When we hear about a midlife crisis, we often think of yellow convertibles and men looking to recapture the glory days of their youth. While most men don’t go to extremes, the transition into older adulthood still presents many challenges. A man will physically change as he gets older and during midlife, he may experience changes in self-confidence and identity as well. Midlife concerns typically develop between the ages of 40-64. During this period, men take a hard look at their lives and often times don’t feel satisfied or accomplished with their life. These thoughts and anxieties about getting older may lead to impulsive decisions or reckless behaviors, which results in the classic midlife crisis.
What are midlife concerns?
Midlife is a period of self-reflection. Men realize that they may not be living the life that they might have imagined for themselves in their youth. They might feel unsure about where they are in regards to their career, marriage, and health. A symptom of midlife is often feeling “stuck” or feeling like there is no time left to take a new direction in life. Men may feel that they no longer get much pleasure out of life which can lead to low self-esteem and even depression.
During midlife, men also experience physical changes. As men get older, their bodies produce less testosterone. This hormonal change can lead to fatigue, reduced stamina, sexual dysfunction, and changes in mood or energy level. Men may feel self-conscious about no longer being in the prime of their life.
Signs you are experiencing midlife concerns could be:
- Wanting to make drastic changes in your life like ending your marriage or quitting your job.
- Concern about changing appearance – wearing different clothes, spending more time grooming, or obsession with working out.
- Feeling concerned about the future due to a parent or friend passing away.
- Increased drinking or use of substances.
- Sleeping more or less than usual, loss of appetite, decreasing interest in activities.
Dealing with midlife changes
It’s important to be aware of how you feel and not sweep your feelings under the rug. Sudden feelings of unhappiness or anxiety can be overwhelming and will build up if you ignore them. Be open about what you are feeling and get support when you need it. Here are some important things to keep in mind when navigating midlife.
Appreciate what you have in life. Being grateful for the little things in life can remind you of all the positive
Keep your wishes realistic. If you suddenly feel the need to quit your job and move to a new city, ask yourself if you are being realistic. Wanting to make a change “just because,” is not a valid reason for making a major life change.
Get support. You do not have to navigate these concerns by yourself. Talk with your spouse about how you feel or seek advice from a trusted coworker. Your health provider can also refer you to a coach or counselor who can offer advice.
Set goals. If you feel there are still things in life you have not accomplished, create a plan to accomplish them. It’s never too late to cross an item off your bucket list.
Don’t panic. Men in midlife may begin to worry more about their health and wellbeing. This will only add to your stress and anxiety. See your health provider on a regular basis and you will get peace of mind. If you’re panicking about a major life decision – like buying that convertible – remember to stay calm and think through your decisions before you act.
Make the transition in midlife into a positive experience. Think about what you have accomplished in life and focus on what you can achieve going forward. Know that what you are feeling is normal and it’s just a part of getting older.