We’ve all heard the term “midlife crisis” being used to describe how someone’s thoughts, feelings and behaviours sometimes change as people reach middle age. Although this phrase is often used lightly, for those experiencing a potential midlife crisis, this can be a very difficult time. When someone’s feelings are left unchecked, this can sometimes lead to more serious issues developing, such as depression, anxiety and commonly divorce.
We look at seven common signs and explore ways that you can try to cope with a midlife crisis:
It’s all too easy to get caught up in the general busyness and everyday noise without stopping to consider what you really want out of life. You may have a high-pressure job that means you are spending less quality time with family and friends then you would like. You may be a working parent who is trying to juggle childcare with a career. Or, you may have filled your life with so many activities that you rarely find time to fully relax. Sometimes we fill our days with things to simply distract us from how we are really feeling about our life.
It is important to stand back from everyday activities occasionally to take stock of what we actually want out of life. One way of doing this is to be ‘mindful’; this is where you try and take your mind away from busy thoughts and focus only on what’s immediately around you. For example, a walk in a local park, where you can focus on the trees and plants, listen to the birds, and as the saying goes – take time to “smell the roses”.
Many people reach a point in their lives where they may have secured a successful career. However, problematic feelings can emerge when people realise all they have achieved does not give them the level of satisfaction they had expected. This can lead to confusion, low mood and irritability – and, ultimately, a midlife crisis.
Interestingly, there is a current trend where the highest number of people starting new businesses are in their fifties. Nowadays, it is very common for people to move from a long-term career to either start a different job role or a new venture. If this is how you are feeling, it might be time to sit down and map out what you might do if you did leave your current career. By taking practical action, you will be able to give yourself a new focus, which may help to alleviate any negative feelings – for example, you could make a list of possible career changes and any related training you may need to do.
If you are unhappy in your career or with your current life situation, there’s a real risk these feelings could start to spiral into depression. Therefore, it’s important to talk to those around you and share how you are really feeling. If you feel limited or constrained by your life circumstances, this will only lead to you feeling frustrated and your loved ones may start to suffer, due to your low mood.
Finding a sense of “purpose” is everyone’s goal in life, but there are different ways you could fulfil this need. Many people assume their purpose must be career-related or to create a family. Although this may be enough of a purpose for lots of people, many others achieve this in their lives but still feel unfulfilled. While you are trying to find your purpose, one idea would be to consider giving something back to your local community. An “act of kindness” can be very rewarding to both you and the recipient. For example – you could volunteer for a charity or help a local community group.
Apathy can lead to a sense of numbness, which in turn can then lead on to more serious issues. When you lose interest in the things you used to enjoy, there is usually a reason behind these feelings. It could be that you have simply changed as a person, due to age, and you no longer feel satisfied with the activities you once enjoyed when you were younger.
However, if you have experienced trauma, or you are going through a difficult period, this can also cause a general loss of interest in life. Try to discuss your feelings with loved ones, and if this does not seem possible, then it might be worth talking to a counsellor or therapist.
This is probably the most common sign of all that you might be going through a midlife crisis. We have all heard of people reaching their forties and suddenly buying that sports car or starting to wear younger styles of clothing. Such actions are not necessarily an issue unless someone’s behaviours start to conflict with their partner or loved ones. For example, if someone is starting to drink more alcohol or other harmful habits, this can be a clear sign of a problem that needs addressing.
When someone’s character has changed to a point where their partner is no longer able to relate to them, this can spell disaster for long-term relationships and marriages. Such out-of-character behaviours could be masking someone’s negative thoughts and feelings. Or, it could be a sign that a relationship is no longer working and it’s time to consider getting a divorce or ending things. However, it is very important that you and your partner sit down and discuss how you both really feel – consider what you both want out of life and whether you want to stay on your life journey together. Never make hasty decisions with any relationship, unless you are in a situation which is causing you harm in some way.
Sleeping patterns are one of the clearest signs that something may be wrong. Some people may find it difficult to get off to sleep, whereas others may find themselves waking up in the early hours and struggle to get back to sleep. Poor quality sleep can be a result of many factors, including feelings of stress and alcohol consumption.
If you have something on your mind, this can cause you to experience poor quality sleep. Prolonged sleep disturbance can cause you to feel low and this can have a dramatic effect on your physical health too. Therefore, it’s important to try to understand what’s affecting your sleep patterns and consider how you can resolve this. You may find it helpful to talk to a professional therapist, who may be able to help you understand why you are sleeping badly.
If you are experiencing a permanent low mood or you find yourself getting stressed at the slightest thing, this is another clear sign that something may be wrong. If your feelings are affecting your day-to-day life, then it’s time to seek help.
To determine whether there is a medical reason for the way you are feeling, it’s important to speak to your GP. They may suggest referring you to a counsellor or therapist, which will help you to understand the root cause of your feelings and you will learn new coping mechanisms.
If a midlife crisis has announced itself in your current situation and may have possibly led to you undergoing a divorce. We recommend that you seek the advice and assistance of reputable and experienced divorce attorneys. Click here for more helpful information on what to consider when going through a divorce.