The forties are a time when the midlife crisis hits you. Most folks find perceptible changes in their bodies, discover that they are no longer youthful and are beginning to resemble their parents. Strands of silver have begun to appear in their thinning hair and unseemly bulges become evident.
There are different reactions to these signs of being middle-aged from all kinds of people. While some freakout and go into a frenzy, others take it in their stride and age gracefully. Midlife crisis usually hits you in your mid-forties and can continue well into 55.
If you’re wondering what is a midlife crisis, you’ll see yourself go through a lot of changes when you’re middle-aged. It is a manifestation of psychological changes often triggered by the physical changes your body begins to show at this stage of life.
There are always signs that a midlife crisis has hit a person. People going through midlife crisis keep looking back at their life, gripped by the feeling that their best years are behind them and they haven’t achieved enough in their prime.
They see the future as futility and feel that nothing to look forward to. Suddenly the reality of one’s mortality stares in the face. That’s when people want to feel younger, dress up more, want to keep young company and do things that are uncharacteristic of them and it’s their spouses who understand these changes the most.
Midlife Crisis – 10 Effective Tips From Experience To Handle It
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Midlife crisis is akin to middle-aged disillusionment. In many ways, it is similar to a quarter-life crisis, the only difference being the stage of life at which the two hit you.
There are stages of midlife crisis and those who survive them all emerge much superior. One of the most daunting effects of stage of life is the risk it poses to the stability of one’s relationships. For instance, marriages often find it hard to survive a midlife crisis because it leads to extramarital affairs.
I went through my midlife crisis too and I must say it was a very trying time because while my hormones were going haywire I was mentally becoming insecure trying to hold to the last shards of my young life. But the whole phase taught me a few things and I am going to share those with you:
1. Find new hobbies and interests
If you had married in your early twenties, your children would most likely have grown into adults who have their own lives, careers, and perhaps, even families to focus on. While it can be a matter of great joy to enjoy the company of your grandchildren, it is important to focus on your own interests and develop them.
Many people I know have plunged into the secrets of organic gardening and farming. Athletic men and women take to running marathons or learning yoga. Some learn to paint, embroider or crochet, skills they learned as children but are now free to pursue in real earnest.
Basically, do what you’ve been dying to do all your life! Make these years of your life memorable.
Related Reading: Is The 7-Year Itch In A Relationship Real?
2. Support your spouse’s insecurities
My partner retired as a CEO of an MNC and from an 18-hour hectic work schedule, not to mention constant traveling. So being confined to the house was driving him nuts. It was driving me crazy too, so we planned on doing something together.
We joined a dance class and learned Salsa. We also converted our garage into a modern art gallery where aspiring and established artists could display their work and use it as a studio too. This brought us a lot of joy, and the feeling of uselessness slowly vanished.
3. Find the inner ‘ME’ and learn to love it
I joined a workshop on transformation therapy that was called “The Power Within”. As part of the exploration process, we were encouraged to rediscover and nurture the ‘inner child’. It was very gratifying to find, embrace, and love the little 5-year old I was, once upon a time.
This workshop was actually a transforming experience for me. I am glad I wanted to try something new and enrolled in this class to get over the midlife crisis that was also affecting my marriage. Doing something new and learning new skills is the best way to get over a midlife crisis.
Social activities and coming together with people of all age groups help immensely too. I joined a book club and often visited a friend who conducted cooking classes. It was really enjoyable and I discovered myself anew.
4. Treat your adult children as friends
For the longest time, everything that spurted out of my mouth was a string of commands. Stop that! Do this! Don’t mess with that! Which were then followed with another sting of advice or admonishments, as the case would be.
As soon as my kids became teenagers, they seemed to have switched on to a new pattern of behavior. They no longer heard the “old mom” and instead responded only to a coherent, mild-mannered mother who listened and offered only suggestions. So just like that one day, I became their best friend.
If your kids ever ask you what is a midlife crisis, tell them this – it’s your transformation from a parent to a friend. This attitude to parenting also made life less stressful for me when I was going through my midlife crisis. Re-alignment of my parenting techniques helped me greatly.
Related Reading: Dating In Your 40s – 15 Tips To Do It Right
5. Quit competing with the younger folk
My mother taught me this. With the arrival of her 23-year-old daughter-in-law, who could run up and down the length and breadth of the rubber-estate, my mom could only trudge along. She quickly slipped into the role of the dowager, got involved in social issues and the church, and let other things fall around her.
When you are hit by a midlife crisis there is a tendency to feel that you need to look, feel and act younger. Being middle-aged may make you feel insecure. That is when all the trouble starts. If you can accept your age and take life as it comes much of your job is done.
6. Cultivate the sisterhood bond
For a lot of women, marriage, work and family take away so much energy that they fail to keep in touch with other women in their lives. Come midlife crisis, and it hits you that everything is coming apart at the hinges, and it is comforting to have the company of the old sisterhood, of school and college girlfriends.
The nurturing conversations, the group outings for chai and chaat, even the quiet walks in the park. You need your girl gang back to deal with the stresses of being middle-aged. These are all very calming, soothing and provide comfort during the getting-used-to-old-age phase of life.
7. Learn to be alone and enjoy solitude
For a lot of people learning to be alone is a terrifying prospect. After being around family, colleagues, parties and people for nearly decades, it can be unnerving to find yourself within the four walls of your house, and that too completely alone.
This is the best time to learn to meditate, to enjoy the inner silence, to forgive people and situations in your life. This art of enjoying solitude will turn out to be one of the best tools to handle any crisis that you may come across in life.
8. Explore the world
A lot of middle-aged people take traveling as a way to avoid a midlife crisis or cope with one. At this stage of life, you’re likely to be financially secure and free of all your worldly responsibilities. There are no more mortgage payments or children’s school schedule to factor in while planning a holiday.
The world can truly, and finally, be your oyster. So, just pack a bag, take your partner’s hand and go.
Be it the sandy beaches of Hawaii or the snowy mountains of the Himalayas, traveling will help you connect with yourself better. The experience of meeting new people from different cultures will enrich your personality and life alike.
9. Get creative
What is a midlife crisis and how can you deal with it? Well, when you’re middle-aged, you start to feel insecure and may even feel unhappy with yourself. So this is the time when you should start doing things for yourself to counter all these negative emotions.
Read more books, explore new genres of art and music, watch movies that have been on your list for ages, and write more. Get in touch with your creative side and let your emotions flow. Don’t be ashamed to talk about what you’re going through. Remember you are not alone.
Related Reading: 7 Signs Your Spouse Is Going Through A Midlife Crisis
10. Spend more time with your children
Chances are you have spent a good portion of your youth working in an office, often at the cost of spending quality time with your kids and family. Better late than never! Keep your schedule fluid to accommodate lunch dates and weekend outings with your children whenever they have the bandwidth for it.
However, remember that they’re at the stage of life where you used to be two decades back. They may have commitments and obligations that get in the way of their ability to spend time with you. Don’t begrudge them for not putting you first.
A midlife crisis can bring a lot of disillusionment. Now you know what are the stages of midlife crisis and its signs. How you navigate through a midlife crisis is entirely up to you. I’ve shared the lessons I learned from my midlife crisis in the hope that these help you sail through this trying time in life more effortlessly.