5 Ways For Women To Identify and Overcome Midlife Crisis
Women experience midlife crisis between the ages of 40 to 60.
This is a period of change and for a woman this change happens psychologically and physiologically. This in turn has an impact on their mental health.
Psychologists Erick Erikson and Carl Jung discussed about this time duration as a ‘transitional phase’ in a person’s life, they have called this period as part of our maturation process.
Before entering into midlife most of us are focusing on our education, career and family but as the transition begins from early adulthood to a more mature one, it makes us wonder where we are in life and whether this is where we wanted to be.
The reason why this mid life transition is followed by the term ‘crisis’ is because at this stage a women may reach a point in her life where she starts introspecting all her life’s decision that she has made till then.
A retrospection of the quality of life they are living begins and can make women anxious, depressed or stressed.
In order to deal with this stress sometimes people start indulging in unhealthy coping mechanisms which make them act in ways that are not very healthy.
For example, if a person is in self doubt about their emotions they might look for comfort in substance or indulge in infidelity to cope with it.
This will have an impact on their existing relationships, life, overall physical and mental health.
According to a research study, the issues that work as stressors in contributing to their midlife crisis of women could be internal; like change in hormone or external like job, family etc.
Here are some of the changes to look for which will help you identify if you are going through a midlife crisis:
1. Grief and Loss
During this time there is a change in lifestyle when their children start their own life which is also called ‘empty nest syndrome’ and are in less need of constant care or advice.
Death of parents or spouse, change in job is also something which is a life change and a major loss.
All of these events can be stressful and give rise to fear of death and separation.
2. Bodily Changes
The female body also goes through the phase of menopause at this age.
All these changes in the environment complimented by the changes in the body may trigger the midlife crisis.
Menopause creates hormonal imbalance of estrogen and progesterone which leads to fluctuation of emotions, unhealthy sleep patterns, mood swings, etc all of which can take a toll on the mental health.
It is important to talk about positive aging as well because a woman can also feel unloved and not cared for as she grows old and a fear of being unnoticed grows which can cause anxiety and stress.
3. Work Stress
Women at this stage in their life are also at a point where they may either be switching jobs or finding new areas of work.
It can be a worrying situation as a person may question a lot of their life choices.
If a woman takes a break from work to look after her family and then get back to it, looking at her counterparts she may feel that she hasn’t done enough or hasn’t accomplished things that are worthwhile in her life.
Her professional life may not be fulfilling to her and cause confusion and worry.
4. Balancing Life
There could be a need to do spontaneous and impulsive things to get the thrill that one feels when they are young.
It is also a point in life when struggle for identity could exist as woman could be a mother, a wife, a professional and is a daughter.
She could have also been exposed to years of physical or emotional abuse, divorce, separation and the biological restriction leading to a loss of fertility.
5. Social Stress
A woman may start feeling alone or a sense of constant loneliness may come over if she is single, has no children or could feel a disconnection in her marital life.
All these disturbances and unrecognized emotions would give rise to anger and frustration even while encountering little inconveniences that otherwise could have been handled well.
These external and internal factors could be hard to deal with if not recognized on time.
Usually the period of midlife crisis last for 3 to 5 years, and if a woman is not cautious and does not take care of herself, the probability of developing a mental health problem increases.
In India, most women face these various challenges during midlife crisis and live their life without acknowledging these emotional turmoil that they go through.
What could make this transition even more difficult is that sometimes due to this persistent stress underplaying childhood traumas can resurface which were never dealt with.
Things that you can do to manage it better:
- It is important to have a good social support system like family and friends who you can talk with when you feel stressed or isolated.
- Taking a healthy diet and doing regular activities and exercises will help you manage your anxiousness better.
- Having a to-do list for your day or setting goals. Completing tasks one at a time will not make it overwhelming and at the end of the day, it will give you a sense of accomplishment.
- Going for counseling or talking to a mental health professional is also a viable option to help you through this stressful period of change and transition.
Accepting that you may be going through a midlife crisis is important because unless we identify a problem it is difficult to get a solution for it.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Snowy Rahi, Psychologist
Ms. Rahi is a Psychologist, Her educational qualifications include M.A Clinical Psychology and Organizational Behaviour with a P.G Diploma in Guidance and Counselling.
She is the Founder of Sit With Rahi, a virtual counselling service and an awardee of all round achievement award in her graduation.
She aims to provide accessible and affordable mental health services for all. All her endeavors are focused towards creating awareness and acceptance one conversation at a time.
When she is not working she enjoys reading, researching and travelling.