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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

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.

    13 Ways to Seize the Moment and Enjoy Life More How to Think Positive and Eliminate Negative Thoughts 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 The Key to Happiness and Leading a Fulfilling Life

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    Last Updated on January 21, 2021

    5 Powerful Self-Care Ideas for When Life Is Stressful

    5 Powerful Self-Care Ideas for When Life Is Stressful

    Stress affects everyone, invariably in different ways. Regardless of how stress shows up in your life, when it does, it takes over, making it difficult to stay in the present moment or show gratitude for what and who we have in our life. In the eye of the stress storm, everything is tossed around into oblivion, and self-care ideas go out the window.

    However, this is the moment when self-care is the most important. When you notice that you’re struggling with stress, anxiety, or powerful emotions, it’s time to get back to a sense of balance by showing yourself love and compassion.

    How Does Stress Show Up?

    On a physical scale, stress tends to be behind many of our typical ailments, such as headaches, insomnia, muscle tension, or body aches and pain.[1] When we’re in stressful situations, our body activates our fight-or-flight response through the stress hormone, cortisol.

    According to the American Institute of Stress, when the body is in this mode due to stress, “the body’s sympathetic nervous system is activated due to the sudden release of hormones. The sympathetic nervous system stimulates the adrenal glands, triggering the release of catecholamines, which include adrenaline and noradrenaline. This results in an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate.”[2]

    While our fight-or-flight response is extremely helpful when we’re in situations that risk our survival, not every situation is that dire. However, the body doesn’t know how to differentiate between such scenarios.

    Rather, we become accustomed to seeing every stressful situation as life-threatening, and we become locked into this fight-or-flight response automatically. This causes us to burn out because our body is constantly fighting or fleeing from threats that are not causing us any real harm.

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    On a mental and emotional scale, stress affects your thoughts, feelings, and ultimately your behavior. Everything is interconnected. When stress takes a toll on our bodies, this has a domino effect on how we process our thoughts and feelings. Therefore, it is not uncommon to see correlations between depression and anxiety when it comes to dealing with stress.

    Self-Care Ideas to Combat Stress

    Below are five self-care ideas for combating stress in your life. Consider implementing them into your daily routine for the best results.

    1. Start a Brain Dump Writing Exercise

    When you’re overwhelmed with thoughts, it can become very difficult to stay present and focused. This could affect you at work, in school, or in your relationships. It’s as if your mind were filled to the brim with thoughts that are constantly competing for your attention. If left unattended, this can affect your performance or your state of being, so it’s important to turn to self-care ideas in these moments.

    One exercise to get this under control is called a brain dump, and it’s exactly what it sounds like. Start by getting comfortable with a pen and paper or your favorite journal. Without any special formatting or introduction, just start writing any and all thoughts that come up.

    Consider your paper a blank canvas onto which you’re going to spill every thought, no matter how small or unimportant. This can look like a laundry list, a jumble of words, or a paragraph.

    Don’t focus on how it looks or how well it’s organized. The idea is to give your thoughts an exit. Once they’re on paper, they’re no longer swimming in your head for attention.

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    Once you have them written down, leave them as they are. We have a tendency to want to fix our thoughts. Instead, allow them to simply exist as they are—they’re not right or wrong. Consider coming back to this exercise daily or whenever you feel like you have a lot on your mind.

    2. Sweat It out

    There is nothing more therapeutic than moving the physical body when it feels the weight of stress. Energetically, we carry our day in our body, mostly in our neck, shoulders, and hips. If we’ve had a particularly difficult day, that energy is going to feel tense and unsettling. This is why it’s so important to move and really break a sweat!

    According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America[3]:

    “Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem.”

    Find what exercise regimen works for you, and commit to it for a few days per week for your mental and physical health. Scientists have also found that even 10-15 minutes of aerobic exercise can have a tremendous effect on your body. Go for a run, take a spin class or a power yoga class, or dance the stress away in Zumba. Whatever gets your heart rate up and breaks a sweat is one of the perfect self-care ideas to keep the stress away.

    3. Seek the Care of a Therapist

    Sometimes writing out our thoughts and feelings doesn’t seem quite enough. This is common and to be expected. After all, we are complex human beings who want to understand and process our emotions on a deeper level. This is why spending time in a regular therapy session is so beneficial!

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    In the presence of a professional, we can open up about what stressful situations we’re going through. We don’t have to keep our emotions bottled up, and we know that our honesty will be protected and safeguarded.

    Additionally, when we’re feeling stressed, we often want to simply vent and get things off of our chest. Having someone on the receiving end who will simply listen and hold space is a truly healing gift. We can often leave the session feeling more empowered, seen, and offloaded of the stress we brought in.

    Lastly, we may be able to receive guidance from our therapist on a particular situation we’re struggling with. Having someone else’s perspective on something we’re too emotionally close to can be just the right solution and a great addition to our self-care routine.

    Here are more self-care ideas from a therapist: Self Care Tips During Difficult Times (A Therapist’s Advice)

    4. Interrupt Your Day

    When it comes to self-care ideas, this may seem like a derailing technique, but give it a shot! Interrupting your day means introducing something entirely new or random into a routine that is very monotonous or typical.

    If your work or school day is the same sequence of events every single day, bringing in an interruption can be quite conducive to your productivity and creativity. This can look like pausing in the middle of the day for a yoga stretch at your desk or in your office. It could be playing your favorite playlist in-between meetings or taking a walk outside for lunch. Not only does this stir up new energy for your day, but it can also help you de-stress

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    As I said above, when we’re too close to a situation or conflict, we have a harder time breaking away. We’re so emotionally and mentally invested that we don’t see how that proximity is affecting our health. So, interrupt yourself when you’re feeling stress coming on, and do something fun, random, and refreshing to feel good.

    5. Get Some Energy Work Done

    Energy work is anything that is being done to improve the circulation and energetic flow of the body. This could be a massage, a Reiki session, chiropractic adjustment, or acupuncture[4].

    Moving the body helps move the energy that is blocked or stuck. This is why exercise is so important. However, sometimes we need a session where that work is done for us by a licensed professional.

    In such treatments, we have the luxury to relax and receive the benefits of the treatment, making it a beautiful way to squeeze in self-care!

    You can find even more stress management techniques in the following video:

    Final Thoughts

    Stress is, unfortunately, a common part of every life. It affects everyone, but to what extent it affects you is personal. One thing is for sure, and that is that stress has a tremendous effect on our physical, mental, and emotional state.

    This is why regular exercise is so important, as well as mental stimulation and emotional release. These self-care ideas won’t necessarily guard you from ever feeling stressed again, but they will certainly help you manage it better and offer amazing health benefits along the way.

    More Self-Care Ideas

    Featured photo credit: Alisa Anton via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Mayo Clinic: Stress Management
    [2] The American Institute of Stress: How the Fight or Flight Response Works
    [3] Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Physical Activity Reduces Stress
    [4] Medical Acupuncture: Does Acupuncture Reduce Stress Over Time? A Clinical Heart Rate Variability Study in Hypertensive Patients

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