Irene Rinaldi
Irene Rinaldi

It's The New Peri-Midlife Crisis. And You're In It

And it doesn't involve buying a sports car or trading your partner in for a newer model.

We thought we were the generation of women who would finally have it all. And then reality hit in our 40s.

A much-shared story on Oprah.com recently sounded the alarm, putting a name on the lives of quiet desperation that so many of us Gen-X women have been experiencing. As we read, we shuddered in recognition of every symptom, every emotion, every anxiety described. Financial insecurity — check. Relationship dissatisfaction — check. Feeling overwhelmed and stressed — double-check.

It’s the “new midlife crisis,” and we’re in it. Now what do we do?

Girlfriends, we’re here to tell you: You’re not alone. And that’s the first step to survival. Read on.

1. First, you scream. It’s okay to let out your anger and frustration, because, yeah, the struggle is real. There’s no need to suffer in silence. Primal screaming, kickboxing, rage-baking: Do whatever it takes to allow yourself to release some stress.

2. Take off that Instagram filter. Who hasn’t gotten envious over what they see on social media? But behind those well-curated online identities, many of our friends are struggling with the same issues we do. That became obvious when the Oprah.com story went viral, and women started really talking. So don’t buy into those best lives seen on Instagram … and while you’re at it, don’t hide behind yours, either. Have some honest discussions, which can lead to group problem-solving — or at least a good venting session.

3. Start small. When it comes to financial worries, it’s natural to feel completely overwhelmed. Where do you even begin? But rather than letting your worries compound even further by doing nothing, let your interest compound. Start with small financially savvy moves that can add up. Taking action in even a seemingly tiny way might just give you the jump-start you need.

4. Understand what’s happening to your body. Just when we are stretched to our limits, perimenopause kicks in. And it can last as long as a decade. Be aware of what hormonal changes and stress can do to your body (the dreaded midsection weight gain), your mood (hello, weepiness), and your sleep (goodbye, rest), and talk to your doctor about what you can do about it. There may be no magic pill to cure your midlife crisis, but at least some symptoms can be treated.

5. Allow yourself to feel sexy sometimes. Put on the little black dress and heels for the holiday party. Take the 10 minutes to get a free makeover at Sephora. Date night doesn’t have to involve sneakers and jeans. And don’t just brush it off when your partner pays you a compliment. It’s good to know you’ve still got it.

6. Remember that happiness is worth fighting for. As a wise man (whom I happened to marry) recently told me, “Life is hard. But we only pass through once. Don’t give up on being happy.”

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Irene Rinaldi