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4 min read

I'm Sad About Turning 50; What Can I Do?

Birthday candles

Younger people don't spend too much time thinking about old age, but as life goes on you may find yourself ruminating on gray hair, decreased energy, and any number of worries about the aging process. For many, fifty can feel like a huge milestone and, for some, a particularly negative one.

However, reaching your fifties doesn't have to feel like the end of your life. In this article, we'll share why the 50-year mark can feel overwhelming, as well as offer some perspectives and tips for rethinking what 50 really means.

Why Hitting the 50-Year Mark Can Feel Overwhelming

Many of us picture fifty from the perspective of ourselves as younger people—even people who were thirty may have seemed ancient in our early twenties. And honestly, if we're looking at decades ago, fifty seemed far more like old age than it does today.

As recently as the 1980s and 1990s, there were changes in delineations between young and old. When most people reached a certain age, they would start dressing differently, adopting a more "mature" feel. Children often picture their parents as a whole other species, and some of that thinking can stick.

Not to mention that, for the most part, the media depicts women as over the hill at 30. Many actresses go from leading romantic roles to being the mother of a family figure at that age, while men continue to be romantic leads, dating women in their 20s well into their 50s.

For people whose self-esteem is even partially linked to youth, the thought of turning 50 can feel like losing something very important. But prolonged sadness at any age doesn't have to be inevitable. Feeling good about becoming older is possible.

Positive Changes That Can Happen After 50

There are a number of stereotypes around aging that are simply untrue. Many of us imagine that as we get older, we become frail, with thinning hair and less tolerance. And yet, you can have vibrant health at any age. Yes, we can start losing muscle mass after 50, but only if we do nothing. It is absolutely possible to build muscle after turning 50; in fact, many people take up weightlifting and become extremely fit in their old age.

Yes, it can be a bit more difficult to learn new things as we age, but it isn't impossible. The brain's neuroplasticity continues; it just works differently. The white matter in our brain is now where the changes take place when we learn. And not only can we continue to learn new things, we can also retain what we already know. Older adults have the advantage of better crystallized intelligence, which is the ability to use old knowledge to figure out new problems.

Also, people tend to worry that happiness will decline as we age. This is untrue. Average happiness levels begin to decrease slightly after 18, reach a low point in the forties, and then actually begin to rise again after fifty.

This is not to say that people over 50 can’t have depression - a medical condition which requires expert care. That can certainly happen at any age. But prolonged sadness about becoming older is not necessarily inevitable.

Strategies You Can Use to Celebrate 50

If you're turning 50 and need a little motivation to enjoy the moment, here are some ideas you can use to lean in to 50, shake the depression, and focus on finally living the rest of your life with a sense of hope and purpose.

Embrace Travel and New Experiences

Many people become “empty-nesters” in their 50s - their children are off to live their own independent lives. This can be a very bittersweet experience. You may certainly miss your children, but you can also consider it to be a new era of freedom of motion. Take this time to travel, party, and start a new hobby!

Lean on Your Friends

Life in your fifties can be a lot of fun, especially when you have friends to enjoy it with. Social connections are so important for maintaining vibrant mental and physical health. If you haven't been focused on making friends, there's no better time to establish a solid friend group. Look for clubs or activities where you can find people with common interests: the gym, book clubs, art classes, community activities or sports, and more.

Learning to Feel Comfortable in Your Own Skin

For women, especially, embracing your body as you age can be difficult due to decades of ingrained social negativity. While there's life, there's hope, and remember that health is for any body and any age. Search online for workouts suited to your level and other articles that share tips for promoting health in your life over fifty.

Join group fitness classes with other men and women to help motivate you to keep coming. The social aspect can be helpful for consistency, as well as offering a sense of community.

Don't dress for your age; dress for your own sense of style. There is no age in fashion anymore, so feel free to express yourself through what you wear.

How a Positive Mindset Can Improve the Aging Process

Recruit family and other loved ones to help you move away from feeling sad about your age, and to keep you moving forward in a more healthy mindset. If you have concerns about your birthday, feel free to share them, but try not to dwell on the negative. If you have children, remember that they observe how you interact with the world, and you want to be a positive example of how to age well in life.

Think more about what you have accomplished, and where you want to go than worrying about what this country feels about the aging process.

Final Thoughts on Turning 50

Older age can be a time of great peace and wisdom in our lives, if only we approach it from the right mindset. When we realize that age is nothing to fear, then we start on the right path toward a time of health and happiness.

Celebrating Life After 50 in Austin, TX

If you're feeling sadness or a lack of motivation around turning 50, realize that a lot of the ideas you have about aging may be wrong. Your birthday can be an introduction to a new and positive stage of health, relationships, and interacting with the world.

At Williamsburg Therapy Group, our team of doctoral-level Austin psychotherapists offers evidence-based therapeutic approaches and techniques that allow you to feel heard, while allaying concerns and shifting a negative overall feeling in a more healthy direction.

Give us a call today, and our patient coordinator will help you find the right therapist to offer emotional support and the tools to help manage feelings of depression, and begin to think of your upcoming birthday as an opportunity for growth and happiness.

Book a Therapy Session in Austin Today

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