The 7 Secrets to Learn to Enjoy Midlife WITHOUT Feeling Overwhelmed

Hi, I’m Katie, and if you are reading this, you are likely entering or are well into midlife.

I am a mom of 5 grown and mostly grown children. Now that they are beginning and creating their own adult lives, I need to figure out what my own life is without it revolving around them. I spent almost 30 years as a stay-at-home mom whose life, calendar, and mealtime revolved around my kids and their needs. I wouldn’t give up that time for anything, because that was exactly the kind of mom that I wanted to be.

the 5 Merrills!

But now, in my mid 40’s, I get to figure out what this next part of my life looks like. And to me, it looks like a lot of fun and I can’t wait to share what I’ve learned and what I’m still learning.

Okay, now with that out of the way, I’m thrilled to share the top 7 secrets I discovered on my OWN path to achieving midlife happiness. Let’s start with #1…

Secret 1

Feel ALL your feelings

As women, especially, we are at a precipice of change at midlife. Not only are our roles as mother and caretaker changing as our children grow up and leave the nest, but our bodies are changing as well as we prepare to enter menopause.

And we often have a lot of feelings around the meaning of those changes. We may feel excitement. anticipation, sadness, grief, and even regret. And many of those feelings all at once!

All of these feelings are normal, natural, and unique to you. Don’t be afraid to feel all of those feelings.

Action Step: Take time to process and sit with those feelings. Journal, spend time with understanding friends, maybe even try therapy if you haven’t before.

Secret 2

Let go of your need to be in control

The future may seem daunting as you step out into a new phase of life. Often one of my favorite coping mechanisms, when faced with the unknown, is to turn into a raging control freak. Maybe that’s you too.

You don’t know how this new chapter of life will play out for your or your children. They need to to chart their own course. You are no longer their captain. You are their safe harbor in the storms of life they will face.

You also don’t know what your midlife will look like. Will you be caring for aging parents? Will you or your spouse deal with serious health issues? Will you live to be a healthy 101 and watch your great great grandchildren be born? Just take the days as they come and make the most of them.

Action Step: Approach life with a beginner’s mindset. Act as if you don’t know what’s coming. (Because you don’t!) Sure the future could be difficult, but there isn’t anything you can do about it it but enjoy and surrender to today.

Secret 3

Let go of other people’s expectations

It’s often called the blessing of growing older: shedding other people’s expectations. But here is your chance to also let go of the labels you have given yourself.

Those labels may have been useful, but don’t quite fit anymore. You’re not “Mom” or “wife” or “employee” in quite the same way as you once were.

Think of this time as a clean slate. The opportunity and time to consciously choose who you are and want to be. And what if you decided that just being, you were already enough?

Action Step: Take the time to ask yourself if the old labels and expectations still fit. If they do, embrace them, if they don’t, shed them and decide who you want to be.

Secret 4

Embrace your passions

Remember those things you love to do that have been on the back burner for too long? Dust them off and explore them. Maybe you can’t (or don’t want to) participate in your favorite hobby the same way you did in your 20’s. If so, find a new way to feel the joy.

If you don’t know what lights you up anymore, that’s okay too. Take the time to look for activities that sound interesting or even a little bit intimidating and jump in with both feet. It’s okay to be terrible at something (see secret 5) and it’s okay not to enjoy a new activity that you’ve tried.

Action Step: Tag along with a friend, a coworker, or your husband on an activity they enjoy. Join a group. Look through your community’s continuing education or recreation center’s activity catalog. Browse a craft, hobby, book, or sporting good store and see if anything intrigues you.

Secret 5

Plan to fail

I know we spend a lot of our time teaching our kids that it’s okay to fail. But we often forget that advice when talking to ourselves.

If you are taking my advice (see secret 4) and stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new or re-trying something old, you will not be fabulous at it the first time out.

If you are, please let me know, I want to meet you, you Wonder Woman.

And if a new experience isn’t a great fit for you, no worries. Life isn’t one-size-fits-all and we are grateful it isn’t.

Action Step: Learn to embrace failure. Just shake it off, learn something from the experience, and move on to something EVEN BETTER.

Secret 6

Give yourself some credit

It takes courage and strength to try something new and fail. And you have years of amazing experiences, abilities, and talents that you have grown and cultivated over the years.

Maybe all of your skills won’t directly translate into the fun, adventurous new midlife you are currently creating, but they have made you who you are today.

And I think that woman is pretty darn amazing!

Action Step: Celebrate you. Celebrate your accomplishments and talents. Throw yourself a party. Look yourself in the eye and tell yourself, “Good job!” and mean it.

Secret 7

Take care of yourself

There are a million blog posts already on self-care and here I am adding to it. But it’s that important. The same way you wouldn’t let your five-year-old stay up all night, run with scissors, and live on a steady diet of Chicken McNuggets. Love yourself enough to make good choices for yourself too.

I’m not really a spa day and massage kind of girl when it comes to self-care. I like to keep things simple.

A few ideas for self-care during midlife

  • spend time in nature
  • breathe deeply
  • journal
  • take a walk
  • lift weights
  • spend time with your friends
  • practice gratitude
  • eat your vegetables
  • get your hormone levels checked

Action Step: Choose 1 or 2 ideas from this list and implement them into your regular routine. Or come up with your own best self-care ideas and share them with me!

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