We used to think of men when we talked about a midlife crisis. Now we know women also suffer through them, but the signs look different.
Among Generation X women, midlife becomes a time when exhaustion gets the better of us. Often sandwiched between two generations who need our care, we collapse under the weight of duty.
We also come from a cohort where almost half of our parents divorced which created instability and self-reliance. Our mothers entered the workforce before child care was normalized, so we spent a lot of time caring for ourselves.
That’s why when I got shingles in my 40s I decided to make some big changes in my life. Those shifts may have looked like a midlife crisis on the outside, but they saved my health and sanity.
A midlife crisis is a call to change. It’s your body and soul’s demand that you pay attention to yourself. So, how do you know if you’re going through a midlife crisis? Here are some signs.A midlife crisis is a call to change. It's your body and soul's demand that you pay attention to yourself. Click To Tweet
1. Weight gain
It’s a myth that we must gain weight as we grow older. Barring any medical issues, weight gain is a red flag of discontent.
You could be eating to comfort yourself because you’re not finding comfort elsewhere. Drinking alcohol to release stress is another surefire way to increase weight by consuming empty calories.
2. Losing interest
You’ve lost interest in things that used to excite you, like hobbies or creative outlets. You no longer feel bothered to get together with friends or pursue your interests.
You do what you must to stay afloat, and are too tired to do more. So your life has become filled with responsibilities and little else.
3. You feel like a failure
During midlife we take stock of all the dreams we had that we’ve yet to accomplish. We might feel like it’s too late to do the things we’d planned.
We become filled with regret and mourn over lost opportunities. We compare ourselves unfavorably with others our age.
4. Physical illness
If you’ve been putting your own needs aside for too long, your body will eventually demand your consideration. This often comes in the form of sickness and disease.If you've been putting your own needs aside for too long, your body will eventually demand your consideration. Click To Tweet
For me it arrived as a case of shingles. For others it could be headaches, stomach pains, or even autoimmune diseases.
5. You feel old
Even though life is barely half over, it feels all over to you. If you’re single you’ve lost hope in remarrying or finding a partner. You think it’s impossible to start a new career or even make a pivot.
Or you may have stopped dressing in ways that show off your style, and started dressing and acting more “your age”. You put less effort into your appearance thinking it no longer matters.
6. You get existential
The question, “Is this all there is?” follows you around. You feel there should be more to life but you’re not sure what. You have the sense that life failed to deliver in the way you thought it would.
What to do in a midlife crisis
Because midlife crises lack an official diagnosis, all these signs are subjective. You may have others you would add, or have trouble relating to the ones here.
Regardless, one thing midlife crises share is that you ignore them at your peril. They’re calling out to you from a deep part of yourself that refuses to be ignored any longer.
Overcoming a midlife crisis means taking stock of your life and asking if your needs and wants are part of the equation. That doesn’t mean running off, ending your marriage, or exploding your life.Overcoming a midlife crisis means taking stock of your life and asking if your needs and wants are part of the equation. Click To Tweet
But it does mean getting honest with yourself about what you need. And determining that you will take steps to get those needs met. That means setting healthy boundaries and taking time for yourself.
Not in a superficial spa day kind of way. But in ways that fill your tank and remind you who you are outside of your roles and responsibilities. This will require hard work and disappointing some people.
Ask yourself how you would feel if your life were the same in a year from now. If the thought makes you want to cry into your coffee, it’s time to make a change.