Midlife anxiety sucks. It’s a little different than general anxiety because midlife anxiety usually arrives with a bonus feature: an existential crisis thrown in for free!
Welcome to Midlife, Here’s Your Anxiety Starter Pack!
There is something unique about midlife anxiety. For most of us, we navigate a general sense of anxiety daily. It might be barely noticeable, like a small electrical current running in our mental background. We might notice feeling anxious if life circumstances start to feel negative or uncomfortable. But mostly, we hang with anxiety on the regs and do fine.
Midlife anxiety seems to be very different, it feels like it is grounded in regrets. Like a delayed case of FOMO, midlife anxiety can show up at the strangest times.
You Might Experience Midlife Anxiety When These Things Happen:
- Your child gets married
- Required to take prescription meds to solve a typical “old person” health condition
- You feel alternately confused and or/angry by the culture around you
- Thinking that “the good old days” are the solution to every moral issue
- Losing your last living parent or older family member
- Wondering if you made any impact on the world, on history, or your community
- You spend more time in memories than creating new experiences
Hey, its normal to have some midlife anxiety! We all know that life is limited and some days it feels like we are super focused on what we have left behind. Missed opportunities, a longing to have a do-over, wishing that you had made different choices. We all have those feelings in midlife.
Looking In The Rear View Mirror Does Not Fix Midlife Anxiety
My grandma used to say “You can’t put an old head on a new body”. Despite being a little morbid, her words were true. We can only use the brain that we have in THIS moment.
Life is set up as type of moving escalator. Lessons learned have to be experienced and only then are they are available for future wisdom. We have to move through the hours, weeks and years of our lives to earn our knowledge.
Okay, I Have Midlife Anxiety, How Can I Get Rid Of It?
Quick Truth: You cannot get rid of anxiety. As humans we are wired to evaluate and respond to our environment. Anxiety is a survival skill we all have. We can’t get rid of it, but we can acknowledge and manage it. (Note: If you are in a continual overwhelming anxious state, please consider getting support from a mental health professional.)
One of the best ways to manage midlife anxiety is to identify some of the fears that are fueling it. Many women feel anxious about aging. For women, aging decreases our confidence in our appearance and physical desirability.
Wrinkles Can Be A Source of Midlife Anxiety
Since early childhood, we are conditioned to place a high value on tight skin, big boobs and lush hair. Midlife hormonal changes affect all these physical qualities, leaving us to silently sag, our beauty no longer on center stage.
If you struggle with fears around your physical appearance and aging, please seek out some supportive resources. I highly suggest following positive aging accounts on social media to help reduce midlife anxiety. When we share an uncomfortable experience, we bring a sense of normalcy and information to isolated women everywhere.
Empty Nest = Midlife Anxiety
Another known source of midlife anxiety is when your children leave home. Sending them off to college or waving goodbye at their wedding can be an anxiety trigger. Navigating your new normal can be so difficult, everything has changed.
We spend years preparing for our children to grow up and leave home. Some of us fantasize about how wonderful things will be! It will be clean and quiet 24/7, no dirty dishes hanging out, crusty and smelly, coated with pizza grease. But when that time actually arrives, we feel lonely and lost.
Midlife anxiety reminds us that we are halfway through our journey. We can start to fixate on regret and abandoned goals. Our thought cycle feels like it is a never-ending loop of disappointments and loss.
Try This One Suggestion For Dealing With Midlife Anxiety
Journal- I know, I know. You have heard this a million times, but it is one of the most effective ways to connect with your hidden thoughts.
Here is a secret about journaling: Don’t write for an audience. When you censor your words, you are censoring your thoughts. So, instead of writing to release your anxiety, you have created an alternate internal persona that judges your real self.
Not cool and def not helpful to spend your energy on self judgement.
Stop Judging Yourself, It Makes Your Anxiety Worse
When you journal, write down your most ugly, barfy thoughts. No censorship, no editing. If you don’t have a safe space to share your deepest anxieties, you will remain stuck in your fears. Trust me.
If you are afraid that you might die and others will find your journal, make a deal with your bestie. Just like when we were younger, promise that you will take her journal and destroy it. Burn it, toss it in a lake, run it thru a shredder, whatever feels safest! Make her promise the same thing to you, total journal destruction upon death!
Midlife Anxiety Can Be Decreased By Telling The Truth
Maybe you prefer to leave your journal as evidence of your thoughts and feelings. That is acceptable as well. The point is to create emotional safety for you to record and release your fears.
For many of us, writing something difficult in a journal is safer than saying it out loud. Somehow we have this anxious idea that speaking it out loud is a special type of witchcraft. Our brain insists it will come true, if we say it aloud.
If I Say It Out Loud, Will I Think I Am a Terrible Person?
Its okay to laugh at that idea, but I admit that I have been in that space. Saying something out loud made me feel like I would be responsible for creating a terrible problem with my words. Can you relate?
If so, write it down. Write and release, my friend. Buy a lovely new journal, and a new pen. Find a quiet space and start to release your thoughts.
Feel the anxiety start to drain from your body. Be prepared for some internal resistance, but please stay with it. You are taking important steps toward self-growth and emotional freedom.
Be proud of yourself, you are doing the work that will change your life!
Melane Ann is a writer, blogger, and life coach. In 2020, she turned her experience in midlife divorce and creating a new life for herself into midlifeismagical. With a master's in Marriage and Family Therapy, Melane focuses on helping women over 50 navigate their relationships and commit to healthy aging. She and her new husband share 7 children between them. Melane jokes that she has a black belt in blended families! In addition to her writing, Melane works virtually with her coaching clients from her home office.