The dreaded mid-life crisis is both an exaggerated cliché and a serious personal challenge. Here you can find out what causes the crisis and how you can deal with it constructively.
The term “mid-life crisis” or “mid-life crisis” initially evokes clichéd associations in most people: men who suddenly buy sports cars that are far too expensive and women who completely change their self-image with the help of unusual hobbies and new clothes. Pop culture book and film comedies in particular take this cliché to the extreme again and again to entertain the audience.
However, the midlife crisis is one serious psychological crisis, which can be very distressing for those affected. It is most common between the ages of 35 and 55 and tends to affect men more than women. In an interview with GEO, psychologist Professor Pasqualina Perrig-Chiello explains that while women can also be affected by a midlife crisis, they are more likely to seek help than men because of gender-specific socialization.
Midlife Crisis: Causes
There can be many triggers for a midlife crisis. The most common include the following:
- the lack of sense of meaning and fulfillment in the job
- the departure of their own children from home
- health problems and chronic diseases
- Dissatisfaction in the partnership and marriage
According to Perrig-Chiello, the causes of a mid-life crisis unite the big question of what meaning of your own life. This question of meaning is particularly evident in three sub-areas:
- Does my work still feel meaningful?
- What’s the point of my relationship?
- Who am I without my daily role as a parent?
The dictionary also defines the mid-life crisis as a phase in the middle of life “in which someone critically rethinks their previous life” and “emotionally doubts it”, i.e. asks about its meaning.
Also not insignificant is the fact that the body changes more and more after the age of 40: According to the psychiatric specialist clinic association in Oberberg, for example, the testosterone level in men decreases, women produce less estrogen and slowly come into the menopause. The muscle mass decreases and the skin loses its elasticity. Due to the youthful ideal of beauty in our society, these physical changes put many people under pressure.
Symptoms of a Midlife Crisis
- The fear of not living your own life “right” and not having enough time to do so before you die is very stressful for people in the mid-life crisis. According to Professor Perrig-Chiello, this age-related dissatisfaction and feelings of anxiety can Burnout Symptoms, depressive moods or even depressions culminate.
- People in the midlife crisis also feel the need to radically change their previous life, which often leads to separations and divorces by previous partners.
- Another and ecologically questionable consequence of the mid-life crisis is the partial Excessive purchases of non-essential consumer goods such as cars, luxury cosmetics or consumer electronics. According to Psychology Today, the reason for this could be as follows: Because a fundamental change in their existence does not seem practically feasible to many in the midlife crisis, they try to redesign their identity with the help of consumer products and thus create meaning. According to the Gottfried Duttweiler Institute, the brain also releases dopamine when buying a new product – a messenger substance that provides a feeling of reward and happiness. The little dopamine rush can temporarily numb the anxiety associated with the midlife crisis.
Step 1 in Dealing with the Midlife Crisis: What Do I Want?
Does the above phase of life and its symptoms sound familiar to you? Do you often feel depressed, unsatisfied and tense? Do you question the meaningfulness of various aspects of your life? Then it is possible that you are currently experiencing an existential crisis of meaning.
But don’t worry: A crisis can also be an opportunity. The midlife crisis offers you the opportunity to ask yourself the basic question of how you want to live – and then to put this vision into action. The following suggestions can help you with this:
- take regular Time out from everyday life, in which you can reflect on where your dissatisfaction comes from. For example, you can write it on a piece of paper, in a notebook, or at the write diary let your thoughts run free. ask yourself: What doesn’t suit me? And: How can I transform these areas into something positive for me?
- The Japanese philosophy of Ikigai is a simple method that you can use to bring clarity and structure to your reflections on your personal purpose in life.
- Also mindfulness exercises and Meditation can help you get a better sense of your wants, limits, and needs. They help to slow down your everyday life and create more space for your intuition.
- If you find it difficult to get to the bottom of things on your own, talk to close people about your concerns. don’t be afraid to professional help – for example from a therapist or life coach.
Step 2 in dealing with the midlife crisis: change
Once you have a sense of what you want to change in your life based on what you learned from step one, you can start tackling your vision:
- Do you lack fulfillment at work? That doesn’t mean that you directly resign must. Maybe an open conversation with your boss is enough to bring about positive change. However, sometimes it can also be the right decision to make new ones to write applications and change jobs.
- If you are dissatisfied in your partnership, that does not mean that you have to separate. Instead, find a conversation with your partner and share with him/her using nonviolent communicationwhich areas do not suit you and which changes you wish for. Important: Also reflect on what part you have in the relationship dynamics. Then you can think together how you can be really happy as a couple.
- Whatever has a supportive effect in times of crisis: time in nature and in the fresh air, regular exercise, a good one sleep rhythm and a healthy balanced nutrition.
The general rule: Take your time with important decisions until you are really sure that you are on the right path.
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