We’ve all had those moments. You’re leading a meeting, brimming with confidence, when a seemingly minor comment triggers a sudden emotional surge. Maybe it’s frustration, maybe it’s a tearful vulnerability. In the blink of an eye, the poised professional you project to the world seems to vanish, replaced by someone unrecognizable. In the midst of these emotional tides, often fueled by hormonal shifts (Read more about the connection between cortisol and menopause in my other blog post) of midlife, navigating the professional landscape can feel like charting a course through uncharted waters.
Take a deep breath. You’re not alone, and the good news is, you can learn to traverse these moments in a way that you feel good about. Here are some practical strategies to help you navigate your feelings in the workplace during midlife:
Acknowledge and Validate
Resist the urge to judge or suppress your feelings. Instead, acknowledge them as valid responses. Labeling your feelings – “I’m feeling overwhelmed” or “This frustration is a lot right now” – can be the first step in regaining control. This self-compassion acts as a grounding anchor, allowing you to move forward with awareness and acceptance.
When cortisol, the stress hormone, starts to spike, sending your emotions on a rollercoaster, step away for a beat. Deep breathing exercises, even just a few minutes of mindful awareness, can significantly impact cortisol levels, bringing you back to center. Consider incorporating short meditation breaks into your work routine, or taking a quick walk around the building to reset your emotional barometer.
It’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity. Adequate sleep, a nutritious diet, and regular exercise are essential for regulating hormones and promoting well-being. Make time for activities that replenish your energy and nourish your soul, whether it’s an evening yoga session, a nourishing green smoothie, or a walk in nature. Remember, a healthy you is a resilient you. I personally find comfort in breakfast food, it was dependable that on the weekends growing up we would have a warm breakfast. As an adult, I like these pancakes for a balanced option that leaves me full, satisfied and comforted.
Additionally, a 2023 study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found a significant reduction in anxiety symptoms among participants who increased their omega-3 intake. While breakfast may not be your first thought when managing midlife emotions, starting your day with a balanced meal rich in complex carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats can help stabilize blood sugar and improve mood. My Overnight Chia Pudding recipe features, not surprisingly, chia seeds packed with Omega-3s – a delicious and nutritious way to fuel your emotional resilience.
Communicate and Delegate
You are not superhuman. Open communication with colleagues and supervisors is key. Be upfront about needing some flexibility. Delegate tasks as needed, at the end of the day, supervisors care if the job got done, not whether you did it or delegated it. Sharing your needs is not a sign of weakness, it's a sign of self-awareness and a commitment to the end product, whatever that may be in your line of work.
We all need a safe harbor. Build a network of friends, colleagues or mentors who understand the challenges of midlife. Sharing your experiences and seeking guidance can lessen the sense of isolation and provide valuable insights. Remember, you don’t have to navigate this storm alone. A not-so-surprising-study found positive outcomes as a result of female relationships.
Embrace the Journey
Navigating midlife emotions in the workplace isn’t about eliminating the waves, it’s about learning to ride them. By employing these strategies, you can transform this internal journey into an opportunity for deeper self-understanding and emotional empowerment. Remember, it does get better, and you know, you have some new tools to consider.