Your Personal Well-being Reservoir

Your Personal Well-being Reservoir

Building Blocks for Navigating Midlife Depression Part II:

Evaluate Your Personal Well-being Reservoir

How do we build resilience for the inevitable ups and downs of midlife? This can be a highly active time of life – sometimes the most active as we strive for career and financial success, care for others, work long hours, and plan for retirement. We often hear about people being ‘sandwiched’ between the care of children, their parents, and other family members. An important question to ask is, “so what has to give, in order to keep going?”

Even though the concept of ‘self care’ is used a lot to characterize what we have to do to survive this time of life, further, more in-depth consideration is needed. How do we know what we need and why we need to do it? Since everyone is different in terms of their personal life histories, available supports and resources, openness to ask for help, current life stressors and demands, one way of managing self-care and well-being is not the answer for everyone.

In fact, each day of the week can bring different challenges and stressors. For many of us, the traditional Monday to Friday 9-5 work days are being replaced with longer work weeks, longer hours, and non-routine schedules. With multiple work schedules, time to dine together is replaced with faster options. Add to this equation, the demands of keeping up with technology, information, trends, and cultural shifts, it is no wonder that we often feel like we are on overdrive, ready to burst.

North American cultural values contribute as well. Our highly individualized societies and isolated neighbourhoods can foster a sense of disconnect, loneliness, and depression. The fast pace of life married with relational and environmental disconnections adds to the strain and stress of everyday existence.

If this sounds like your life at the moment, have hope;  stop, pause, and reflect. It could mean, it is time for you to take an inventory of your life. Weigh the areas of life that are going well or relatively well, those that could use some work, and those that are non-existent (e.g., time for self-care and those activities you used to enjoy or dream about).

Taking time out of a hectic schedule to evaluate is an essential task in getting life on a new, healthier, and more manageable course.

In my interviews with midlife women and men, they discussed many aspects of their lives that both boosted and depleted their well-being. When life became too depleted, depression was difficult, sometimes impossible to manage. However, with sufficient boosting elements, not only did depression become easier to manage, but, importantly, quality of life improved too.

Check out the tool below to help you assess what is depleting your well-being and resilience for managing daily living and ideas that might help you boost how you navigate your way back to wellness:

Creating a well-being checklist for yourself can help identify those areas of life that are impacting your health, happiness, quality of life, and well-being. Some key areas to think about include relationships, dealing with past issues, available supports and resources, and level of self-awareness. Being self-aware is key. This includes awareness about your strengths and resourcefulness, how you handle stress, your problem-solving style, and how you learn and navigate change. For example, some people are reflective in their approach to problem-solving while others are more action-oriented. Combining these can often be a helpful way to first think about the problem at hand, then to consider potential solutions and alternatives, supports/resources that are available, and those that need to be acquired.

During midlife, it is not unusual to have regrets about the past such as decisions that did not go as hoped, missed opportunities, relational breaks, adversity during childhood and adolescence, and traumatic experiences. These can play a significant role in midlife well-being in the absence of supportive approaches to moving forward. Therapy, groups, and other self-help resources can help the process. Looking ahead toward goals, dreams, aspirations, and the meaning and purpose you connect with your interests and preferred lifestyle can help boost your reservoir toward wellness.

© Debbie Grove, Ph.D., 2011

 

About the Author

Dr. Debbie Grove

Based in the Edmonton, AB area, I provide therapy, coaching, and consultation to individuals, couples, families, and organizations.

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