Get happy! Beat your mid-30s slump and change your life

Written by Paulette Perhach

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You know when people stop listening to new music? Turns out it’s just 33. That seems young for people to be like, “Nope, I’m good,” and head into, on average, 50 more years without seeing new horizons or having new adventures. Just in time for the mid-30s slump.

Evolutionarily, I can see how this would make sense. Your habits have kept you alive this long,  you would have had plenty of kids to take care of, and there’s just not that much value in evolution’s main goal (xeroxing your DNA) in you venturing out and trying new things.

But in the same way that our evolved sweet tooth isn’t doing us any favors, in today’s world, this thirties-onset stagnation isn’t doing us any good, either. The world is changing so rapidly that anyone who wants to kill it in his or her career has to remain flexible, open to new ideas, and feel inspired.

Read more: Want a career break? Don’t overthink it

Depressed millennial eating popcorn in front of the TV

So, how do you keep from just sagging into the recliner and binge watching TV while you wait for a mid life crisis?

Adventure. Are you getting it? Later in life, fewer and fewer people are inviting you to adventure. In grade school you had field trips. In college you had spring break and summer vacation. As an adult, on the scale of small to large adventures, you have to be your own adventure advocate.

Am I having a mid life crisis’?

A mid life crisis is often a period where you’ll feel lacking in direction, motivation and courage – it’s often brought on by an important birthday, or a life-defining event, such as a break-up or getting divorced. What your brain’s trying to do is take stock, which can take some time and patience.

But just because you’re in a rut, it doesn’t mean you’re in a crisis. It just means you need to shake things up and change your routine slightly – nothing major. You can use a ‘down’ period to your advantage – it’s your mind telling you that something’s up, and you’ll be able to fix it if you make a few small changes.

How to build your confidence up

It all starts with you, so if you want to start small, go ahead.

Take yourself off for a massage, or a pilates class. Explore local walking routes. Get a gang of friends together and go on a trip for the day. Have a pedicure. Give your place a complete overhaul and get rid of any junk. Tidy up. Declutter your desk at work. Think long and hard about your job, and start to get an idea of what would make you happy if you’re not really feeling your current office. Call up a family member you haven’t spoken to for a long time.

Basically, do something that you haven’t done in a while – something which shuffles up your routine, and will make you feel good.

Weekly date ideas to keep things interesting

Creativity guru Julia Cameron suggests a weekly artist date with yourself, where you, in some small way, expand your horizons and your experience with it. You don’t have to be an artist. As they say, an artist is just a child who survived. We’re trying to keep you feeling young and limber, not ageing and stiff. How many museums have you not been to? When was the last time you saw the sun rise? When was the last time you tried a food you’ve never tasted?

Girl lying in the sunshine enjoying herself

“The Artist Date need not be overtly ‘artistic’ — think mischief more than mastery,” says Cameron. “Artist dates fire up the imagination. They spark whimsy. They encourage play.”

Related: Flash Pack Mini Adventures in London

Try something new: 10 great ideas for creative dates and weekly challenges

  1. Go to a thrift store you’ve never been to
  2. Go to a grocery store and pick up a fruit or vegetable you’ve never eaten, then Google a recipe
  3. Make a fire
  4. Go to a hardware store
  5. Go somewhere quiet and pleasant and write an email to yourself you’ll get a year later.
  6. Focus on finding inspiration at a one-day class
  7. Leave the house without your phone and have a tech-free day filled with positive thinking
  8. Go somewhere, or to the kind of place you used to go as a child
  9. Go to a bookstore just to peruse and read
  10. Get in the car and drive yo an unknown destination

Girl riding a bike down the street

The benefits of combining exercise and adventure

You just have to exercise. You do. But it can be a little more exciting if you make a monthly trip to do something that is both an adventure and something to get your heart rate up.

One of my favorite feelings is the kind of exhausted I am after a day of hiking or swimming. Your body feels good but so does your mind. Where I live, in Seattle, we have kayaking and hiking in the summer, snowboarding and snowshoeing in the winter.

Read more: An expert guide on how to get fit for adventure travel

Since you have to get your exercise in anyway, you might as well layer on some nature time too and get outdoors. Getting out in nature has been shown to make us more attentive and happier, so you get to double-dip on the benefits. Plus, it’s a great way to hang out with friends.

There’s nothing that makes you feel older than getting stuck in the takeout-couch-binge watch cycle, so shake it up with some medium-sized adventure.

Paddle boarding at Lake Bled

Get outdoors: 10 fun sports and exercises to boost your mood

  1. Surfing
  2. Swimming
  3. Paddle boarding
  4. Kayaking
  5. Volleyball
  6. Hiking
  7. Showshoeing
  8. Bike riding
  9. Horseback riding
  10. Canyoning
Read more: Why paddleboarding is the ultimate workout

How can adventure holidays boost my mood? 

Tim Ferriss says that most people are wrong when they think we want happiness. What we really want is excitement. Excitement means that you have something on the horizon that you can’t wait for. We forget, as adults, that we’re allowed to do whatever we want to do. As soon as I heard of someone going on horse safari in Zimbabwe, I decided one day I would go on horse safari in Zimbabwe. When I saw a friend’s posts about Thailand, I asked him about it and ended up hanging out at the same bar he’d been to.

Horse riding on holiday

To me, there is nothing like adventuring to another country to open your eyes up to the world. I learned to ride horses in Paraguay, rappel in Argentina, and salsa in Colombia. The combination of a new skill and feeling with a new place and languages filled me with a new sense of wonder and inspiration that had me thrilled to plan the next adventure, and not feeling that slump at all.

10 adventures to have around the world

  1. Dive with sharks in South Africa
  2. Go white water rafting in Chile
  3. Snowmobile in Finland
  4. Hike a volcano in Bali
  5. Kayak mangroves in Costa Rica
  6. Trek a rainforest in Malaysia
  7. Ninja fight in Japan
  8. Samba in Brazil
  9. Go canyoning in Scotland
  10. Hike around lakes in Croatia

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