Focus on mental, physical well-being

Q: I am an unhappy 52-year-old housewife. Our kids have grown up, left home and started their own wonderful families. I am free, for the first time in my life and I should be relishing it. Instead I am totally dissatisfied, and often crabby to my husband. I doubt that menopause is my problem. My physician is helping me work through those issues. But if what I am experiencing is not menopause, what is it?

A: Studies tell us that many women struggle with dissatisfaction during mid-life. That is what is likely behind the high number of divorces, increased suicide rates and issues with alcohol and other substance abuse for women in mid-life.

The problem appears to be that many women, after having spent years raising children or tending to the needs of their aging parents, do not do a good job of looking after themselves.

Here are some simple questions for you. Do you get enough sleep at night? Research indicates that mid-life women need between seven and eight hours of sleep.

Some are chronically tired, and tired people seldom lead productive and rewarding lives.

Do you have an exercise program? Most know the value of fresh air and exercise, yet the numbers who engage in invigorating walks, bike rides or a few rounds walking the golf course are few.

The sad truth is that we live in a culture glorifying exercise for younger women but not promoting similar activities for those who are in mid-life.

Are you obsessed with your body image?

Research indicates women isolate themselves in their homes for fear of humiliation. There is more beauty to you than what might be found in those lingerie commercials glorifying adolescent figures.

Are you challenging your intellectual abilities? Some mid-life women take classes at community colleges, others get involved in charity organizations and still others plunge into vocational aspirations. You need something outside the home to keep you thinking.

Mid-life women are always in danger of falling into an existential crisis.

Without their families to keep them involved, they are uncertain what value they have.

If they and you engage in more self-care, you will find your own purpose and meaning in daily living.

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