47 Is the Age You’re Most Miserable, Studies Say… but WHY & What Can You Do to Fix It?

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A new study claims that 47 is when we’re the most depressed. What’s causing the mid-forties slump?

In your mid-forties? Feeling a little stressed, meh or just absolutely bloody fed up with the overwhelming responsibilities of life? (Ooh, that escalated quickly).

Turns out you’re far from alone with a recent study confirming what you’re feeling, suggesting that 47 is in fact the most “depressing” point in your life.

According to the US study,  happiness declines and bottoms out in your 40s, before slowly rising again in the mid-50s (ok well some good news then) like a ‘U’.

But why? According to psychologist Dr Dougal Sutherland, there’s plenty of reasons as to why, including the “dangerous cycle of comparison” and burnout.

He lists, “Staleness of romantic relationships; supporting kids and caring for ageing parents at the same time; not having enough time to do things that you used to enjoy; your body being that little bit older and not having quite the same energy levels as you did when you were younger, so the temptation to drift off to sleep in front of the TV every evening is quite tempting yet at the same time not very fulfilling (possibly some personal experience creeping in there!); and coming to the realisation that you’re not going to be a millionaire by the time you’re 50 and having to readjust your life expectations accordingly.”

Jeeeeeeesus. Essentially, we’re struggling with both the weight of expectation and responsibility of life, but also “coming to terms with who we actually are,” Dr Dougal explains.

“I think your 40s can be a decade of coming to terms with who you are and where you’re heading in life. You have a bit of life experience now, probably a little more money than you used to, and thoughts are turning towards ‘what is the future holding for me’?.”

Kiwi comedian and 47-year-old Jaquie Brown, knows how both external and physical pressures can take their toll, especially for women in their 40s who can lose their sense of self during a decade when it seems you’re looking after everyone else but yourself.

“For women, and I am not speaking for all women, but I think hormones can play a massive part. But [it’s] also job pressures, financial pressures and coming to terms with what you thought your life would look like vs what it actually looks like.

“[Plus] accepting that I will never have sex with Pedro Pascal has been huge for me… [but there are also other challenges like] worrying unnecessarily about “getting older” when ageing is a privilege.”

So, what can you do about it?

First things first – put the focus back on YOU. If you’ve got some $ and are keen on the whole ‘Eat Pray Love’ vibe, check out Tourism Fiji’s new ’40-Something Getaway’ to  where you can reclaim your calm, explore the world, refresh your relationships, rediscover your adventurous side, or just take some time out to relax.

But if a trip to the islands isn’t on the cards right now, there are plenty of other ways to re-evaluate what’s important:

“Rest. Honestly, take a nap. Turn off all notifications. Mute or unfollow anyone that makes you feel less than amazing. Spend time with people that lift your spirits. Make sure you do something just for you and leave the guilt behind. I often go to the mall for a 20-minute shoulder rub and close my eyes.”

But ultimately, it’s worth remembering that you have to put in a bit of work to be happy sometimes – whether that’s using some time away to re-evaluate your wants and needs, or else seeking therapy and an outside ear to gain perspective. Re-investing in hobbies and passions can also spark renewed joie de vivre, or finding something else that fills your cup.

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