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Psychologists Find Quarter-Life Crisis Is the Hardest One in Our Lives

Psychologists Find Quarter-Life Crisis Is the Hardest One in Our Lives

We so often hear of the “mid-life crisis” — in TV shows, in jest, and in real life. But what about the lesser talked about crisis — the one of our mid twenties, our quarter life? Some may know it as the “saturn return”; others simply as the realization of turning 30 and that we are not “kids” anymore. But psychologists are saying that this particular crisis may actually be the most profound crisis point of our lives.

According to the Harvard Business Review researchers (as seen in graph below), there was a significant amount of stress that increased among thousands of test studies in their late twenties, or from the age of around 25. And even though the stress levels did keep rising through their 30s and 40s, the time in which those levels increased was significantly shorter than the rapid increase of stress of the quarter-life crisis time.

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    This graph indicates the steep incline of stress as it hits around the 25–34 mark. And although it shows clearly that the stress levels continue to rise before they again fall around the late 50s, the graph indicates that the incline is slower everywhere else but the late 20s.

    Negative Feelings and Wandering Mind

    Negative feelings decrease in your late 30s, signalling that our 30s is when we learn to deal with stress and cope in a positive way. Positive feelings nearly hit absolute bottom at the quarter-life mark, but afterward, they begin to constantly increase. General satisfaction with life also starts low in your 20s but increases from thereon in, leading psychologists to believe that the late twenties is the time to understand how we recognize and deal with our emotions in the best ways.

    The Five Phases of a Quarter-Life Crisis

    According to scientists there are five phases of a quarter-life crisis. These are:

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    Phase 1: Feeling as if you are living your life automatically and are powerless to stop it or regain control. You might feel trapped or unable to know which way to move or how you got where you are.

    Phase 2: A distinct creeping feeling that you want to “get out” or run for the hills and somehow change your life.

    Phase 3: Taking time out suddenly to explore the world, explore yourself, or “find yourself” as they say. Suddenly making flip decisions to leave whatever it is you are doing at that moment and to embark on a journey that helps you understand the crisis better.

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    Phase 4: Putting your life back together in a way that you actually want, rebuilding it in a new way.

    Phase 5: Developing fundamental ways to understand and perform better your new and developed choices. Having new commitments that better represent you and the things you really want.

    80% of people who went through such a crisis said that they came out the other side better. The quarter-life crisis can be the most astounding and profound time of your life in terms of making your life into what you want it to be — and trimming the fat from all unnecessary areas.

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    People deal with pain in a myriad of ways, but we should always use these times to better understand ourselves. How are we feeling? Why do we feel this way? What is within our own control? What is NOT in our control? How do we feel about ourselves? How does what we put out affect what we receive?

    These are the things we should be thinking about when we are dealing with our own happiness. And part of our happiness is determined by the autonomy that we have over our own choices and our own life. We must be the masters of our own destiny, and we do so by being inherently honest with ourselves and by truly listening to who we really are.

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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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