Is it Actually a Midlife Crisis? 10 Signs and 7 Coping Strategies

By Tatenda


Last Updated: June 30, 2022

When you hear ‘midlife crisis’ what do you think? 

Most people will get an image of a middle-aged man who leaves his wife for a younger woman. He spends a lot of money on fast cars and does everything he can to look ‘young’ (whatever that means). 

But is that an accurate understanding of the midlife crisis? 



Understanding Midlife Crisis

Contrary to what many people think, a midlife crisis refers to an emotional crisis regarding identity and self-confidence.

It is often experienced by middle aged (40-60) people. However, due to different experiences, a midlife crisis can begin at a different stage for everyone. 

The term was coined in 1965 by Elliot Jaques, a Canadian psychologist. This was after he had experienced a period of hopelessness and he had so many questions for himself at 36.  

As we get older, we look back at our life. In some cases with relief and in others with regret. We notice how our life has turned out so differently from what we envisioned. Sometimes we feel like our best years are in the past and we wish we could have done more to hold onto them. 

At this point, we have difficulties accepting that we are getting older and in some cases, our health is declining. 

Thanks to mainstream media and popular culture, most people believe that only men experience midlife crises. Or at least men and women experience midlife crises differently. 

Unfortunately, this is not true. Any gender can experience midlife crises and the signs differ from person to person not from gender to gender. 


10 Signs of a Midlife Crisis

A midlife crisis is associated with a lot of complex feelings such as: 

  • Exhaustion
  • Confusion
  • Sadness
  • Increased or decreased ambition
  • Extramarital affairs
  • Loss of confidence 
  • Self-doubt
  • Dissatisfaction with career, relationships and life in general
  • Mood changes
  • Changes in sexual needs



7 Ways to Cope With a Midlife Crisis

The frustration that comes with a midline crisis can be difficult to deal with and in some cases, you might think it’s best for you to just ignore the feelings till they go away. 

Sadly, that will likely not work.

You need to acknowledge the presence of all the existing feelings and then work towards dealing with them. 

The tips below can be helpful. 

1. Journal.

Keep track of how you feel. Document any circumstances that might steer any specific feelings. Also, take note of the things or people that make you feel happy and positive about life. 

Journaling is also a great way for you to do some introspection and gain clarity regarding how you’re feeling. 


2. Appreciate the good.

When going through a midlife crisis you might feel like you do not have a lot to celebrate and appreciate.

You will likely focus more on the aspects of your life that you’re not proud of. This can lead to a rabbit hole of negative emotions. 

Rather, focus on and appreciate the aspects of your life that are going well. Yes, you can’t go back in time and make new choices but learn to forgive your younger self and let go. 


3. Learn from your past.

During this time of reflection.

Look at what you did well and continue doing that. Also, look at your mistakes and learn from them. Don’t be scared to try again. 


4. Talk to a friend.

When you’re in a dilemma and not sure what to do, talk to a friend or mentor.

Having another opinion other than yours will help you see things from a different angle and assist you with your decision-making. 


5. Give yourself purpose.

A midlife crisis might make you feel like you have no purpose and your life is cruising on auto pilot.

Take charge and give yourself purpose. Make a difference in the lives of people around you. Consider volunteering. You will be amazed by how that will make you feel.


6. Take initiative.

When you feel doomed and as though nothing will ever go right, take the initiative and do something.

You might feel demotivated and think it’s best for you to just wait and let everything fall apart. That’s part of the midlife crisis.

Write down all the possible outcomes that you are thinking of then also write down what could be the possible outcomes if you take charge and do something now. 


7. Be kind to yourself.

When you look back and feel like you haven’t made the right decisions and everything is falling apart in your life, remember to be kind to yourself.

Give yourself time to make new choices. 

When it looks like everyone around you is doing better than you. Remember that their circumstances are different from yours.  



Final Thoughts

While experiencing a midlife crisis might feel like the end of the road, it is not.

This period can be ideal for reflection, a chance for one to look back and unpack what has contributed to them being where they are today. 

Upon understanding the series of events and decisions that have contributed to who they are today, people can make certain decisions that result in a more fulfilling future.

After a midlife crisis one can see new opportunities and end up pursuing a different hobby or even career. 

If you’re going through a midlife crisis, remember, it is not the end of the world, but a phase for reflection. 

Photo by Julia Volk


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