Midlife is a time of change, but it doesn’t have to be viewed as a time of crisis and loss. Each decade brings new changes and challenges. Women have experienced and accomplished a lot by midlife. Children are grown and are building lives of their own. The nest is empty and now it is time to refocus on how you want to live the years ahead. No one can control the clock, but the way you choose to live your life is in your hands. Here are 10 ways that women can put their years of accumulated wisdom to good use and thrive!
1 – Accept Change
Too often we fear the inevitable because our brains prefer predictability. But fear paralyzes us from taking action. It keeps us in unfulfilling roles, unsatisfying careers, fighting the clock, and stops us from letting go of things that no longer serve us. While change may seem scary, what’s worse is living life inauthentically. Usually, what’s holding us back from making constructive changes in our lives are the stories we tell ourselves. Recognize that you are the author of those stories and are the only one who can change the narrative. Instead of becoming attached to the past, make a conscious effort to acknowledge and work through the feelings that come up when you face life’s transitions and changes. You’ll soon realize that it’s futile to dedicate your time and attention to resisting change. Change is always upon us. The answer is to accept what is, focus your energy toward what you do want—and plan a prudent course of action to get there.
2 – Learn to Say No
Many women are so conflict averse that they spend decades routinely say “yes” to things they’d rather not do out of obligation, or because they don’t want to appear rude or selfish. Sometimes it might seem easier to agree to something at the time, only to end up resenting it later. It’s time to let that guilt go!! Time is precious! Spend it doing things you want to do. A simple “no” is all that is needed. You don’t have to explain or defend yourself. Now, go start enjoying your “yeses”!
3 – Realize Someday is Here
Midlife is the central period of your life. There’s no time like now to start checking off those bucket list items. Learn to paint, discover your inner athlete, lose weight, write that book, spend time with friends and family, travel to the places you’ve always dreamed about. Stop waiting around for ‘someday’ and make the most of today.
4 – Focus On Your Health
Midlife is a time when health issues like blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol start to appear and can get worse if they go unchecked. Take good care of yourself. In addition to your annual physical exam, make good self care a priority. Make appointments to get your eyes checked annually. And see a periodontist. As we get older good dental care is extremely important. Your smile affects your self-image, it’s your greeting to yourself in the mirror and to the world. And research shows that gum disease is linked to health problems, including diabetes, cardiac disease, and dementia. It’s also important to eat a healthy diet and get regular physical activity. Optimizing your total health now is the key to living your best life as you get older.
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5 – Don’t Cave To Weight Gain
It is true that there is a correlation between getting older and gaining weight. With age, we lose muscle mass which makes us burn fat less efficiently. And, hormone changes and estrogen loss during the menopause transition causes weight to redistribute around the midline. But weight maintenance and weight loss are still possible. That’s why, at mid-life, it’s more important than ever to exercise daily, including strength training to build muscle, and eat right with smaller portions. With a shift in habits, it is possible to keep your body trim and strong.
6 – Prioritize Your Worries
“Don’t sweat the small stuff” is easier said than done. By mid-life, we know that there are better ways to spend time than worrying about things we can’t change, but sometimes, they can take over too much of our bandwidth. If daily stress is sapping your energy, it’s time to look at the root of those stressors before they affect your emotional/psychological and physical health. Focus on the things you can do something about. For the rest, understand the symptoms and effects of stress on your health and learn ways to manage like getting good sleep, yoga or meditation. If you’ve taken steps to control your stress but your symptoms continue, consider seeing a professional counselor or therapist to help you identify sources of your stress and learn new coping tools.
7 – Put Yourself First
You can’t run on empty. After a lifetime of responsibility and caring for others, it’s easy to forget about your relationship with yourself. Take time to indulge in some self-care. Psychology Today has a great article on The Unselfish Art of Prioritizing Yourself. Taking care of yourself is not selfish. It is mandatory for your health and well being.
8 – No More People Pleasing
It’s finally time to stop being a people-pleaser. Wear what you want. Spend your time as you please. Who cares? Live authentically in alignment with your values. You know yourself and what’s best for you.
9 – Nurture Friendships
At midlife, with work and family demands; perhaps caring for aging parents, dealing with teenagers or children leaving home, it’s hard to find time for yourself, let alone your friends. And for many women, friendships revolve around parenting, so when the children leave home, the connections tend to disappear. But nurturing connections is very important as we get older. Social connections not only give us pleasure, they also influence our long-term health in ways that are as powerful as adequate sleep, a good diet, and not smoking. Dozens of studies have shown that having satisfying relationships with family, friends, and community correlated with greater happiness, fewer health problems, and living longer. Even though it’s easier than ever to keep in touch with text, email, and social media, FaceTime doesn’t replace actual face time. Invite your friends over for a meal, join a book club, or go play tennis or golf together. Spending in-person time and creating memories together is the secret ingredient when it comes to maintaining relationships with friends and loved ones.
10 – Embrace Gratitude
Midlife crises are often rooted in thoughts like, “Is this all there is?” and compounded by events like an unexpected divorce, death of a parent, and/or health issues which can bring on feelings of anxiety, depression and apathy. Enter the power of gratitude. All of our feelings are caused by our thinking. Having an attitude of gratitude doesn’t mean you should repress your feelings or live in a state of denial. It simply means you are making a conscious decision to appreciate what you do have and what’s going right, every day, no matter what happens. Think about it, if the only time you are happy is when things are going right, you’re not going to be happy very often. Making the intentional shift to focus on what you are grateful for will take practice and the shifts may seem subtle, but over time, you will begin to experience more joy and, eventually, create a different world view. And, when you focus on gratitude, what you appreciate expands and grows.