How to find balance in the Midlife fire 

‘What are the most challenging experiences for midlife women?’ they asked.
‘Balance,’ came back the chorus.

If you’re a midlife woman who feels she’s wading through the seven circles of hell – with the thermostat turned up to 1,000 degrees – you are not alone.

Maybe you weren’t aware of that. Here’s why…

Women are highly trained to perform to the ‘everything is all right’ school of public persona. My mother was. I expect her mother was. I know I was and frequently slip into that, ‘everything’s great’ performance when people ask me how I am.

For many of us, our time in our social circles – when we can find the time to escape – are largely spent perpetuating the ‘everything is all right’ myth. Work is great. The family are great. The house is great… It becomes a mantra.

A mantra that’s a lie.

Because here’s a truth, according to research recently published in the United States. Women in their midlife are the most over-stressed, over-stretched, over-relied-upon adult female demographic. 

Younger women have no idea what’s coming (and why would they, because we’re running around doing jazz-hands) and older women have us to rely on (more jazz hands – yay).

Midlife women are so overwhelmed the word ‘menopause’ rarely gets mentioned as a major stress factor. Strange, you might think, considering the 40-65 age group are experiencing major physical change, peri-menopause, menopause or trying to adjust to post-menopause life and all that brings physically, psychologically and socially.

But no. Menopause and her two sisters Peri and Post, were not cited as  major factors by the group. So either these Midlifers have become so disconnected from their bodies that what’s going on with it doesn’t register or they are battling with much greater external stress factors. Night sweats and brain fog hardly register on the ‘what fresh hell is this?’ scale. Maybe a blend of the two?

Researchers in Seattle have been watching the world of midlife women for years, focusing on women age 40 to 65 and the challenges that present during the menopause years, whether they be biological, psychological or social.

‘What are the most challenging experiences for midlife women?’ they asked.
‘Balance.’ Came back the chorus. 

Midlife women wear multiple hats: wife/lover, mother, worker, home manager, carer to aging parent and sometimes grandkids too.

And then we sit at the perfect point where unravelling begins to unfurl – health issues, failing relationships, death, children leaving home.

Dealing with any of those events, or frequently multiples of them, would be bad enough, but there’s the time-sucking, energy-leaching cabaret going on as the stage set for the dramas that unfurl. 

So what can you do to get more balance?

Be ok with being vulnerable
Stop pretending everything is all right. Put down the jazz hands and talk to someone. A therapist. A friend. A neighbour you see facing the same or similar issues. As a culture we’re becoming increasingly isolated. Our work is less social and we talk less, looking at something ironically called ‘social media’ more. Loneliness is endemic. Reach out and keep reaching out.

The solution to your problems is not doing more
It’s easy to do more of the same, I get it. It’s familiar. But it is not solving your problems. It’s stoking the fire. Your body needs rest. Rest. REST. Rest can be a yoga class. Pick one that’s restorative and supportive, check it out before you go. Remember; balance is key.

Understand your mental health is a priority
You are no use to anyone if you run yourself into the ground and wind up sobbing in bed. You have to take action and that action is going to get uncomfortable because you need to take care of you first. Not someone else’s crisis. Yours. Because here’s a shocker, no one else will.

Eat well
Eating and drinking junk will not help you in the long term. Eating real food (the stuff that grows) will. Food that’s got vitamins and minerals in it, the protein that your body needs to help build healthy cells, create energy, balance your brain’s chemistry. More real stuff, less processed stuff. 

Look at who you spend your time with
There’s a saying, that you are the average of the five people you spend most time with. If the people you’re constantly with aren’t adding to your life, change that circle to include people who lift you up. 

Feed your mind
Read what inspires you, not what depresses you. Look for books by women you admire, or fiction with strong female characters who make you smile. Who you can relate to. Here’s three I love just now, featuringwomen who hold strong and are not ‘pleasers’:
Jayne Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gayle Honeyman

Dare to dream
This is the planning time; according to other cultures this midlife time is where we consider what ‘the big work’ is going to be. It can be. If you carve out the time for it. You have the wisdom now. You’ve seen enough as an adult to know what’s right. In your heart and mind. When you’re walking, lying in bed at night not sleeping, think about your big dreams. Where would you like to be in five years time? Let your imagination run riot. No problems from today’s stress maelstrom. What could that look like? Daydream like you did as a kid. Where would you be? Who would you be with? What would you feel? Put some flesh on the bones of your ideas.

If you’ve got questions about any of the above, fire them into the questions below. Or message me. I’ll help where I can.

And if you’ve got great ideas for inspirational books, do share those. Books are inspiration magic we can all enjoy.

References

https://womensmidlifehealthjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40695-018-0039-9

Image by: Victor Rodvang at Unsplash

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1 thought on “How to find balance in the Midlife fire 

  1. Hell yes. Peri-menopause will be the end of me (along with fortnite 😂)… 😉

    Like

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