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Mid-life is just a transition phase

Individuals must learn to understand and accept that this transition is inevitable and can be made optimum use of, says psychologist

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Dr Reena Thomas
Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Mid-life is a very active and dynamic transition phase when people are expected to be productive, perform meaningful work and develop a family perception, Dr Reena Thomas, clinical psychologist at Medeor 24x7 Hospital, Dubai, told Gulf News. “Taking mid-life as a crisis is very individualistic,” she said.

“Any transition phase is inevitable in life and it is up to you to take the phase as a threat or challenge. I believe the difficulties endured during this phase have helped many people to treat them as learning lessons which they have found to be valuable enough to be passed on to their children,” Dr Thomas said.

About the possible triggers for mid-life stressors in modern living, she said: “The problems come when people reach [what can be called] the ‘stagnation’ point and therefore they tend to be become inactive in their life.”

This stagnation point, she explained, can often be related to the search for identity and self-confidence in their respective fields which usually pushes people to perform to their best of ability. And in that quest to achieve the best and in pursuit of perfection, some people may perceive parenthood, job demands and change in jobs as stressors. “Economic stability [or the need for it], need for a secure shelter, changing statuses in personal life due to setbacks, the perception of a monotonous life, regrets about the choices made in their life … each and everything can be perceived as a trigger for stress,” she said.

She referred to Erik Homburger Erikson, a German-born American developmental psychologist, who used the term ‘generativity’. “He used the term to explain the pressure experienced by some individuals in their psychosocial stages of development,” said Dr Thomas. “I narrated these factors based on his famous theory.”

However, mid-life stressors are inevitable to a certain extent, she said. “But the perception or the meaning we attribute to the demands of life is purely our choice. The transition, of middle age, is going to happen in your life. Be prepared for that. That is the best thing one can do to overcome the challenges of that change.

“Accepting the current situation is crucial in determining the impact of any new demands on your life,” she advised. “Address the concerns and find practically available solutions.”

Tips to cope with mid-life transition

Take time out for you and your family regularly

Reconstruct yourself by reflecting upon your strengths and weaknesses

Set clear boundaries in relationships

Be wise in handling financial issues

Make collective decisions with the family

Strike a balance between physical and spiritual activities

Share issues with friends, family or professionals who can help you

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