Milestones are difficult to face. For many – including myself – approaching 50 can seem like a catastrophe! But the reality is that middle age is simply a new stage of life! In fact, it’s even more full of opportunities to explore and grow than all the ages that brought me here! It took me quite some time to realise that, but by finding positive ways to deal with the negative symptoms of these natural processes – and combatting the social stigma surrounding them! – are key, not just to ageing “gracefully”, but making the most of the ride!
I wanted to start easy, so if you are feeling overwhelmed, depressed or anxious about middle age, you may well be wondering what can I do to improve my situation? What I can do to feel better?
It all starts with a seemingly simple realization: we’re talking about a number. That’s all! You’re as young today as you’re ever going to be!
So rather than letting the world tell you you’re “getting too old”, ask yourself: what have I stopped doing that I could do now? What could improve my quality of life and help me to feel fulfilled? And most importantly of all: What do I want to do?!
Well… today is the perfect time to do all those things that you have stopped doing, or maybe have never tried to do, because you thought you were too old.
Don’t be overwhelmed! Start exploring your alternatives!
If you’re unsure where to start, take a look at the following list. These are the 5 Pillars I used to help me to take charge of my mood and to start owning my adventure:
Physical activity is vital at any age, but it becomes even more important as we age. In middle age and beyond it’s impossible to overstate its importance!
And I’m not talking a out lifting weights and smashing protein shakes!
Focus on low-impact cardio routines.
The low-impact is important! Go easy on your joints while keeping everything supple, smooth and moving.
Listen to your body! Keeping active not only ensures you feel healthy, but it will boost serotonin levels. Staying active gets you out of the house and if you do it in classes or groups it will help you to keep growing your social circle!
Speaking of which…
2. Organize social activities:
Do you remember when you left school and suddenly your social group shrank?
First it was down to your new work colleagues, then to just the colleagues you liked and so on… In the age of “social” media, the phenomenon of our shrinking world is very real!
Combat that cycle by keeping socially active too! Get out of the house, meet with different groups of friends. Have coffee, lunches and regular activities. Have fun!
Socialising will keep you physically and mentally active; it’s so important for maintaining your mental agility as much as combatting lethargy, boredom and loneliness.
It may sound simple, but it’s impossible to overstate how important this step is for everyone.
3. Consider changing careers:
If you’re lucky enough to still be working you may be getting a little tired of your career. By now, you might have been working for 30 years or more by now!
That’s over half your life! I really hope you’re loving it!
But if you’re not, don’t be afraid to change.
Now, I know exactly how frightening that prospect might be, but here’s a secret:
If you’re “just” thinking about changing careers, and you’re thinking about it more than 3 or 4 times a week, and you’re thinking about it like that for week-after-week… it probably means you should.
Come on! You have one life. In all likelihood you chose (or slipped into) your career before you even knew how the world worked! Now you’ve seen so much more and learned so much – don’t think of it as wasted time! It’s the journey you needed to take, but now you’re here and it’s time to implement everything you’ve learned.
Don’t wait for the career you’ve got to become fulfilling! You’ve given it a 30 year trial period – if you’re not loving it now, then the results are in.
Increase the value you put on what you are passionate about. It’s time to do what you’ve always dreamed of.
The new challenges, skills, situations and friendships you’ll make will enrich your soul.
4. Hobbies and activities:
Sign up for dance lessons. Join a book club. Take a sewing course or learn another language. There are endless activities you can get involved with.
Choose something you’ve “always wanted to do”. Make time for them. They’ll be entertaining and enriching. They’ll improve your mood and who knows where else they might lead? New skills and passions for a new career? New friends with shared interests?
All you have to do is start!
5. Mental health:
Don’t be afraid to explore your mental health. We all need new perspectives in our lives. Our family and friends might help, but sometimes we need an objective opinion.
Make an appointment with a psychologist or a life coach, talk about your concerns and what effects you with someone you trust, but also someone who has nothing to gain by letting you get away with self-deception. Surround yourself with love, support and the truth.
Think of it like any other regular check-up with your doctor. If you are feeling “down” or anxious, it’s in our nature not to think that it’s serious enough to talk about.
There is nothing more serious than your mental health!
So go out there and get healthy.
I hope this short list of suggestions helps you. They did wonders for me. I know they may seem quite simple and even obvious, but trust me: if you actually do these things, the difference is like a cloudless sunrise after a stormy night – you’ll hardly believe the world contained such beauty.
Please share your journey and suggestions in the comments below, or you can always reach out to me directly here.