“Barbara, I can’t seem to get out of this funk. I’m having trouble getting out of bed in the morning, and I’m wasting hour after hour scrolling through Facebook and binge watching Netflix shows,” said Tammy, a 53-year-old newish empty nester working a part-time job. “I know I’ve been in funks before, but I’ve always seemed to be able to get out of them. I’m not sure why I feeling so stuck this time.”
Tammy, you are not alone. This is a common theme that I hear from many of the midlife women I work with. I have identified the following as the top three reasons:
- Less structure and responsibility
We couldn’t stay in bed when we had kids to take care of. We couldn’t spend hours on social media when we had to drive to soccer or ballet and have dinner on the table. We couldn’t binge watch when there was homework, or a PTO meeting. We treated a funk like any other day and just kept going.
- Perception of Beginnings vs. Endings
Many former transitions we experienced were expansive and felt like they were adding possibilities to our lives. Midlife transitions can feel like endings instead of beginnings: Kids moving away, pets dying, parents needing care and passing away.
- Less daily connections to others
While raising our families, we found connection through our daily routines. Prior to texting, there was the phone or the carpool line. Those connections and conversations continued on the sidelines of sporting events, as well as at PTO meetings, dance recitals and school musicals. If you were sick, struggling or had suffered a loss; these women knew right away and were there to support you.
Here is the seven-step process that Tammy and I went through to create her customized “Get Out Of Your Midlife Funk Plan”
1. Practice GRATITUDE
I credit most of my clients’ positive shifts to regularly writing in a gratitude journals. To learn more, join my Midlife Reinvention Facebook Group and watch the “How to Create A Gratitude Journal That Works For You” video
2. Bring Self Development Into Your Life
Audible makes it so easy to become a self-development junkie. Instead of clicking on Facebook click on your latest book and listen as you drive, cook, clean and work. Here are some of my favorite reads: http://barbarawassermancoaching.com/the-store/
3. Add Structure To Your Life
Find a walking buddy and scheduling an early time to ensure you get out of the house. When someone else is depending on you, it makes it much harder to hit the snooze button.
Try to determine the time of the day you struggle the most (for some women it is late afternoon when they previously were busy with their kids activities). Make plans to be out of the house at the time of the day (maybe take a class, make a weekly coffee date with a friend, start a book group).
4. Get Involved In Your House of Worship
Most churches and temples have programs and groups for midlifers. It’s a great way to get reconnected and make new connections with others in the same stage of life. There are often interesting activities, lectures, trips and opportunities to give back.
5. Give Back
Find an organization that interests you. Decide if you want to work on a committee and interact with other women, work directly with those in need, or a combination of the two. Read http://barbarawassermancoaching.com/want-make-difference-world/ to learn my exact process for creating your just right making a difference plan.
6. Tap Into Old Interests
Take a painting, dance or photography class. Start that book you always dreamed of writing. (Join a writers group to gain connection and accountability). Learn something new that you may have thought about but could never find the time to do: technology, crafting, cooking or writing
7. Reconnect With Your Partner
Schedule date nights, plan trips, reach out to other couples, develop new routines (e.g. daily walks), cultivate new interests (camping, museum memberships, fishing, golfing and hiking), or take a class together doing something that interests you both (such as cooking or dancing). My husband and I recently subscribed to a monthly speakers series. In addition to seeing great speakers on interesting topics we met other couples with subscriptions and now meet for dinner before the lecture each month.
After going through this process you will notice a shift in how you feel and think about this next stage of your life. Instead of seeing what you have lost you will start focusing on what you are gaining. This process will help you shift your thinking (most of the time) to the excitement of having the time and flexibility to stretch yourself, learn new things and practice self care. Take pride in having given your heart and soul to raising adult children, welcome your new roles and share your wisdom, skills and superpowers with the world. Enjoy your next act. If you embrace it, you will have a long and beautiful ride.
For those of you who would like to make more connections with other midlife women, I invite you to join my Midlife Reinvention Facebook Group. You will gain access to training and resources from me and connect to more than 300 like-minded midlife women who inspire and support one another as they navigate and create their most fulfilling next acts.
Barbara Wasserman, LICSW, ACC; Psychotherapist and Midlife Transition Coach is the owner of Barbara Wasserman Coaching and a partner at Counseling Collaborative. Barbara created and leads “Beyond The Empty Nest”, “Thriving Solo and “My Next Purpose” workshops, teleseminars and Midlife Reinvention retreats. For over 25 years she has coached busy people navigating transitions in their lives to make their next years their best years. Barbara is a speaker on empty nesting, life transitions, retirement and life balance. Her work has been featured in the Huffington Post, Betterafter50.com and Midlife Boulevard. Barbara is married and has launched three wonderful daughters ages 30, 27 and 23.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/BarbaraWassermanCoaching/
Midlife Reinvention Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/MidlifeReinvent/
Thriving Solo Midlife Women’s Group: https://bwasscoach.lpages.co/thriving-solo/