We’ve all heard the jokes about the midlife crisis, especially in men – the red convertable, gym membership, maybe a divorce and a trophy wife are in the mix – those things are cliche, but the midlife crisis isn’t necessarily.

What is a Midlife Crisis?

A midlife crisis is an existential crisis of identity. Often self confidence takes a nose-dive and it usually happens in early to middle midlife – around the 40s and 50s. Many people take stock of their life’s accomplishments so far and feel depressed or anxious because they did not live up the goals they had in place when much younger. Mortality and its inevitability, may play a role too.

How Do You Know You’re Having a Midlife Crisis?

While some people question if a midlife crisis is a real thing, many people enter a period in their lives where they question the choices they’ve made and ask themselves what they want to do with the time they have left. You might be having a midlife crisis is you’re asking deeper questions – Are you living your best life? Could you be doing more to be more fulfilled?

You may also find yourself doing more impulsive things like buying that new flashy car, traveling on a moment’s notice or even cheating on your spouse.

You might feel blah and have no real hope for your future. You might feel as though there isn’t enough time left to do all the things you wanted to do when you were younger but unable to do them. This may contribute to the impulsivity you’re experiencing.

You may become hyperobsessed about your looks and decide to get a facelift, boob job or some other cosmetic surgery and you might start working out with a compulsion that surprises you. Or, you might give up and just accept the way you looke and embrace it by sporting sweats and spending the evenings watching reality TV with Ben and Jerry.

So You’re Having a Midlife Crisis, Now What?

No matter how your midlife crisis presents itself, there are some things you can do to alleviate the stress and anxiety they can bring about.

Take Stock

Often, when looking back at life we tend to see the negative and forget about all the good things we’ve done. Take stock of the positive impact you’ve had on people through your job, family and friendships. Small acts of kindness can go a long way so even something as simple as helping someone with a flat tire can have a ripple effect. If you can’t think of many ways you’ve been helpful or caring then now is a great time to start.

Get Out There!

Much of what we experience as a midlife crisis is really the transition from one stage of life to another. Most of us experience the midlife crisis when the kids leave the nest and the parenting role is no longer front and center. Our priorities have shifted and now we’re not sure what to do with all the time on our hands. Get out and do the things you’ve been putting off for the last couple of decades. Take a cooking class, open a shop, travel, get a puppy, volunteer. Do something out of your comfort zone, even if it is a little scary. The point is to get out and enjoy life. Don’t let the fear and disappointment you may be experiencing prevent you from living a fulfilling life.

Get Help

If midlife has you questioning your entire life and its meaning it might be time to work with someone through these difficult emotions. Many people self medicate with alcohol or drugs during their midlife crisis, instead of going down that dark road seek out the help of a professional therapist.