Go from Midlife Crisis to Midlife Vibrancy: 5 Ways to Rediscover soul-aligned living and purpose for women over 40
Written by Laura Enzor
I’m sure you’ve been there. You wake up one day, and the joy is gone. Your world has turned gray. You’re going through the motions, but you’re not really living. Something has changed. Snapped. Shifted. And you’re not sure where it went or what happened, but you can tell the difference and sense the loss. You need to reconnect with yourself, reframe the narrative, and reignite your passion for living.
Perhaps you recently became an empty nester or divorced. Maybe you’re juggling career and family. Whatever it is, you’re under a lot of pressure, and the usual zip has fallen to zilch. You’ve powered through seasons like this before, tackled burnout, and overcome your challenges with confidence, but you’re not sure if you’ll be able to muster the energy to do it all over again. Not if it’s going to require you to reinvent yourself with this level of “meh” staring back at you in the mirror. You don’t see purpose or opportunities, and you sure as hell don’t see solutions. What
Well, the good news is that you’re not alone. Not in the least.
In fact, you’re quite normal, and there’s research to back you up. Life after 40 is new terrain with new challenges, new fears, and new triggers. Sounds like a party, doesn’t it? These years involve many changes, and the culprit is largely estrogen. From hair loss to bladder control, from the irritating reality of facial hair–WTF?!–to a menstrual cycle that now seems to have a mind of its own, being a woman in midlife is not for the faint of heart. Oh, and by the way–that actress who starred in Clueless–plan on googling that one because brain fog is not going to retrieve her name for you any time soon. 1
1 Haak, Emma. “5 Ways Your Body Changes after 39 That No One Talks About.” Oprah.com, Oprah.com,
29 Nov. 2016, https://www.oprah.com/health_wellness/how-womens-body-change-in-their-40s/all.
The person you’ve been is no more. You’re changing. Life is not just going to be different–it already is. Situations and circumstances are changing too. From relationships, kids leaving the nest, and career shifts, to dealing with your aging parents…your starting to see that the nurturer in you is starting to become a self/sabotaging behavior. There’s just no time left for you!! And it’s starting to take a toll physically and mentally.
But midlife doesn’t have to be a crisis–not according to Deb Schilling, PA-C.
She argues that the 40s provide another opportunity to focus on being healthy by creating healthy habits. It’s a“critical” time for renewing your pursuit of a healthier lifestyle, which means more–mind you–than simply altering your diet. These changes must include exercise.2 and to add to that, it’s also about finally making yourself a priority.
When it comes down to it, you need a different lifestyle because you’re a different you.
Fortunately, there are many things you can do to regain a zest for life because you are only limited by your imagination. Call it reinvesting or–better yet–reinZESTting, here are five solid ways to get you reinventing your second half of life.
One of the best ways to reclaim your zest is to get moving! Time and time again, science has identified the connection between physical and mental health.3 Exercise releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects. Call them “stress-busters” because that’s exactly what they do. They tackle your bad moods to free you from them. Endorphins are released into your blood whenever you exercise, and they do not require complicated exercise routines or large blocks of time. Why? Because exercise in nearly any form has the potential to reduce the amount of stress you’re experiencing at any given moment.4
And how great is that! Your body has hormones specifically designed to reward healthy lifestyle habits! Think of the pickle we’d be in if our body only released the feel-good chemicals whenever we ate junk food and binge-watched Stranger Things! Be thankful for endorphins. They’re your friends.
Beyond feel-good bodily juices, the biggest benefit of exercise is a mindset. Exercise doesn’t just “clear your mind.” (I mean, really–what does that phrase even mean? There’s always chatter in my head!) Exercise–aerobic or resistance training–has potential in the treatment and management of mental health conditions. Researchers have found that physical activity increases neuroplasticity.5
2 Schilling, Deb. “You’re Turning 40–Embracing Both Physical and Emotional Changes at this Milestone Birthday.” 15 February 2015. https://tinyurl.com/yv9zs4um
3 Chekroud, Sammi R., et al. “Association between physical exercise and mental health in 1· 2 million individuals in the USA between 2011 and 2015: a cross-sectional study.” The Lancet Psychiatry 5.9 (2018): 739-746.
4 “Exercise and stress: Get moving to manage stress.” https://tinyurl.com/28xds7dz
This is HUGE.
But what does it mean? Exercise can increase our mind’s ability to change our attitudes, face life more confidently, and live more resiliently. It’s for this very reason that people would often tell me when I was a personal trainer that they appreciated the mindset benefits of exercise even more than the physical benefits of weight loss, and increased and greater muscle definition.
That said, I’m glad to give some direction on exercise if you need it. Choose exercises that are 20’ or less such as brisk walking, riding a bike, dancing, or–one of my favorites–interval training. Need more ideas? Here’s a helpful website with more options.
One of the reasons for a shorter routine is that you are more likely to take a 15’ walk than block off an hour at a gym. If you’re just starting to exercise, it’s better to start small and increase than to make big changes that are unsustainable. Plus, things like gym memberships–which are likely going to need gym clothes (you gotta look good, right?), transportation, and extra time getting there and back–can get complicated quickly. Never mind the sh*tload of guilt you’ll feel for not following through once you’ve paid the premium.
So, put on your sneakers and take a walk around the block even if you don’t feel like working out. You’ll be surprised at how much better you’ll feel physically AND mentally.
Connect with friends and family
When you’re feeling down, it’s easy to isolate yourself. It’s easy to turn inward. You reason that spending more time thinking through your problems is what you need. But it’s not. Not in most cases and certainly not with midlife because midlife is not a wilderness to think your way out of. It’s a place you must learn to thrive in. Your “blah” needs others. You need laughter. You need to spend time with people who love you so that you don’t feel alone. Isolating yourself will only make you feel worse.
But there’s more!
Researchers found that physical touch is very therapeutic. Being physically close to other people has physiological and psychological benefits without any words being spoken. This includes holding hands and hugging. Physical touch has been proven to have health benefits.6
And we shouldn’t be surprised. We as humans took the first steps toward thriving when we learned to live with each other, learned to share laughter and meals and responsibilities. So, reach out to your friends and family members and schedule some quality time together at a coffee house, a park, etc…Laughing and talking with people who care about you will help you see the world in a brighter light.
5 Smith, Patrick J., and Rhonda M. Merwin. “The role of exercise in management of mental health disorders: an integrative review.” Annual review of medicine 72 (2021): 45.
6 Holt-Lunstad J, et al. “Influence of a ‘warm touch’ support enhancement intervention among married couples on ambulatory blood pressure, oxytocin, alpha amylase, and cortisol.” Psychosomatic Medicine 70:976Y85, 2008.
But one quick thought before I move on to #3. Reconnecting with people post-COVID will take some getting used to. At least for some of us. That person who sneezed in Target? I spun around so quickly that I embarrassed myself! I was triggered by all those visuals of how a sneeze spreads water droplets faster than light on cockroaches. So, be safe because COVID’s still a thing–dammit!–but give yourself a little compassion as you re-emerge and re-immerse yourself into post-pandemic society. It may take you some time. That’s okay.
Find a Hobby
Yes, there are some pretty awful memes on midlife and hobbies, but I’m calling BS! A hobby is anything done purely for fun. That’s it. Remember how much you loved a good book growing up? It can be a hobby. Or maybe collecting those “Precious Moments” figurines back in the 80s?
Not my cup of tea but a hobby nevertheless. Do you like taking pictures? Hobby!
A “hobby” literally means something done for pleasure. Look it up. It’s from Middle English. But we can’t stop with just this semantic Band-Aid because a hobby must be something fun for YOU–not fun according to other people you admire and their definitions of fun. Fun just for you. As such, it CANNOT be something done out of obligation, responsibility, or duty. You’ve got plenty of those already! Ask yourself: What would be fun? What would you do if you had nothing else for the day and money wasn’t an issue? Does a cooking class sound fun? A dance class. What about starting a vinyl record collection of all that great music from the 60s, 70s, and 80s? (I suddenly have the urge to strike a pose and move to Madonna’s Vogue.).
If these all sound like terrible options, that’s okay! Keep going! Keep imagining! It’s the only thing holding you back. If you need some help, here’s a list from Burlap and Blue of over 1,000 hobbies to consider. Find something you look forward to doing because that may be exactly what you need when you’re feeling low.
Volunteering is a great way to rediscover the very zest of life. Think about the people and organizations who have impacted you. Think about that crossing guard who always made sure you got to your elementary school safely with a smile and maybe a joke of the day. Maybe you were going through a really difficult financial season and found groceries at the local food bank. Or maybe you overcame low reading scores with help from the kind grownup who visited every Tuesday to read with you. All these people were volunteers. They all gave of their time, resources, and hearts. What greater compliment can you give them than choosing to provide for others what they provided for you?
Wanna know something else?
There’s an added benefit to volunteering, but I want to introduce it by way of a word picture. Have you ever stood on a beach and simply looked out at the horizon? It’s so big! Depending on the time of day, the ocean’s horizon and the sky blend into an ever-expanding distance, leaving you with a sense of smallness that’s oddly comforting, soothing, and therapeutic. When we help others, something similar to standing on a beach gazing out at the blue of the horizon happens.
Our problems grow smaller. It doesn’t mean that our problems go away completely–though sometimes they do–or that our problems are insignificant–they do matter. It just means that we see ourselves and our problems as part of a greater whole. That perspective can be a healthy antidote to feeling purposeless. Volunteering has the ability to extend our sense of purpose and allow us to feel good about ourselves and the impact we’re having on those around us.
Another great thing? There are tons of different ways to volunteer, so find an opportunity that interests you and jump in!
Get a life coach
If you’ve tried everything on this list and nothing seems to reignite your passion for life, it might be time to seek professional help from a life coach. I’m not saying this simply because I’m a life coach and obviously biased toward life coaching. I’m saying this because it’s what I did. And here’s why.
I was already moving. Well–until I got Lyme disease, which sapped every niblet of energy I had. But that’s a different story for a different post. The point is I already knew from experience the value of exercise. I was also connected to friends and family. I had hobbies from years of moving all over the globe. And volunteering? Come on–I’m a mom. I’ve been volunteering since God was a child.
I needed something different.
Before I could figure it all out my health spiraled out of control. You see, we moved across the states due to my husband’s job, which meant I had to let go of MY dream job… I stuffed down the resentment so deep that it came out sideways in the form of a chronic illness. Lyme disease was both a mental catalyst and a physical ailment. The constant state of being physically sapped made me realize how emotionally sapped I had become. I realized that I was in a rut in a bad way because I could no longer escape the fact that I had stuffed my life so full of activities while taking care of my family, which left no time for self-introspection. But I couldn’t distract myself from my own spiritual poverty. I had lost my spark. I saw clearly that I no longer felt unstoppable and free.
Underneath it all, I was angry. I was angry at life! Why is this happening to me? I’m the healthiest person I know who is now sick! I lost faith. I didn’t know how to find myself, to find peace within, to love myself unconditionally with this debilitating illness that was stealing the joy right out from under my feet. Lyme disease was the price I paid for ignoring the signals my body was trying to send me all these years. You know – superwoman syndrome…power through, come through for your family and those around you.
It was hard to speak my truth.
Lyme disease was my rock bottom in one sense; it was ground zero for reinventing Laura Enzor in another. It forced me to prioritize myself and my needs–emotionally, physically, spiritually, and career-wise–because living a life of prioritizing everyone else is not sustainable. Not for me. Not for you. Not for anyone.
A life coach can walk you through the journey of rediscovering the “you” that’s always been there but has gotten buried beneath responsibilities, self-doubt, and pleasing others. Reinvention coaching takes it to another level, allowing you to break free from old disempowering habits, actions, and patterns while understanding the inner workings of “you” as you’re developing a kinder, wiser perspective about yourself and your life.
Talk about finally feeling comfortable in your own skin!!
During my own difficult season, I found Breakthrough Shadow Coaching which opened my eyes up to the inner stress I was carrying with me throughout my adult life. Completely re-energized I became a Breakthrough Shadow coach to pay forward the gift of transformation. Getting hooked on the power of transformation I took it a step further when I found Nancy Levin and her Transformation Equation, which you’ll also hear about in another post at another time. Her Reinvention Coaching taught me how to put myself first and give voice to my own needs with confidence and clarity instead of apologies and guilt. This new life was a new perspective for a new me. I suddenly saw myself in so many other women that I decided to become a Levin Life Coach.
And I’ve done it. I help women
– Work through things that make them feel stuck and frustrated
– Figure out what’s not working in their daily lives and replace it with habits and thoughts that work for them
– Get control of their minds and access their hearts so that they can face daily challenges with increased resilience
– Fill their toolbox with strategies and tools they can count on to resolve inevitable roadblocks
– Discover a new, big-picture vision for their future
– Move forward in their lives with vibrancy.
All this to say, as much as Lyme disease was a terrible experience that I’d wish on no one, it was the catalyst for change I used to create a new Laura Enzor, take back my vibrancy and repurpose my power in midlife.
You can, too! Regardless of the obstacle. Regardless of the difficulty. Regardless of the pain. Your best life is yours for the taking.
So, what are you waiting for? Start taking steps today to take back your vibrancy!!
Connect with Laura Enzor:
Grab my free worksheet to get you started on finding your reinvention rhythm- https://www.lauraenzor.com/your-reinvention-rhythm-sign-up
Laura Enzor helps women repurpose their power in midlife with Reinvention Coaching. Afformotion is a mind, body, and spirit workshop to help women connect, deepen, imprint, and manifest their highest positive vibrations. This workshop is a wonderful addition to any women-centered retreat.