The New Midlife Crisis: From Crisis to Opportunity with New Healthy Habits

middle-aged man running

When Neil Gordon* was approaching 38 years old, an inexplicable dark void consumed him. The face staring at him through the mirror was much rounder than the reflection he once knew. On top of that, his fifteen-year relationship had grown stale. And living with his partner’s mother and overbearing grandmother did nothing to reawaken that spark. His editing job at a comfortable sound studio hardly proved to be the creative career he had hoped for. And he couldn’t remember the last time he composed a new song—much less played in a band.

Then Neil was blindsided by life changes that sent his life into an upheaval—from a separation from his partner to the death of her grandmother. Rather than resting on his laurels, he took these changes as a sign to put his health first. He moved into an apartment of his own, took on a vegan diet, enrolled in a yoga class, quit smoking cigarettes, began listening to mindfulness lectures, and started running—soon reaching 10-plus miles a day.

Seemingly overnight, the reflection in the mirror transformed back into the face of the boyish Grunge rocker he once knew—only more muscular and more confident.

This is the face of the new midlife crisis.

As we reach midlife, the years between the ages of 40 and 60, it’s not uncommon for a deep malaise to settle in when we confront our mortality and lose our zest, as the late Canadian psychoanalyst Elliot Jacques put it. This year, with the pandemic, has been even more jarring for many.

The metamorphosis from youth to middle adulthood can be undeniably rough and we’re practically hard-wired to stave off the unsettling feeling that lines the path for 26% of Americans crossing the threshold into middle adulthood.

But gone are the days of the fancy sports cars that reminds men and women of their youth.

Instead, the new midlife crisis is taking on new athleticism such as  running marathons and the adoption of healthier lifestyles like plant-based diets, yoga, and career changes that are less stressful.

To support this claim, let’s look at the numbers.

But why is health and wellness taking the front seat at midlife?

Let’s explore health information that could explain why increasingly more middle-agers are adopting healthier lifestyles when age catches up to them.

The Midlife Crisis and the Call to Change

woman looking in mirror

If you’re in the throes of a midlife crisis, you might feel the urge to drastically make changes in your life.

Sure, you can quit your job, get a giant tattoo, and take one last stab at becoming a rockstar—or you can turn inward for personal growth and transformation.

You can consider this difficult period as a time to transform that feeling of impending doom or crisis to an opportunity, a trope inspired from the Mandarin character, weiji, used amply in business and self-help seminars.

When our bodies start to show the signs of aging and can no longer bounce back like it used to, it could be a sign to reconsider our habits.

“At its core, midlife crises have always been about the passing of youth and retaining that youth in some way,” said University of Exeter Professor, Mark Jackson.

So why not embrace aging by developing habits that help us retain our youthful body and mind?

Developing Healthy Habits as a Way to Deal with a Midlife Crisis

There are healthy ways to deal with, even potentially prevent, a painful midlife crisis. Developing healthy habits for life sets a solid foundation, now and into the aging process.

Replacing poor choices— like consuming junk food, drinking alcohol in excess, smoking cigarettes, and gambling — with nourishing health habits like nutritive eating and exercise may calm the existential crossroad of life. As intangible as it can seem, the physical benefits of being fit after 40 are not only possible, but quite probable, given the marked self-discipline that comes with age.

Then, there is the sublime satisfaction that comes with a heightened self-esteem that comes with a healthy body and mind. Together, they are a formidable force that may provide a swift exit from a midlife crisis.

As these lifestyle changes become routine, they amplify. You’ll find your outlook transforms with your actions, and your actions morph with your outlook.

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How exercise can contribute to better physical and mental health

Exercise is, unsurprisingly, crucial to your physical, psychological, and even spiritual wellbeing at any age. But it’s even more crucial to support healthy aging.

An exercise regimen for those “getting up there” will protect against bone loss, prevent a rise in body fat, encourage better balance, assist hormonal stability, enhance muscle tone, and more.

Curious about how to start exercising again if it’s been a while? Here are some recommended tips to help you get back in action:

  • Get checked by your health professional. If you’re pushing 40, you might have noticed that your body is more sensitive than it used to be. It doesn’t hurt to evaluate your heart, cholesterol, and bone density if you’re returning to an active lifestyle after a long reprieve.
  • Build up your stamina slowly. Don’t jump into anything too extreme too quickly. This can lead to injury and burnout.
  • Choose enjoyable activities. You’ll be more successful with your workout routine if you choose a sport or movement art that gives you pleasure. If running is not your thing, try dancing, yoga, swimming, a circus class, or playing tug of war with your dog.

Ultimately, the aim is, as NBA commentator and runner Paul Flannery said, “About building yourself up for the years ahead… Getting better at getting older.”

But it is more than merely physical wellness.

Regular physical activity encourages brain growth, social connections, and psychological stability. For some, the payoff includes euphoria as endorphins and the endocannabinoid, anandamide, kick in for the coveted “runners high”.

This may be why athleticism has been trending for those over 40.

As you develop your exercise routine, you may find that your energy is reinvigorated, your hormones are more balanced, your focus and mental clarity is back on point, life’s stressors affect you less, and the dark night of the soul is lifted.

The midlife body and mind is capable of far more than many give it credit for. Maybe extreme fitness is less about being young again and more about connecting with ourselves, now and into our future.

Calming the mind during a midlife crisis

When a midlife crisis strikes, a workout routine can neutralize its inherent pain and anguish. The endorphins and anandamide production can calm the mind while exercise strengthens the body.

However, there are other ways to help ease those negative thoughts racing through your mind.

One of the most effective ways to quiet your mind is to practice mindfulness. Whether this be in the form of meditation, intuitive painting, or quiet walks in nature; taking time to focus on the present moment can help recenter you when life’s stresses get the best of you.

You can learn more about mindfulness and mindfulness techniques in the TED Talk below by clinical psychologist, Shauna Shapiro.

In addition to your health and wellness routine, you may also consider trying plant-based CBD gummies, such as CBD GUMMIES: CALM** 60CT from Charlotte’s Web™. These tasty lemon-lime supplements can help you manage everyday stresses while supporting a sense of calm and relaxation with a botanical blend of lemon balm and whole-plant hemp extract, a perfect lifestyle addition to those facing a midlife crisis.

How developing healthy eating habits can improve your physical and mental wellbeing

Healthy eating is one of nature’s best medicine. No cell remains unaffected by what we place in our mouths.

  • Nutrients are required to produce our “feel-good” neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. B vitamins , zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and amino acids including choline, tryptophan, and tyrosine boost production of dopamine and serotonin, which can improve our mood—including how we perceive the midpoint of life.
  • The right diet reduces inflammation, a process linked to the diseases of modern-day civilization. By reducing inflammation we reduce our risk of, or even prevent, cardiovascular disease, dementia, diabetes and depression.

Red meat consumption, particularly processed meat, increases the possibility of an early death due to its high levels of saturated fat, which increases the risk of heart disease. Meats and dairy from animals given antibiotics and added hormones like the controversial recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) may also contribute to health complications, particularly by disrupting the endocrine system or causing resistance to antibiotics when they are needed. Moreover, hormones found in milk can increase sebum production in the skin, leaving the skin prone to acne

This is not ideal if you’re worried about your fading youth and mortality!

Of the health habits, switching to an organic, plant-based diet is a beneficial step towards improving your wellbeing.vegetables and quinoa

  • First of all, it’s generally a lower-fat diet.
  • Secondly, plants are generally nutrient rich, fiber-filled, low glycemic whole foods that have the power to protect and heal.

Just watch the trap of excessive carbs, sugary dairy-free yogurts and ice creams, and processed “fake meats” and cheeses. The junk food vegan diet is hardly going to boost your health.

If you are concerned about swapping flesh for vegetables, you can rest your mind that budding research can support you as you explore dietary changes. Medical experts, health researchers, and world class athletes continue to reveal how following a vegan diet maximizes performance and optimizes health.

If you haven’t yet watched it, check out the documentary the Game Changers, which showcases how elite athletes perform better when following a plant-based diet.

Turn Midlife Crisis into an Opportunity

It’s rare that we take time out. In the hustle and bustle of life, we may lose ourselves. We can become unhappy, unfulfilled and sullen and yet continue pushing through. A midlife crisis, then, can stop us in our tracks and force us to take notice.

It can provide the impetus to forge healthy habits, to implement a workout routine, to eat well. We can swap harmful choices for nourishing practices. If it is more actionable, add in small life changes like yoga or swimming once a week and meatless Mondays rather than a drastic shift like running an ultramarathon or going vegan overnight.

Through these changes, we can learn to appreciate the wisdom of midlife. Because as we age, we change. This is not the same as creeping decrepitude. It does not mean you are figuratively over the hill, even if at times it may feel like it!

It is simply one of life’s transition points that allow us to stop and take heed. To make corrections to our direction. To learn to love and appreciate who you are and to prepare for the future.

Midlife might be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for!

If you’re interested in learning more healthy habits you can adopt into your daily lifecheck out some of our other articles here: 

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*Name changed for the protection of privacy.
** These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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