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Sun Dec 17 2017  

MANAGING MID-LIFE CRISIS

"Is that all there is?" If that's your theme song, then you may be experiencing a mid-life crisis. You may feel that your job has lost its challenge, your spouse really has nothing new to say and you are going nowhere fast. These feelings are all normal as you pass into middle age. How can you cope?

Mid-Life Crisis

After the turbulent years of your teens, you emerged as a young adult ready to take on the world. You went to school or got special training. You went on to find a job and worked with zest at your job as you moved up the ladder. Along came a mate and excitedly you learned about love and commitment. Then you experienced the sometimes exhausting phase of babies and found most days different and full.

At middle-age, you have finally reached a stable state at home and work where you can enjoy the fruits of your labor but you find you are bored, restless or depressed. You job is routine and probably the one from which you will retire. There are few surprises in your life with your mate. Even sex has lost its appeal.

Erik Erikson says the challenge of the middle years is to bring the parts of your life to a meaningful whole. You have a strong feeling of wanting to live a life that matters and leaves something for future generations. Preventing stagnation and boredom is paramount. You feel the pressure that half of your life is gone and what have you really done? All of your chances to count for something are shrinking. That's why you feel your life is at a roadblock.

Physical and Emotional Changes

Body changes begin to appear. Skin flaps appear, body parts thicken and the hair is receding as fast as it is graying. The dieting and exercise of younger years doesn't work the same magic. You are forced to face your body's aging process and your own mortality. You came to middle-age with high ideals and now disillusionment reigns. Great disappointment can be followed by depression and feelings of low self-esteem. You feel out of control and confused.

What to Do

Despite the upheaval of this stage, most adults weather the storm without major disruption. The goal of this stage is to use your maturity and experience to redefine your goals. You can make them more realistic and doable. You may need to go back to school, change jobs, take a long vacation, rediscover your marriage, leave homemaking and find work or develop new interests or hobbies. You can purposefully try to delete some of the boring routines that have bogged you down. Use your gift of creativity to add some sparkle to your home and job. You will find your own special niche so you can get that zest back into your life.

When to Seek Help

Because of coming up against so many disappointments, many adults try to fill their emptiness with thrills. They could find a younger mate or be promiscuous, waste money on frills such as sports cars they can't afford, overindulge in alcohol and other drugs or risk death by taking up dangerous hobbies. These substitutes generally don't work and lead to worse situations. Another way of coping would be to give up, indulge in self-hate and fall into a deep depression. In either case you could benefit from professional help. You will find that the small pleasures in life will add up to a meaningful whole.

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