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Published on February 27, 2019

8 Tips for Coping with Anxiety During the Midlife Crisis

8 Tips for Coping with Anxiety During the Midlife Crisis

Let’s face it: having anxiety sucks. It’s stressful to constantly worry about stuff that may or may not happen in the future.

What if you’re coping with anxiety while also dealing with a midlife crisis? If you’re in such a situation, it’s very important to know what you’re in for. Dealing with one of these two problems on its own is already challenging enough, but combine them together and you’ve got a pretty serious storm incoming.

If you are here and can already see the dark clouds approaching, then you’ll definitely want to read these 10 actionable tips on how to better deal with your anxiety during your midlife crisis.

1. Realize That Having a Midlife Crisis Is Normal

Have you ever heard of the U-curve in happiness?

It might actually be one of the reasons you’re reading this article right now. See, happiness has been researched a lot, and the U-curve has been a consistent observation in a lot of these studies.

I think the best example of this U-curve was observed in the Gallup World Poll survey data. This is the biggest worldwide survey on happiness, and it’s published every year. In a 2016 paper, Carol Graham and Julia Ruiz Pozuelo found that the U-curve in happiness can be observed in almost every country.[1]

This U-curve is really simple to understand. Your happiness is likely going to reach rock-bottom levels during your midlife crisis:

    What does this U-curve have to do with your anxiety or your midlife crisis?

    Well, it’s simple:

    A midlife crisis is much more common than you might think. Having said that, let’s dive right into the second tip.

    2. Know That You’re Not the Only One That’s Struggling

    We are all pilots of our life. The analogy is that we are piloting a plane filled with passengers (think about your family, friends and significant other).

    What is your main objective as the pilot?

    To give the impression to your passengers that you are in full control and that everything is going smooth and efficient.

    The thing is, we are all pilots of our own flights, and we all hit some turbulence every now and then.

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    As good pilots, we are taught not to blow the alarm and initiate emergency procedures every time we encounter some turbulence. No way, we need to provide our passengers with a nice and relaxing flight. We think we need to create the impression that everything is under control.

    It’s important to know that everybody is a pilot and that everybody is trying to create the impression that everything is under control. In reality, however, it’s a fact that every pilot will bump into some turbulence during their flights (their life). That’s what causes this U-shape in happiness.

    Just like you, others are also hesitant to show their anxiety and worries to the public. I’m willing to bet you’re reading this article right now, without having told anybody else that you’re dealing with these challenges.

    The thing is, denying your midlife crisis doesn’t make your anxiety go away.

    My tip to you is to know that you’re not alone, and that a lot of people all over the world are facing the same feelings of anxiety during a midlife crisis. Therefore, it’s good to open up about your anxiety to people that are close to you.

    3. Don’t Compare Yourself to the Person That You’re “Supposed to Be”

    This one is extremely important. Some people spend their whole lives trying to fulfill expectations, whether they come from their parents, their peers or society. They work their asses of every day, and end up feeling miserable.

    Why?

    Because they are trying to meet expectations that don’t fit their passions or their purpose in life.

    It’s important to stop comparing yourself to those expectations.

    A friend of mine has studied medicine for 8 years now. Her parents applied her to study medicine and she just went along with it without being critical of this decision. At this point, she’s slowly becoming aware that she’s only working hard because that’s what others are expecting of her.

    She recently told me that she’s unhappy.

    Are you finding yourself in a similar boat? Then stop comparing yourself to the person that you’re “supposed to be” and start being the person that you want to be.

    4. Find out What You Really Want in Life

    What do you want out of life?

    This question is very common, but makes you think about what you truly want. Answers are usually a variation or combination of the following:

    • Success
    • Feeling loved
    • Having a positive impact
    • Fortune

    If you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking:

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    I want everything you just said!”

    It makes sense, right? Who doesn’t want to feel loved, or be successful?

    I want to challenge you to think further.

    Why do you want all these things out of life? I’m willing to bet you’ll come up with an answer along the lines of: “I just want to be happy”.

    You see, these goals in our lives are only there because we have reason to believe that we’ll be happy when we actually reach them.

    However, what a lot of people don’t realize is that you should already be happy when you’re chasing these goals!

    I’ve been tracking my happiness for over 5 years now. Before I started to track my happiness, I wanted – among others – to become rich and financially free. Why? Because I was working a job that I absolutely hated.

    During the last 5 years, my happiness has moved quite a bit (this is an understatement).

    Throughout this time, I constantly forced myself to think about these questions:

    What do I want out of life? What makes me happy?

    I’ve learned that it’s not so much that I wanted to be rich. I just wanted to not have to work a job that I didn’t like. Instead of focusing on a vague pipe-dream (quitting my horrible job with enough money in the bank), I focused on actively steering my life in the best direction right away.

    What I did?

    I steered my career in a different direction, despite the lower pay. I focused on being happy now, instead of only planning for my future happiness.

    What I’m trying to say is that it’s truly the journey that matters much more than the destination. You can spend your whole life working towards something that you think you want (being rich, successful or having a great career), while you should really focus on being happy now!

    Life is just too short to only focus on eventually reaching happiness. You have to start loving what you do NOW. Don’t continue to postpone your happiness.

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    5 Get out of Your Comfort Zone

    It’s usually when we find ourselves in a difficult situation – without being able to fall back to your usual life – that we truly find out who we are and what we want.

    It’s really simple when you think about it. You only know who you are, what you’re capable of and what you are made of when you’re tested.

    A lot of us (me including) spent our career just going with the flow. We don’t question the choices that we make, or the ones that are made for us. We simply nod and move in whatever direction our managers, colleagues and friends want us to go.

    As a result, almost everybody will reach a phase during which you find out that what you’ve been doing isn’t something that you want to continue.

    My advice? Take a step outside your comfort zone, and try something that you’ve never done before:

    • Set a different goal. Instead of focusing on your career, spend time on a new hobby instead.
    • Go on a multi-day hike on your own.
    • If you haven’t already, open up about your anxiety with friends or family.

    It’s important to try something you’ve never done before. It doesn’t have to be something drastic. You can only find what you’re missing if you try something new. This article can also help you:

    Is It Really Better to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone?

    This shares a lot of common ground with tip 3. We have to break free from who we are “supposed” to be.

    6. Be Grateful for What You Already Have

    Think about what you’ve already accomplished, rather than the things that you still want to do.

    It’s important to realize what great things you already have going in your life. Think of your accomplishments, the people you live with, the lives you have a positive influence on. These are all great things that you should feel grateful for.

    The human race is difficult to please. We are constantly looking for more, without already appreciating what we have. This “greed” can keep us from being happy.

    My tip to you is to focus on the good things that you’ve got going on when you are anxious about your midlife crisis. Remember that a pessimist sees the negatives or the difficulty in every opportunity whereas an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.

    You need to try and tackle this challenging time from a positive angle. Focus on what you already have instead of what you’re currently missing, and go from there.

    Here’re some inspirations for you to stay grateful every day:

    60 Things To Be Thankful For In Life

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    7. Keep a Journal of Your Journey

    If you still have the opinion that journaling is for little girls, then you should wake up.

    I’ve been journaling for over 5 years now, and the amount of knowledge I’ve gained during this time is priceless. Keeping a journal of what’s eating me has given me a lot more self-awareness, to the point where I was better able to navigate through the challenging times. This has happened more often than I can remember.

    Journaling is one of the most underrated things you can do to get to know yourself better. So when you’re done reading this article, I’d really suggest you to write down what you’re dealing with.

    • What are you anxious about?
    • What are you unhappy with?
    • What do you want out of life?
    • How do you want to get there?

    These are all critical questions that you can answer in your journal.

    Whenever you’re feeling anxious again, you can open up your journal and add your latest thoughts in there as well. Or you can reread your old thoughts in order to better understand what’s causing your anxiety.

    Getting started with journaling is not hard. You’ll soon find out that a lot of different people find value and purpose by journaling.[2]

    8. See a Therapist

    This might not be the tip you are hoping to see here, but it’s dead-simple:

    Therapy can help you in facing your anxiety during a midlife crisis.

    You should not feel too proud to go see a therapist. The negative stigma of seeing a therapist should not stop you from finding the help you need.

    Think about it: there’s no taboo on seeing a doctor when you are in physical pain, right? Then you definitely shouldn’t be anxious about going to therapy for something that your emotionally struggling with.

    Bottling up your feelings is the last thing that you want to do right now.

    If you find a therapist that you can openly share your problems with and one that understands you, then just go for it.

    Final Thoughts

    The most important thing to remember when dealing with anxiety during your midlife crisis is to know that you’re not alone. The negative feelings that you’re having are normal and a lot of other people are experiencing them as well. In order to better deal with these feelings, I want you to:

    • Stop comparing yourself to what you are supposed to be.
    • Find out what you really want out of life.
    • Get out of your comfort zone for a while, and try something different. For example, go on a multi-day trip by yourself or open up about your anxiety to your family or friends.
    • Face your anxiety by focusing on the positive things that you already have around you. Don’t just look at the negative side of your situation.
    • Keep a journal and write down your thoughts. Find out what you want out of life and write down how you want to get there. You can then later fall back to your journal when you’re anxious again. Don’t bottle up your emotions.
    • When you continue to be anxious about your midlife crisis, consider speaking to a therapist.

    More Resources About Dealing with Midlife Crisis

    Featured photo credit: Steven Spassov via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Hugo Huyer

    Author at Tracking Happiness, lifelong happiness tracker and passionate about all things mental health and well-being.

    The Key to Happiness and Leading a Fulfilling Life Stuck in a Rut? 6 Steps to Break Free and Live a Happy Life Again 8 Tips for Coping with Anxiety During the Midlife Crisis

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    Last Updated on May 21, 2019

    How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

    How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

    For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

    If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

    Example 1

    You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

    You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

    In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

    Example 2

    You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

    People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

    You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

    Example 3

    You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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    The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

    Example 4

    You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

    Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

    If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

    Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

    • Understand your own communication style
    • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
    • Communicate with precision and care
    • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

    1. Understand Your Communication Style

    To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

    In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

    Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

    2. Learn Others Communication Styles

    Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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    If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

    “How do you prefer to receive information?”

    This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

    To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

    3. Exercise Precision and Care

    A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

    On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

    Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

    I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

    I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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    In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

    The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

    Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

    4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

    Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

    In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

    “Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

    Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

    Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

    It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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    It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

    It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

    Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

    Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

    The Bottom Line

    When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

    I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

    More Articles About Effective Communication

    Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

    Reference

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