Mid-life crisis? 5 tips to help get your life back on track

Blind woman on her phone

Linda Sage recovered from a mid-life burnout and now advises others on the tricky art of ‘self-care’.

By Steve Smethurst

People in their 40s, 50s and 60s face certain pressures when it comes to things like their finances, careers, home life and health. Linda Sage knows this only too well. Now a speaker, trainer, mentor and author, she's rebuilt her life after burning out in her late 40s. 

Having carved out a career as a successful criminal psychologist and worked in many UK prisons', she suffered such a severe burnout in 2005 at the age of 49, that it took her six years to recover. Since then, she's been working with healthcare professionals and home-based carers to help them avoid the same fate. 

She says: “Self-care is something all care-givers know about, but they don't apply it to themselves. It took me 11 years, six months and 17 days to walk into a prison again.” 

She now helps others to avoid a ‘mid-life crisis’. She says: “Changes don’t have to be big — small steps can have huge long-term effects. Just keep learning and see what a difference it makes. Don’t forget that some people are old at 20, while others are young at 80, it comes down to mindset and choices.”

Here are Linda’s five tips:

1. Don’t get stuck in a rut professionally

Too many people can do their jobs standing on their heads. Keep learning — upgrade your skills and look at the position you really want. Work out what skills, knowledge and experience you need for it. Then go for it.

Read the stories of people who transformed their careers aged 45 and over.

2. Get your finances under control

The ‘drowning in debt’ feeling is horrible, but drawing a line under where you are and planning your finances from there is essential. It's not just going to go away — asking for professional advice is wise, not weak. 

There are a number of ways for dealing with debt and you can speak to organisations such as the Money Advice Service and StepChange debt charity, who can offer further guidance and help on getting in control of your money. Ultimately, there are only two ways out of financial bad habits: spending less or more income.

3. Consider starting pension planning early

Pension information always seems like it's too early to think about, when in fact it's important from the start. Wherever you are in your working life, it's a good idea to start thinking about your future — the sort of lifestyle you'll want and what you can do to get there.' If you haven’t already, speak to an independent financial adviser for more information about your options.

4. Don't forget about number one

When you're busy — looking after this, taking care of that - you might not even realise the strain you're under, or have time to do anything about it. Burnout doesn't happen overnight, there are symptoms to look for such as changes in your moods, or sleeping patterns and eating choices, isolation from friends, family and colleagues, and prolonged pessimistic/negative thoughts. 

It's preventable, but you can’t keep saying, “I’m OK, I’m fine,” when you're not. If you're struggling, it's important that you speak to your GP — they'll be able to offer support on what you can do to help. 

5. Find new interests

When the children are at home, many people see their purpose as a parent, caregiver, protector, and lose their identity, so when the children leave, so can their sense of purpose. Often, relationships have to be built and time spent on things that weren't a priority before. New interests, new friends and new opportunities should be made the most of.

For free resources and more information on self-care, visit www.lindasage.com.

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