitability of the midlife crisis. However, there is a consensus that around 10% of men in the American population may still go through it.

A study conducted worldwide involved people between the age of 47 to 52 and researchers asked them to rate their lives. Across countries, it was found that there is a general dip in these age groups. Irrespective of the concern, whether it was anxiety, loneliness, strain, phobias, panic or downheartedness, the numbers got worse between 47 to 52.

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There is no set of symptoms that apply to everyone going through a midlife crisis because it is not an illness. Anxiety, tension, or frustration that is especially tied to age, aging, or mortality is what characterizes a midlife crisis instead.

People going through or about to go through a midlife crisis may display any of the following feelings and actions:

Relationship dissatisfaction. You may wish to end your relationship, lose interest in s*x, or dramatically change your s*xual preferences.

Unhappiness with one's career. Someone going through a midlife crisis may want to leave their job or avoid obligations. They may feel jealous and resentful of younger coworkers, especially those who seem to be moving up in the company.

Emotional distress. Symptoms of emotional turbulence include feeling depressed or empty (particularly for long periods of time), having a short fuse or being easily upset, frequently reflecting on death, doubting one's faith, acting recklessly, or abusing drugs and alcohol.

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Coping with midlife crisis

This list aims towards stimulating midlife creation, and not crisis.

1) Acknowledge

For most of us, it may be confusing to experience these feelings that may come out of nowhere. The fact is that we are growing and each life stage is accompanied by its own challenges.

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2) Refocusing

It can be frustrating to work with a camera that keeps getting out of focus, but you can eventually refocus it and click clear pictures. Midlife crises can often be caused by focusing on your deficits and failures. Refocusing on your past and current achievements can help you feel more grounded and in control of your situation.

3) Changing roles and responsibilities

As we age, the quality of your relationships and roles keeps changing. For example, you may feel ignored when your children move out and no longer depend on you. But that means you succeeded as a parent in making them independent.

In a few years, you will take on the role of a grandparent, which will come with additional responsibilities.

4) Self Care

Changes to your physique, sleeping patterns, and connection with food are likely to occur during midlife. It might be tougher for you to get to sleep or run at the same pace.

It is crucial to spend a little additional effort creating and upholding healthy behaviors rather than becoming disheartened by these changes.

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Finding time for yourself is important for midlife creation. (Image via Pixabay/James Cracknell)

5) Finding your purpose

As you approach midlife, circumstances like divorce, job loss, or an empty nest may leave you looking for a sense of purpose. It may be tempting to assume that your prime years have passed. That statement need not be accurate, though.

Attempt something novel. Try out a new pastime like creative writing or photography. Alternately, test your mettle in a language course. By doing this, you will increase your social network, keep your mind sharp, and give your life a fresh direction.

You are not required to stick to situations that help you develop your skills. A rewarding use of your time can also include traveling to new places. Consider going to your neighborhood parks and art galleries, or arranging longer visits abroad.

Keeping up with midlife crisis. (Image via Pexels/Yan Krukov)
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In today's contemporary culture, it is possible to experience a midlife crisis at a much earlier stage, even in your 20s. You may lose a family member, encounter a betrayal, or get diagnosed with an illness that may entirely change your belief system.

By reflecting on your priorities and obtaining help from a mental health expert, you can get through a midlife crisis.


Janvi Kapur is a counselor with a Master's degree in applied psychology and specializes in clinical psychology.

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