What is a “Mid-Life Crisis”?
The approach to middle age often is accompanied by heightened awareness of our own mortality. The perception that life is half over can bring about a period of profound self-assessment, often accompanied by feelings of anxiety, fear or depression.
You may experience disappointment in what you have not accomplished or experienced on your life to this point. This often leads to certain behavior changes and shifts in goals and priorities.
Many people manage to get through their mid-life transition without too much damage to their pocketbook or personal life. For others though, it can be a difficult and deeply destabilizing journey that disrupts the overall balance of their lives.
What are the signs of a Mid-Life Crisis?
The stereotypes of what happens during a mid-life crisis often include things like buying an expensive sports car, leaving your spouse for a younger partner, suddenly quitting your job, or taking other big risks. While these might seem far-fetched, they actually aren’t all that uncommon for people going through their mid-life transition. Here are a few other signs and symptoms.
Changing Thought Patterns
If you are approaching or in a mid-life crisis you may find yourself thinking–even obsessing–about issues that were not on your radar screen earlier. These might include:
- Increased worries about your health
- Unfavorably comparing yourself, your life situation and accomplishments to others
- Preoccupation with deep existential questions
- Excessive worry about the future
- Regrets about past decisions and “the road not traveled”
- Fears about how you will manage in your later years
- Fantasies and fears about death
Sudden Changes in Behaviors
Adults who are going through a mid-life crisis are often tempted to make drastic changes to their behaviors and habits. This is a sweeping symptom, but an important one to recognize.
People going through this transition often make sudden and drastic changes. They want things to change quickly because it helps them to cope with the idea of getting older.
Unfortunately, these sudden changes can lead to irritability and mood swings in certain individuals. For some, it can seem to change their entire personality.
These sudden changes and impulsive decisions can destroy relationships, create financial hardship and wreak havoc with their lives in other ways.
Fears about Your Appearance
As you try to cope with the changes of getting older, you might become overly concerned about your appearance. You may find yourself becoming obsessed with “looking young”.
Some people may go to great lengths and expense in the frantic quest for a more youthful appearance. For instance, some might spend a fortune on a new wardrobe, splurge on expensive cosmetic treatments or plastic surgery, or start a new radical fitness routine.
Mid-life Crisis can take a toll on your relationships
You may not think you’re “getting older”, but when you see your long-time friends beginning to look older, it becomes an unsettling reflection of yourself.
People who are having a hard time coping with the passage into mid-life may begin to shun their old friends. They try to surround themselves with younger people.
The desire to feel younger by moving in younger circles can even extend to replacing their spouse.
As a result, they may find themselves feeling lonely or awkward and out-of-place within their new social circle. They may begin to feel deep regret and remorse over the loss of once nourishing friendships.
Emotional Signs and Symptoms
While each person is unique, some of the more common signs and symptoms include:
- Feeling anxious or depressed
- Getting bored easily
- Turning to drugs or alcohol
As you can see, some of these symptoms are more serious than others.
Depression is a common feeling for those in the throes of a mid-life crisis. It can be harmful to a person’s psyche and result in unhealthy behaviors. It’s easy to get caught in self-defeating thoughts and spiral downward, but this is not inevitable.
How Can You Deal With a Mid-Life Crisis?
Even if you are struggling with a mid-life crisis, you can get through it successfully.
The most important thing you can do to cope with the ordeal is to acknowledge that you’re struggling. Once you’re able to do that, you can openly and honestly find a way to get through it.
Making peace with your natural aging process is the key to happiness in the second half of life. It also is helpful to identify the gifts and opportunities of life in its maturity.
Getting through a mid-life crisis on your own isn’t impossible. But, it does require you to slow down and think before making any sudden or radical decisions.
One of the best things you can do is to have a support system in place. Talk to people you trust before you make a radical change.
When a Therapist is your best choice
If you are struggling with your mid-life transition or simply want to make it a thrilling new chapter of your life, it can be extremely helpful to seek the assistance of a Life Coach or psychotherapist.
Which is the best choice for you?
If you are suffering with mood swings, depression, anxiety, fear or the disruption of important relationships, psychotherapy may be your best choice for mitigating these symptoms.
By talking to a therapist, you can identify and work out the underlying cause of those feelings. You can achieve significant relief from its emotional symptoms and work through your mid-life transition in a more positive, productive way.
When a Coach is your best choice
If you are fortunate enough to sidestep these emotional challenges, Life Coaching may be your best choice.
A coach can help you to explore your concerns and organize your thoughts about where you are heading in life. By talking things over with a coach you can avoid making some of the common mistakes and missteps that are so common among people
More importantly, by taking the time to explore the positive possibilities for your future steps with a seasoned coach, you can identify options that will give you a strong sense of life purpose and vitality.
A coach can help you to sort out the options available to you in your new stage of life. She can help you to examine your strengths, values, and options and help you to design a concrete action plan to take your life forward in rewarding new paths.
Your coach can help you to identify the concrete steps needed to create a satisfying and energizing life going forward. She can provide you with ongoing support and encouragement as you execute your action plan for your new life.
As both a Certified Professional Coach and a Psychotherapist, I would be happy to help you with your mid-life transition. I firmly believe that you can turn your Mid-Life Crisis into a Mid-Life Miracle.