Our lives are filled with times of stress and anxiety. The first day of school, getting married, having children, retiring, moving house, getting divorced are just a few. All can trigger both physical and psychological symptoms, and are well documented.
The mid-life crisis is something of an outlier, however. The very phrase conjures images straight from the world of TV sitcoms – the 40-something man with a beer belly wearing trousers that are too tight, driving a sports car and making inappropriate advances at women 20 years his junior.
No laughing matter
Reality seldom has much in common with what we see on TV, but the image is hard to shift and the result is that consciously or otherwise, there is a tendency to minimise the seriousness of a midlife crisis or see it as a source of amusement. When you think about it that is crazy – it is no different to any other life event or change in circumstances that can lead to stress, anxiety and illness, so why should we take it any less seriously?
Mid-life crises are hitting earlier
It sounds counter-intuitive given that we are living longer, but on average, people are facing mid-life crises younger than ever. There is increasing pressure to perform in our careers, and both men and women are leaving parenthood till later. As such, if we are anything less than CEO of Google, Prime Minister or the Captain of the England football team by our mid 30s, we feel that we have somehow failed, missed the boat or taken a wrong turn – and that it is all too late.
Here are three golden rules for surviving a mid-life crisis.
- Look after your health – the world is a stressful place, work gets busy, kids get demanding and even the most perfect marriage involves the odd disagreement. All these things are exacerbated if your physical health suffers. If you have a regular exercise regime, follow it, make sure you eat properly and get enough sleep. When those things are easier said than done, take some natural serotonin boosters to help you stay alert and positive throughout the day.
- Don’t become a cliché – resist the temptation to buy a sports car a motorbike or one of those fixed-wheel racing bikes (unless you are already a car nut or a biker, of course). All you will do is prompt sniggers from bystanders, and potentially put yourself in hospital when you discover your reactions are not quite as they were 20 years ago.
- Stop worrying about work – newsflash: there’s more to life than work. If you have your heart and mind set on a particular role, it will probably end in tears. And even if it doesn’t, the top job might not be as great as you expected. Just ask Theresa May. The most important thing is to have a job that you can do well, that you enjoy and that brings in enough money to keep the wolf from the door.