If you are a working professional in your 30s, 40s, or 50s, it is likely you have or will experience a personal crisis of some kind. I know I did. I experienced career crises in my late 30s and early 40s. I experienced relationship crises in my late 40s and early 50s. And I experienced health crises in my 50s. I never would have expected adult life to be so challenging. But I’m glad it was. I’ll explain later.
First, let’s look at the usual types of crises professional adults face.
What Kinds of Crises Do We Face?
Though crises can come in all shapes and sizes, most professionals will deal with a health crisis, career crisis, relationship crisis, or a mid-life crisis. Each comes with its own unique problems and struggles, and thus its own unique solutions.
Though unpleasant to think about, sometimes our health can drastically change. If you or a loved one gets diagnosed with a life-threatening or chronic disease, it can have a huge impact on you. Navigating the life changes that a health crisis can force upon you is a difficult journey.
Though the economy will always have its ups and downs, it’s hard not to feel like we’re in a unique situation right now. While the job market is tight, inflation is high, as are interest rates. The concern of potential downsizing and job loss is often overhead. Perhaps your job has changed in a way that makes things harder on you. Even if your current job is making you unhappy or unfulfilled, it can still be difficult to pull the trigger and work on finding something new. Searching for a new job can be tough, and sometimes even scary.
A divorce or a bad breakup can have a huge effect on the other parts of your life. If kids are involved, then the situation only becomes more complicated.
Though often stigmatized, mid-life crises are receiving more research and as a result, becoming better understood. Both job and life satisfaction tend to plummet in midlife, meaning these crises are quite common. This drop happens in more than 50 countries and across the socioeconomic ladder.
Satisfaction in life looks something like a u-shaped curve. Young people tend to be overoptimistic about their lives, and often become disappointed when midlife isn’t what they expect. Then, older people tend to hold less tightly to regret, and their satisfaction rises again. The drop in the middle of the u-shaped curve is what causes a mid-life crisis.
Next, let’s look at what statistics are the most common types of crises and why your odds of facing one are high.
We live in one of the most stressful times in history, and the link between stress and chronic illness is well-documented.
- 40% of Americans are currently suffering from a chronic illness.
- 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women are likely to develop cancer
- 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women are likely to develop heart disease
The business and economic environment is very shaky these days as well. We are experiencing one of the most uncertain financial times in history.
- Historically, 65.5% of businesses fail in the first 10 years. This doesn’t include statistics from the recent pandemic.
- 72 million Americans people lose or leave their job every year
- 40% of Americans are fired from a job in their lifetime
- All of the current economic indicators are predicting that we will soon move into a recession. And with a unique set of circumstances causing this recession, it is unknown how long it will last.
With high stress at work, uncertain financial times, and the challenges of facing families today, it’s no wonder that relationships are strained.
- Almost 50% of all marriages end in divorce or separation.
- There were 787,000 divorces granted in the US in 2017.
- The average length of a marriage in the US is 8.2 years.
Any professional can experience a life crisis. A health crisis, career crisis, relationship crisis, or even a mid-life crisis can happen to anyone, and can come with some severe effects. Workplace stress can also exacerbate and sometimes even cause these crises, which is something most professionals will deal with.
How Professional Stress Impacts Crises
Almost everyone is stressed out due to their work, and studies have shown exactly that.
In North America, among workers:
- 62% report high levels of stress
- 33% report constant but manageable stress levels
- 5% report low stress levels
The causes of stress have also been studied:
- 41% cite workload
- 32% cite people issues
- 18% cite juggling work and personal life
- 9% cite a lack of job security
Taken together, we can see that work is having a huge effect on the stress in people’s lives. Stress has a serious impact on our health and should be taken seriously.
The Effects of Stress on Your Body
Stress can impact nearly every system in your body and exacerbate existing health conditions. Here are just a handful of ways that stress can negatively affect your health.
- Acute stress can increase the heart rate and cause stronger heart contractions, as well as dilate the blood vessels to the heart and large muscles, increasing blood volume and pressure in those areas
- Chronic stress can increase the risk for hypertension, heart attack, and stroke
- Stress can lead to inflammation in the circulatory system, especially in the coronary arteries
- Stress can exacerbate breathing problems, such as asthma or COPD
- Muscle tension from chronic stress can lead to tension and migraine headaches
- Chronic stress can impair the body’s immune system, possibly leading to chronic fatigue, metabolic disorders (diabetes, obesity), depression, and immune disorders
- Stress can affect the gastrointestinal system, possibly leading to heartburn, acid reflux, pain, bloating, and general discomfort
- Stress can impact reproductive systems
Although it can feel like a crisis is inevitable, there are ways to prepare for crises and proven methods to overcome them.
What Can Be Done About Life Crises?
There are two important things you can do to prepare for a crisis or overcome one you are facing. The first is to understand what makes a situation a crisis for an individual. The second is to understand the steps that can be taken to overcome and manage a crisis.
Have you ever wondered why some people can go through a major life crisis like facing a life-threatening disease, going through corporate downsizing and losing their job, or going through a nasty divorce, and seem to come out stronger, happier, and healthier? Well, whether they consciously knew it or not, they developed five basic skills to not only overcome their crisis, but also make it a turning point for a better life.
If you are interested in learning what makes a situation a crisis for someone, then read this article.
If you are interested in learning about the five skills needed to overcome a crisis, then read this article.
Warning and Disclaimer: If you are experiencing severe anxiety, depression, or have thoughts of hurting yourself for others, please contact a mental health professional in your area. The contents of this and other articles on this site are meant for educational purposes only. The information is based on the author’s personal experience and any associated article references.
While it can be overwhelming to deal with the stress of professional life and a life crisis, there are still options out there. Most importantly, it’s important to ask for help, whether it’s from friends and family, your coworkers, or a professional.
Think about what’s right for you. If you think it’s best to keep your crises private and not tell your coworkers, then do that. If, for example, you have a close relationship with your boss, it might be best to tell them what’s going on in your life. Consider what impacts this will have on you.
And, again, seek professional help if that’s what you need. There’s no shame in asking for help, and professionals are trained to best help you and serve your needs.