Men and women experience similar changes physically and hormonally as we age. However while men seem to be ok with demonstrating their struggle, women often fluff over how we’re really feeling and give a “life’s great” answer amidst the turmoil we really feel. For many of us, this Female Midlife Crisis brings a swooping emotional roller-coaster and radical physical changes that leave us questioning:
- Who am I now?
- What have I accomplished?
- Where am I going?
Female Midlife crisis is not the normal fluctuation and discomfort of transitioning past your prime. Crisis is acute, serious and potentially life-altering. Should anyone you know demonstrate the signs below, please have them seek medical assistance.
Signs You Might Be In Crisis:
- Change in eating habits
- Altered sleeping patterns
- Feelings of pessimism or hopelessness
- Restlessness, anxiety or irritability
- Feelings of guilt, helplessness or worthlessness
- Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, including sex and hobbies
- Depression or thoughts of suicide
- Physical aches or pains such as headaches or gastrointestinal upset that don’t respond to treatment
**These symptoms may indicate a more extreme issue and should be taken seriously.**
For many of us, these symptoms look like the following:
- weight gain or loss
- asking yourself deep probing questions
- physical pain
- rash decision making
- a feeling like you are losing your mind
- difficulty sleeping
- dismal view of the future
- sense of loss
- preoccupation with how you look
- loss of interest in your appearance
- loss of interest in sex
- think of yourself as ‘old’
- you think your best years are behind you
- you think every bad day means it’s a crisis.
What is a Female Midlife Crisis?
If you’re feeling unsettled, having regrets from the past, or feeling depressed, you may be experiencing a female midlife crisis. Women are uniquely vulnerable to midlife malaise, not only because of the changes in our bodies, but because society demands that we be caretakers, breadwinners, and beauty queens all at once. A Female Midlife Crisis refers to an all too real issue that leaves you questioning self-identity.
As a result, your self-confidence can plummet and leave you examining the very foundation of your life. And, while there is no evidence to suggest that a female midlife crisis is actually triggered by reaching a particular age, there are many changes in life and stressors that cause women to experience this.
What causes a Female Midlife Crisis?
During perimenopause and menopause, our changing hormones can cause or contribute to the problem. Declining estrogen and progesterone levels can interfere with your sleep, make your moods vacillate, and reduce your energy levels. Menopause can also cause memory loss, anxiety, weight gain, and decreased interest in things you used to enjoy.
By the time you reach middle age, it’s likely that you will have experienced some trauma or loss. The death of a family member, a significant change in your identity, divorce, physical or emotional abuse, episodes of discrimination, loss of fertility, empty nest syndrome, and other experiences may have left you with a persistent sense of grief. You may find yourself questioning your deepest beliefs and your most confident choices.
Our youth-obsessed society is not always kind to aging women. Like many women, you may feel invisible once you reach middle age. You may feel pressure to mask the signs of advancing age. You may be struggling to care for your children and your aging parents at the same time. You may have had to make difficult choices about family and career that men your age did not have to make. And divorce or the wage gap may mean you have chronic financial anxieties.
All of this can seem overwhelming and even frightening. But, that’s exactly why you’re here. You are not alone! There are millions of women, just like you and me, going through a very similar experience. The female midlife crisis is one stage of life, just like any other, with its own unique set of challenges and obstacles. But, there is also a huge potential for growth!
What Can You Do?
Talk to your friends. Midlife is easier if you’re surrounded by a circle of friends who can empathize and comfort you with your struggle. Women with friends have a greater sense of well-being than those who don’t. Not even family members have as great an impact.
Talk to a therapist. Cognitive therapy, life coaching, or group therapy might help you work through grief, manage anxiety, and plan a path toward greater fulfillment.
Reconnect with nature. Studies show that spending time outdoors, even for a few minutes a day, can lift your mood and improve your outlook. Sitting by the water, being at one with nature, and outdoor exercise all combat sadness and anxiety.
Try home remedies and healthy eating. We are officially old enough to choose what we put into our bodies! YAY! Eat the good stuff — leafy greens, fruits, and vegetables in all the rainbow colors, lean proteins. Try supplements like melatonin or magnesium to help you sleep, or break out some Copaiba oil or CBD (no THC) to help manage the stress and anxiety.
Write down what you’ve accomplished. Not just the big things like awards, degrees, and job titles. Write it all down: traumas you’ve survived, people you’ve loved, friends you’ve rescued, places you’ve traveled, places you’ve volunteered, books you’ve read, plants you have managed not to kill. Take time to honor all you have done and been.
Take steps toward a new future. Take an online course, start writing your memoirs or a novel, open a food truck, or start a new business. You may not have to radically overhaul your family or your career to make a material change in your happiness, but taking even one small step can make you feel differently about the situation.
The payoff for this struggle…
You are in the midst of a transition. Essentially re-creating yourself, what you want, the relationships around you and where you’re going.
If you find yourself in this transitional period, congratulations. Reexamining your life suggests that it’s finally time for you! You’ve probably spent the last few decades caring for others. Or, if you’re a single midlife warrior, you’ve been busy building your career, taking care of your home, and navigating your social life. And, this in itself can be exhausting! So, it’s finally the time to give yourself some much-needed appreciation.
If you find yourself struggling in this moment, ask for help. It’s ok to get the support you need, and this support can be instrumental in radically changing your thoughts and intentions moving forward.
Katrina Murphy is a Professional Intuitive Mindset and Confidence Coach in Ontario, Canada, serving clients across Canada and internationally. Katrina helps professionals to change the relationship that they have with themselves so they can reconnect both in their relationships and at work. She’s been featured in various publications and is the creator of the Power-Passion-Purpose Framework.