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Experts Explain How to Deal With a Midlife Crisis: Follow These 7 Tips
Mental Health

Experts Explain How to Deal With a Midlife Crisis: Follow These 7 Tips

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Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on December 1, 2022
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8 min

Not everyone will experience a midlife crisis, but it can be challenging for those who do. In this article, you can find tips to help you cope with the emotional distress of experiencing a midlife crisis, common triggers, and when it’s most likely to occur.

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As you approach middle age, you might wonder about the possibility of having a midlife crisis.

It doesn’t happen to everyone, and there’s even debate about whether a midlife crisis exists at all. Still, it is common to experience new feelings when you reach your middle years. You might question your relationships, career, life goals, and overall perspective of your life.

When these personality changes occur, they can take their toll on your mental well-being. It can knock your self-esteem and cause sudden changes in your mood. You might feel sad, angry, and anxious about your future. So, what can you do if faced with midlife crisis symptoms?

Keep reading to learn some key strategies for coping with these new feelings.

How to Deal With a Midlife Crisis? A Psychologist Gives 7 Tips

Midlife crisis symptoms can vary from person to person. Often, it can cause your mental health to decline, as people experience mood swings, loss of self-confidence, and feelings of emptiness. You can try various coping strategies to help you through difficult times.

Here are 7 things you can do to help cope with a midlife crisis.

#1 Maintain strong social connections

Midlife blues can make you feel lonely and isolated, making social interaction even more important. Spending time with your friends and family is critical for your mental welfare. Research shows that maintaining strong social connections can improve mental health.

Sharing your feelings with people who care about you can help you gain new perspectives and help you focus on the present rather than the past. They can cheer you up and make you laugh, and you may leave the social interaction happier.

It can serve as a gentle reminder that your relationships contribute to your life satisfaction. If you’re not in the mood for group social events, try meeting one friend or family member for a morning or evening walk, a cup of coffee, or a healthy mid-week lunch.

#2 Learn something new

Younger people are not the only ones who can study and learn new skills. Older adults can benefit from keeping the brain active, promoting improved cognitive function. Middle age is a great time to get creative with your daily routine. You can try something new or return to an old hobby.

The world is full of activities. You could try a new hobby that awakens your creative side, such as painting, gardening, sewing, or learning a new language. There are also physical activities, like pilates, nordic walking, chi walking, and exercise classes that push you out of your comfort zone.

You can learn a new skill from the comfort of your home, or you can join groups and attend face-to-face classes. This also offers an ample opportunity to connect and reconnect with others, engage in conversation, and meet new people that bring excitement into your life.

#3 Start journaling

Journaling is an amazing tool for your mental health, whatever problems you face. It is considered a form of self-care, as it provides an alternative outlet for your thoughts where you can vent, recognize patterns, and process your feelings in a healthy way.

Middle age can trigger changes that leave you questioning your own life. It’s vital that you pay attention to the way you feel and take time to understand what’s going on. Talking to people is always good, but putting your thoughts down on paper can promote self-awareness.

It can be something other than paper, too. If you prefer technology, then the Sensa app provides a digital mood journal that lets you record your daily mood and track whether you experience feelings of joy or sadness. You can enter mood changes and add comments, such as daily stressors.

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The Sensa app also gives you the tools to improve your mental state, with features like “My Plan” that deliver essential reading material and a daily task to complete. The guidance and material center around various cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) related techniques.

#4 Stay active

Staying active is important for everyone. It brings multiple physical and mental health benefits. It can profoundly impact your mood by boosting self-confidence, helping to clear and organize your thoughts, and reducing stress, anxiety, and symptoms of depression.

We’ve talked a lot about the mental impact of a late-life crisis, but it can also affect your physical health. You might notice physical changes, such as weight loss or weight gain. Regular physical activity promotes weight maintenance and will keep your body fit, strong, and healthy.

Even working out twice a week is sufficient to bring you advantages. Try switching up your routine by partaking in different activities throughout the week. For example, you could go for a brisk walk at the start of the week, a swim in the m, then go cycling or running on the weekend.

#5 Build healthy habits

Picking up a healthy habit is an excellent way to focus on the positive aspects of midlife.

Any time is a good time to make healthy changes. It doesn’t have to be major changes – you can start small and gradually build up long-term habits. A good place to start is your diet. You could try eating more fruits and vegetables, drinking more water, and cutting out refined foods.

Other examples include cycling to work instead of driving, creating a good sleep routine, and managing stress with mindfulness strategies like yoga and meditation. Now is the time to focus on your own needs, so think about the areas of your life that you would like to improve.

#6 Spend less time on your phone

Smartphones are great for contacting friends, viewing photos, keeping in touch with distant relatives, and acquiring updates on your loved ones. You can also benefit from specialized mental health apps, like the Sensa app, that help you manage and take control of your thoughts.

However, excessive phone use can be detrimental to your mental health. Social media is a known trigger for mental health problems, and not just in younger adults. Research shows that older adults using social media regularly are at greater risk of developing depression.

Furthermore, constant pressure to check your phone and frequently respond to messages can cause stress and anxiety. Spending less time on your phone gives you a break and a chance to feel present. Go outside, practice your hobby, and communicate with others in person.

#7 Talk with a therapist

Feeling different in midlife is a normal part of human development, but that doesn’t make it any easier. It can awaken many emotions and take a considerable toll on your well-being. It’s an adjustment process that won’t last forever, but you can benefit from seeking professional help.

Talking with a therapist can help you open up about your problems. They can provide guidance, support, and effective methods to help you adjust to midlife. Knowing that you don’t have to face your emotions alone can boost your healing journey. 

How to Help Someone Going Through a Midlife Crisis

It can come as a shock if a close friend or family member displays signs of a midlife crisis. You might notice changes in their behavior or character that you have never seen before. It can be challenging to address the situation and even more challenging to know what to do next.

First of all, it’s valuable to recognize the possible signs that they are going through a midlife crisis. From there, you can decide on the best course of action. Common signs include:

  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Feelings of emptiness and lack of purpose
  • Feelings of unfulfillment and disappointment with life
  • A new obsession with looks or neglect of personal hygiene
  • Obsessive thoughts about life and mortality
  • Intense nostalgia and obsessive thoughts about the past
  • Altered sleep patterns, such as lack of sleep or excessive sleep
  • Increased alcohol or drug intake
  • Impulsive and self-destructive behavior

The important thing to remember is that showing the person support can help them handle the new emotions that come with midlife. There are lots of ways you can offer support to your friend. Below are some tips to support someone experiencing a midlife crisis.

  • Recognize the warning signs, such as a bad mood and symptoms of depression
  • Provide a safe, open space for the person to talk
  • Encourage honesty
  • Don’t pass judgment – you want them to feel safe and secure
  • Support them in working toward their goals, be it a career change, finding a new house, or organizing finances

What Triggers a Midlife Crisis?

A midlife crisis is a form of age-related distress that can result from various life stressors. Concerns about growing older may arise from a minor or major event. Triggers of a midlife crisis vary between individuals, and no singular or exact cause affects everyone.

Among the most common triggers are the following:

  • A significant life event, such as the death of a parent
  • Changing family dynamics
  • Empty nest syndrome – a form of grief that parents experience when their children leave home
  • Loss of a successful career
  • Illness or health scares

What Age Is a Midlife Crisis?

A midlife crisis can occur in middle-aged adults, usually between the ages of 40 and 60. Some people may experience signs of a midlife crisis a few years earlier or later. The midlife years are considered a pivotal time in life as it falls between the period of growth and decline.

A midlife crisis is not a mental health diagnosis, and it doesn’t happen to every middle-aged person. It can also be tricky to differentiate whether your feelings indicate a midlife crisis or are signs of other mental health issues, such as depression, which can develop at any age.

Depression and midlife crisis share some common symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, difficulty concentrating, low mood, and low self-esteem. It’s a good idea to discuss your feelings with a healthcare professional to rule out possible mental illness and obtain advice.

A Word From a Psychologist

A midlife crisis is described as a shift in identity as you reach middle age.

It is characterized by inner turmoil and a desire to change your life. It can make you feel dissatisfied, bored, unfulfilled, and unsure of your life’s purpose. It may lead a person to engage in erratic behavior. An example could be a middle-aged man buying a flashy sports car.

A midlife crisis can trigger thoughts about old age and death, resulting in obsessive thoughts about your own mortality. It is common in both men and women and is ultimately a distressing time.

It’s normal to reassess your life, especially when you reach a certain age and feel disappointed. A helpful way to handle a midlife crisis is to focus on making positive changes. From career changes to buying your dream house, there are many ways you can use this time to refresh.

Top tips include connecting with friends, staying active, and creating new habits that benefit you. Practicing self-care with a good diet, sleep routine, and regular physical activity will go a long way in improving your mood. It’s essential that you take the time to do things you enjoy.

There is no set time for how long a midlife crisis will last. If you can’t come to terms with the changes you are facing, it’s vital to seek support. Your doctor can advise you on coping methods and offer professional guidance to help prevent your mental health from deteriorating.

Conclusion

Midlife crisis has a bad reputation. However, it is possible to turn the experience into a positive one. Instead of focusing on your negative thoughts, consider ways to improve. You can make positive changes and create a new lifestyle that brings you happiness.

If you feel trapped and can’t break free from your thoughts, it’s important to speak with your doctor. Experiencing changes in your middle years is entirely normal, but seeking support is beneficial. You can then tackle these new stressors and move forward with your life.

Sensa Health
Your calm mind assistant
  • Lessons based on the CBT method
  • Mood journal
  • Challenges & self-improvement activities
  • Quick relief function
  • Assessments to help you grow
Our rating:
4.5
Start Free Quiz Now
HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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