5 ways to cope with symptoms of midlife anxiety

Midlife anxiety crisis problems. Mature lonely depressed divorced man, tired, fatigued needless feeling. Health problems, illness concept
Midlife anxiety is very common. (Getty Images)

With midlife comes a slew of new stressors, from empty nest syndrome, to various financial concerns, and hormonal changes – so it’s no wonder that this season of life can lead many to feel anxious.

In fact, data from the Office for National Statistics have found that – despite most people being generally content with their lives – middle-aged adults between the ages of 45 and 59 are the least happy and report the highest levels of anxiety.

“While anxiety can manifest at any age, midlife is often a time for reflection with conflicting priorities and hormonal transitions sometimes leading to exacerbated feelings of worry and unease,” Anxiety UKs director of communications and external affairs, Dave Smithson, says.

“For instance, you may start to regret your career path and feel trapped by your financial responsibilities, such as mortgage payments, saving for retirement, and funding your children's education.”

Smithson adds that midlife can also bring a shift in relationship and family dynamics, especially as they enter the ‘sandwich generation’ – caring for both children and ageing parents.

“These changes can sometimes lead to friction or distance in relationships, including with your partner,” Smithson says. “Health concerns during midlife often become more prominent as individuals become increasingly aware of their ageing bodies and potential health risks.”

However, despite these setbacks, midlife can also be a time for growth and self-discovery as people reevaluate their priorities and pursue new passions.

So, if you are feeling anxious about this new period, there are several things you can do to quell your worries.

Three colleagues sit outside on a sunny day and enjoy a takeaway lunch and some hot drinks. They are comfortable with each other, having a light hearted discussion.
Talk about your anxieties with friends or family. (Getty Images)

“As you age, change becomes an unavoidable part of life, and embracing it is crucial for finding contentment in midlife,” Elizabeth Hughes-Gapper, brand manager for Kalms, says.

“Rather than suppressing your emotions, find healthy ways to address them, and remember that feeling uncertain or anxious is normal. Whether you're grappling with children leaving home or feeling weighed down by financial burdens, consider expressing your thoughts in a journal or confiding in a trusted friend or family member.”

Discovering – or rediscovering – hobbies is a great way to destress and find excitement and fulfillment.

“Whether it's painting, gardening, cooking, or learning a musical instrument, find activities that ignite your passion,” Hughes-Gapper says. “Doing so will help keep your brain sharp, expand your social circle, and give your life a new purpose.”

Go back to basics and switch your mindset to one that looks at life with a glass half full mentality. While this switch may not be instant, it’s something that you can train your brain to do.

“It may offer comfort to know that a downturn in happiness during midlife is a relatively common experience,” Hughes-Gapper says. “Instead of dwelling on past regrets or fearing the future, aim to shift your view of getting older with a positive outlook that acknowledges new opportunities, such as more time to spend on doing the things that you love like traveling, either by yourself or with loved ones.”

Happy african young woman sleeping on white sheets in bed. Resting asleep.
Better sleep can help your overall health. (Getty Images)

“Ensure you're eating well, exercising regularly, taking breaks, and getting enough sleep,” Hughes-Gapper recommends. “Engaging in relaxation techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, or yoga can also be beneficial. Remember that self-care is not selfish but necessary for maintaining your health, happiness, and overall quality of life during midlife and beyond.”

If you find your midlife anxiety is impacting your wellbeing and quality of life, Hughes-Gapper says you should consider seeking support from a therapist, counsellor, or healthcare professional.

“They can provide valuable techniques and tools to help you cope and navigate this challenging phase,” she adds.