Is the economic crisis making us all grow up too soon? Are we putting too much value on STUFF?
A recent study done by a British counseling group (RELATE) found that those mid-life perils that once occurred in our late 40’s and 50’s are now happening in our early and mid 30’s. The signs and symptoms reported in the British survey are also showing up here in the United States.
The economic issue is a big part of the symptoms of mid-life crisis. People who put their faith in their career are being downsized, pressed to do more work with less money, and are feeling minimized by their employer. Due to their work schedule, they are feeling more isolated and clinging to what they do have. This makes healthy relationships more and more unlikely.
The mid life crisis that emerges in younger adults is reported to be just as intense as the crisis for adults in their 50’s. The issues are very different though. Younger people tend to focus on themselves. For example, you may not be worried if you are going to become empty nesters because many of you haven’t built your nest yet. Also, having an aging parent is not usually high on your crisis list as many of your parents are still relatively young.
Here are a few issues that may push a 30 year old into a mid-life crisis:
• You begin to realize that school pursuits did not secure you the job you dreamed it would.
• You began to notice your parents aging process, only to realize you are next.
• You may begin to feel that, no matter what actions you take, you cannot have the “dream.”
• You may be working so hard you begin to have insecurity concerning your ability to love yourself or anyone else.
• You don’t feel like you are making any difference in the world with your career.
• You may have terrible luck with an intimate relationship or not be able to secure an intimate relationship.
• You may begin to wish for your old college days. You begin to compare your looks now to your college days and may not like what you see.
• Your job or lifestyle may have contributed to the loss of high school or college friends.
• You find yourself under stress with loans for school, a new home, or owning a business.
• You may want children, but see no prospective mate.
• You feel like you drew the short straw when you compare yourself to others that are your same age.
How do you prevent a mid-life crisis or get out of one if you experiencing these symptoms? Here are few suggestions:
1. Beginning this week try something new each week. Many times we get into a crisis when we keep doing the same thing the same way. We become old before our time. Add some adventure and fun.
2. Stop regretting the past or telling yourself it was the best time of your life. It really wasn’t, and this is a delusion you tell yourself to bring yourself down further.
3. Don’t compare yourself to other people your age. Life is not a race, and for that one time everyone else may be ahead of you in their chosen career. If you follow them for five years you will either surpass them or grow in another direction with equal speed.
4. Remind yourself that the majority of people don’t like their job all the time. Work is work. You have to keep recreating yourself to make your job interesting.
5. Focus on one activity each week that makes you feel great. No matter how tight your schedule is make sure you have this activity in your week.
6. Exercising, eating well and getting plenty of sleep are three of the most important things you can do in the self care department.
7. Are you working at a job you love, or do you love the image it portrays but hate the job? For example, a lawyer may look glamourous to your friends, but it also can be a boring and very difficult job. If you don’t like the profession you are in, try night classes to pursue something else.
8. If you want a child, but aren’t dating anyone it is time to make a change. Try joining a new singles' club, online dating, speed dating, a class, or invite friends over and ask them to bring single friends. You won’t meet someone sitting home talking about how you wish you would meet someone.
9. Get a hobby. Invest your passion into something, and you will get passion back. Passionless people are that way because they don’t want to give. If you become stingy with your desire to give, you will burn out in life due to stagnant growth.
10. Find a way to relax and, whatever that is, do it often. Stress affects everyone, but it is only dangerous if you are not adept at managing it. Using alcohol, drugs, food, or cigarettes are all examples of poor ways to soothe yourself. Running, yoga, riding a bike, or writing in a journal are examples of managing your stress wisely.
I am not sure I ever went through a mid-life crisis. For the most part when I have a crossroad in my life, I reinvent myself. This keeps me excited and looking forward to the next adventure. That is not to say there isn’t grieving or saddness with the passing of a particular time in life. Losing parents and good friends is sad for all of us. But knowing that we, too, have a limited time here and limitless opportunities makes one realize that being stuck in a crisis for even a short time is too long. –Mary Jo Rapini
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