Covid-triggered mid life crisis anyone?
So if you’re struggling at the moment, you are definitely NOT alone!
The last 19 months or so have been a little bit crazy haven’t they? And for many the roller coaster isn’t over, we are still processing what has happened, we are still dealing with the changes, challenges and compromises. And I don’t know about you but 2021 seemed much harder than 2020?!
In this blog I want to share some insight and observations (both professionally as a mindset coach with 20 years of helping people and personally as a 45 year old single working Mum of three!). Along with some inspiration and solutions for you all!
I hear a lot of people, who have mentally and physically crashed (just like I did recently) say things like “I just can’t work out why I feel like this!”
I know why you feel like this!
It’s because most people are just not recognising how the last 19 months have impacted them, most aren’t looking after themselves properly, people are still doing too much AND they aren’t going about the best ways to help themselves get out this place.
My objective in this article is really to help you have some self-compassion if you’re not feeling your best. Whilst also giving you a little nudge to own where you are and what you’ve been through (or are still struggling with!). And to remind you that there IS light at the end of the tunnel and it’s easier than you think to find it!
Because what I do know is that when you’re in a rut – whether covid-related, midlife, or whatever’s going on in you’re your world – you CAN absolutely get out of it.
Please remember that… where you are is NOT who you are.
People are so bogged down in their current reality, mood and vibe – and that actually is a big part of the problem!
Want to lift yourself?
- You’ve got to get out of your current reality and switch it up to a new and better one
- You need to be honest with where you truly are
- Give yourself permission to feel the way you are
- To recognise the imbalance and stress you might have been experiencing
- To get anger, frustration and upset out your system – this is so crucial!
- To stop brushing things under the carpet in hope they’ll go away – they won’t. EVER
- Work out where you really want to be – because you really are only temporarily stuck!
- Deliberately put in some thought management and mindset switches (often forgotten when in a rut!)
- To create as much self-care and rejuvenation as you possibly can
- And put together a simple, exciting and inspirational plan that starts to take you where you want to be – that’s also created with the right energy (which is not always a go-go-go one – especially if totally pooped!
And if you’re waiting for everything to lift so you have the energy to lift yourself, you’ll be waiting a very long time.
Start straight away and don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today – even if with baby steps. Baby steps matter A LOT. But most people are programmed for extremes, so wait for when they have more time, more head space, a clean run to do things perfectly etc. Change this and everything changes 🙂
So what has been the impact of Covid on you?
So let’s start with the fact that many people were at full capacity before lockdown happened!
Life was already a little crazy and many people were on that hamster wheel of life. Most people were living with their buckets almost full, one change, one wobble, one addition and the bucket starts to overflow.
But with Covid it was a bit different.
Most of us actually went into survival mode – putting soooo much energy, time and attention (often unconsciously too) into processing what was happening. We were keeping our spirits up, dealing with those constant challenges, changes and compromises and all that doom and gloom news, whilst holding it together as best we could at work and at home.
There has been a LOT of cortisol round the world of late and that is not good for our bodies or our minds. But what many people don’t realise is that we get addicted to the stress hormones. So usually (without realising it) we repeat the habits, behaviours, actions and mindset that trigger these. We get used to feeling stressed and sometimes even (unconsciously) search for it. Why people stay in their rut waaaaay longer than they need to!
Plus as lockdown has eased in the UK many people have reverted to being super busy again, going back to the old ways of doing things, without truly recovering from the stress and imbalances.
Your map of the world is entirely different to everyone else’s
As I mindset coach I teach something called ‘maps of the world’, which is where we take time to realise that how we view the world is different to everyone else’s – based on our background, eliefs and our perspective of things. On my BEST program we have covered so much of this on the Q and A’s this year.
It’s important to recognise YOUR map of the world with where YOU are – because a lot of people compare themselves to others, comparing their back of house, with someone else’s front of house.
Remember no one knows how it feels to be in your shoes and vice versa. No one knows how you feel physically or mentally. And we do SO much mind reading and create an internal dialogue that everyone else must have it OK and only we are the ones struggling. Incorrect.
We also down play our own struggles. Especially successful women, many of whom have ridiculously high standards of themselves and don’t embrace feelings of tiredness and failing. I mean that means there’s something wrong with them or they’re a terrible human being right? Wrong.
And grief. Grief is a big one right now. Not of bereavement per se – but the loss of things or parts of life missing. The life we had before. Realising you’re not where you thought they would be, not feeling free, not being able to see loved ones, seeing the ones you love live a different life etc. And grief often shows up as anger and frustration and unexplained emotion. When I did one of the exercises that I share at the bottom of this blog, I realised I too was in fact experiencing some life grief.
Let’s breakdown some covid-impacts I’ve been seeing a lot…
For some of course, being furloughed was a pleasant respite to their previous crazy life– but also a double edged sword. I know many people that because they took a break, have looked at how they are living their life and have really struggled to find motivation on returning to work – or feeling very discombobulated. After all, as employed adults, people don’t typically take that sort of time out, from when they start work lets say in their twenties to when they retire, especially when being paid. And having a lot more time on your hands can mean all those thoughts and things you’ve buried by keeping busy can come out the wood work too. And humans don’t like uncomfortable feelings! A lot I know felt guilty too.
Those needing to work through the pandemic have often had to work much harder and even longer. I’ve never known so many people approach me for help who are experiencing so much stress and imbalance in the work place. With many feeling like that ‘have to’ keep pushing through in fear of letting others down or fear of worrying what others think. And of course for fear of losing their job.
Stylist magazine posted on Instagram last week about the increase of presenteeism – which is where people are reluctant to use sick leave instead continuing working through illness. Many employees are tolerating much more than they would ever have typically too.
One woman saw me for a 1-2-1 session and said “I’m unwell, I’m shattered and I’m completely exhausted, I’m actually hoping I get Covid because then I actually can take 10 days out guilt free”… whaaaaat?!
But remember, you teach people how to treat you and what you don’t change you are indirectly choosing.
But I’ve also seen others work through actually having Covid because they needed to, or were expected to – and parents who’ve had to work full time whilst having sick children at home or children on 10 day isolation (hands up I have fallen into this category a few times). And the stress of this often isn’t felt until long after the chaos of doing it. In fact we tend to follow periods like this with a “crack on with it / must get more done” mindset rather than “let me recover from what I’ve just had to deal with” one.
People being forced to work at home have either thrived from the no office freedom or practically died being within their own four walls for so long. Therefore some loving the return to the office, but many absolutely dreading or loathing it. Pressure from employers is a big one too. Many expecting their staff to be their former selves not addressing the changes in people since the pandemic and supporting people in the right way. But probably struggling behind the scenes themselves. We need to open this dialogue, and make it OK to be struggling whether with ourselves, our bosses or our are partners, children and families- another driving factor of me writing this blog.
Relationships, parenting and financial stress
Some people’s relationships with partners are now hanging by a thread from all that time at home (see more on this below). A lot of people gone mad from sheer loneliness. And parent-stress I believe for the majority of people is at an all time high. But even this for most people is discounted and unrealized.
It’s what I call the “normalisation of the accumulation of things” or indeed way of life – that crept up without us realising. In other words, it’s what we’ve got used to and become, so we’re familiar with it. Our new normal. But without questioning the impact.
A quote that has really resonated with me recently is this…
“Just because I carry the load well, doesn’t mean I don’t carry the load”
I’m a super positive person, I find joy every day and I think well. But it’s been a huge load that I have carried over the last 19 months (more then usual!), personally, professionally and particularly financially. I’ve carried it well, I’ve been a happy person throughout – but the load has 100% there.
The financial impact for many has been huge – especially for small businesses. So many small business owners have had to throw themselves in to the deep end and push themselves to the absolute max to keep themselves financially afloat and make ends meet. Scrambling to keep cash flow, constantly on the edge trying to work out what they need to do, costs going up, working out what their customers need in a different world, distracted and exhausted consumers – I’ve been helping my BEST:Business program crew all year long with this. And don’t get me on the farce of social media and all people need to do nowadays to get the algorithm working since Covid hit (more on that on my ESCAPE ROUTE and ESCAPE ROUTE BUSINESS blogs!). Running your own business can be lonely enough, but in Covid, that took it to another level for many. Again the impact not recognised.
And the aftermath of all these things is showing up big time – especially those who were also dealing with juggling home school or indeed mental health crashes in teens and young adults which are rife. Most of these being in women. I’m sure if more cabinet ministers were women of school age children, and had to juggle full time work at home whilst home schooling children – we would have had way more support given to haggard working parents!
Of course some men have absolutely shared the burden of home schooling and domestic duties. But let me tell you this, many of my female clients felt like they went back 70 years at home! Their partners insisted their job was more important, especially if they were brining in more income. Women’s businesses were often pushed to one side (or they had to find scraps of time to do what they could where they could so everything got bitty, causing more stress), women’s mental health has suffered as exercise sessions were put down the priority list, whilst women’s to do lists went up and self care / me time practically disappeared.
For many families, making money became more important than mental health. Of course we can’t prioritise everything at once and money is important, but at the expense of mental health and relationships? I’m seeing a lot of this in my coaching practice at the moment.
Did men deliberately shun the duties? One client even admitted that he made his work appear more stressful so he got out of doing the home stuff which he didn’t enjoy. Were men not able to see what was going on because of their map of the world? Or perhaps women didn’t ask clearly for what they needed and weren’t able to communicate that they were struggling and needed extra support during these crazy times? Some women have told me they didn’t want to ask for help, after all it goes against their belief that they should be able to do everything themselves! So they carried on being an exhausted martyr but then got bitter.
Emotional and physical wellbeing was compromised for so many people, quality time became rare, energy low, heated discussions about how the pandemic should be handled – and many relationships became fraught – in ALL ages! From working parents, to retired couples. A lot of frustrations bubbled under the surface and still are.
Some men have struggled big time too though. For sure. I know of highly successful male CEOs who have literally been in bits and falling apart behind the scenes, working more hours than ever before, but holding it together for their co-workers, not wanting to or not able to admit they were struggling. And so much pressure (arguably self-made) to provide for their families and to keep hitting targets for the board.
I know some men who have had total covid-triggered mid life meltdowns. Because Covid completely knocked them sideways and they aren’t good at talking about how they really feel – especially to their partners and friends.
And of course let’s not forget the underlying worry and what ifs about the future AND getting used to a totally different world around us.
All of this has had and is still having a big impact on us.
We may be going back to a bit more normality regarding Covid restrictions but the load of what we have carried and are still carrying is still felt by so many. And with restrictions and risks doing the things we love to do, especially travel (the things that perhaps balanced out your busy life!), people’s lives can feel really heavy.
So how do we cope, process or escape these struggles?
Well mindset and looking after yourself properly helps.
But for many they’ve chosen self-medication! And people’s drug of choice looks different for everyone.
It’s those crappy habits … And these FURTHER impact our mental and physical health. Deepening the rut!
Because what lifts us or helps us cope temporarily, often creates a negative impact further down the line.
Crappy habits I’ve seen a lot of are:
- Daily drinking – alcohol sales have say rocketed in the last 18 months
- Too much scrolling and social media – people’s use of these are at all time high
- Sugar, bigger portions and take aways – either using food as comfort, treat or reward or from sheer businesses (not always laziness!) and lack of planning
- Excess Netflix and news – I have seen this SO much with my clients this year
- Lack of self-care in general (late nights, not sleeping well, lack of ME time, quality time)
- Waking and starting the day negative, in fear or worry and demotivated (stuck in a rut default mindset)
- Going against themselves (as they feel a failure) and being even harder on themselves
- Working more than ever before – people often do this to avoid what they need to process / deal with!
- Not being in a good exercise routine – I can put my hand up to this, I just cruised for most of this year telling myself I was too busy or tired. But in the last few weeks I’ve got back into 4-5 big workouts a week and not only my energy is up my productivity is too!
Of course there is still a lot of low level underlying stress (perhaps full blown stress for some of you!) with the present and indeed future, being a little uncertain and not the world we thought it was or want it to be.
And many people I have observed are left feeling confused, out of touch with their true selves, questioning their life choices and even a shadow of their former selves.
Now if you’re in your mid life, you can also add in an extra layer of wallop!
I call it the mid life feels!
It can be perimenopause / menopause related for women from their late thirties, but also a shift in identity and confidence with a mid life transition or bit of a mid life wobble or crisis (that may of course happened without Covid but quite probably exacerbated by it!).
A midlife crisis by the way is described as:
- A loss of self-confidence and feeling of anxiety or disappointment that can occur in early middle age
- A transition of identity and self-confidence that can occur in middle-aged individuals, typically 45 to 65 years old
And as I turn 45 next year and primarily work with women in their forties and fifties, I can tell you that the pandemic + mid life struggles along with perimenopause / menopause symptoms is a bloody nightmare!
I’d never had so much brain fog, lethargy and exhaustion – and I consider myself a healthy, happy person.
I have been imbalanced, been doing too much, all with seismic hormonal shifts going on! Plus all the Covid impact things I mentioned above.
I felt like I didn’t know who I was, I felt disconnected to my body and mind (and that was really difficult as a mindset coach!) and I felt very lost and confused.
I also found myself wanting the world to go back to the way it was – not pre Covid but pre the tech explosion. I found I was angry at the world for the way it had become and really started to question my tech, time and life choices (why I set up the ESCAPE ROUTE project – which I’ll be spending more time on next year). I had this real ‘what the hell have we done to the world’ thoughts and found myself craving to go back to 1995!
When I hit a total wall this autumn, I soon realised it was more like rock bottom, I felt really really low. But as JK Rowling said “Rock bottom became the solid foundation in which I rebuilt my life”
And I became fed up of being in my covid-shattered, mid-life, single-parent rut. And I put my coaching hat on and decided to get myself out of it!
And I soon realised that despite what I’ve mentioned above being very real things. There was SO much I could do to help myself out.
And actually in a couple of weeks I went from this place of total rock bottom to a place that feels like sky high
What did I do?
- Got off my chest all the things that were bugging me – I didn’t realise how much I was carrying underneath my conscious thought threshold. It was so cathartic, I got super emotional and then I felt such relief. I spent the best part of 48 hours feeling sorry for myself and crying. But getting it out changed my energy. Depression is where you depress how you feel and bury things without dealing with them – of course they are still there. I wrote all the things I was sick of, I got angry, I grieved, but it became my catalyst for the rise.
- Started to focus on what I wanted – I’m not sure I would have got the answers for this without doing the release in point 1, but I started to ask myself “What would I like my life to look like in a year’s time in December 2022?” And when I started to do this I realised that my current reality was just that. I had the power to change it.
- Reminded myself who the f*** I am – I had gotten lost in all the craziness and exhaustion. I had a “Remember who the f** you are day” and this was also a big turning point for me. Instead of Janey the covid-exhausted, haggard single Mum of three which financial pressures, an imminent house move which was also dragging me down, less than ideal fitness levels and midlife bags under my eyes, I remembered the person in the middle who WAS STILL THERE! And I brought her back out and once I’d done that, all my troubles seemed to slip away
- I took command of what I needed to do and they way I needed to do it But lightly, calmly, cleverly became my vibe! There were so many solutions and perspective shifts right under my nose, but I couldn’t see them before. Once I put my focus on where I wanted to be and where I could be, rather than going over and over where I was, it was like a miracle right in front of me!
- I decided to hatch a brilliant plan – I knew I could make the good stuff happen again, knew I needed to start right now. WANTED to start right now. And I started making steps to feel great about myself and my life again, upped my self-care and also get a super exciting plan for 2022.
So if you’re struggling right now, try the above things – they will make such a difference!
And if you’d like some help with this, you’ll love RISE – my brand new mini coaching experiences designed to help you go from RUT to RISE in no time at all.
Where I’ll take you through my 5 RUT to RISE steps; RUT-DESIRE-MAGIC-DECIDE-RISE (the 5 points I mentioned above)
These 5 hour workshops (plus some Q & A time) take place as one day workshops (930am to 3pm with 3 breaks) or one day ones (an hour a day over five days) at the end of November and start of December. They include tailor-made Q and As and an optional 10 day pop up Facebook group too.
Please don’t head into Christmas feeling bleak or burying more things under the carpet in the hope they will go away or you can sort next year.
Why don’t we do it now?
All details of RISE can be found here
Any questions please let me know and places are limited.
Shall we get ready to RISE?
I cannot wait to help you 🙂
If RISE isn’t for you, come and join my Sunday Set Up mailing list, I share exclusive tips and content every Sunday to help people have a better week ahead!
PS – At the moment these workshops are for women, but I have had quite a few requests from men too. So if you’re a man reading this (or your partner / hubby / brother / father might be in need of my help, please email me – firstname.lastname@example.org)