Studies show that starting new activities in midlife is pretty common. Maybe it’s part of a midlife awakening or perhaps a midlife crisis symptom. That might just depend on the activities you choose. But keep reading to find out why shaking off the old and welcoming in the new may be key to midlife wellbeing.
First, a little about me…I hate the cold and I particularly loathe cold water. I won’t even drink it cold…and I live in Spain. So this month I decided to go for my first cold sea dip…in January. It might be Spain folks, but trust me, after the weather this week there is no way the Med is anything above unpleasantly freezing.
Why I’m Trying New Hobbies in Midlife
Could I not just jump in the bath rather than the sea? That is a very good question. I keep asking myself the same thing. Stay home I tell myself, watch Netflix instead. Try Wim Hof breathing from the comfort of your cosy living room if you must, but DO NOT GET IN THE WATER.
But here is why I will. I am 46 and the bottom has just, rather painfully, dropped out of my World. There are two potential reactions to that I think – sit home eating chocolate and lamenting the state of your life (tic –I’ve done plenty of this). Or take a deep breath, grab your mates, and do the activity equivalent of electroshock treatment. Shake your life up a bit, try some new activities in midlife and see what happens.
So this year – I am doing 1 new thing a month. I’ve started with my least favourite, which was my childhood approach to eating dinner – get the dodgy-looking green stuff out of the way first. And will then be filling the year with everything from oriental dancing and surfing to abstract art and a spot of clairvoyance.
Why Midlife is the Perfect Time to Try New Activities
Do you need to have had a midlife crisis to bother donning your bathing suit and hitting the mid-winter waves? No – research suggests that midlife is a brilliant time to mix things up as life may have slowly drifted towards the wrong side of routine (1). When you’ve watched so much Netflix that new programme options are running low, it may be time to get off the couch once in a while.
Listen – I love a good boxset binge as much as the next person but folks, we’re in our midlife – ‘Mid’. We potentially only have as much time left as has passed already – maybe even a little less if you really do the maths. But that makes my point all the more valid. Do you want your second act to basically just involve day-to-day grind and the TV remote control?
Alleviating Midlife Boredom
Apparently, researchers have found that by 54 (on the nose apparently!) we struggle to motivate ourselves to try new things. Our adventurous spirit hangs up its hiking boots and we’re content with a gentler pace of life. Mmmm, ok, say that’s true (which I don’t believe it needs to be), that just means I need to get on that white water rafting trip in the next 8 years. But also – it doesn’t mean we need to stop trying new things. ‘New’ doesn’t need to mean extreme – maybe your new activity in midlife is more painting and pottery than bungy jumping and trapeze. Nothing wrong with that!
But I believe it’s hugely important that mundane isn’t mistaken for ‘content’ and that our comfort zone doesn’t come calling and then refuse to leave. I am pretty sure that like me, if you counted up the hours you spend watching Netflix and scrolling through your phone during your downtime, you could squeeze in the odd adventure. Not convinced? Then here are 5 researched reasons to try something new in midlife.
5 Reasons to Try New Activities in Midlife
A new activity (which may turn into a hobby) can take your mind off the stresses of your everyday life.The intense concentration as you try to master a dance move, the mindfulness whilst you watch the potting wheel whirl or the laughter whilst you and your mates try the downward facing dog on a SUP board (that’s 3 months of 2023 sorted for me!). That’s time out of your life. It’s mindful, it helps get those endorphins pumping, maybe you get a rush of achievement or a new found confidence in your abilities. Whatever the outcome – it makes you feel alive.
You can meet new people or spend more time with people you already know. Unless you’re craving alone time, doing something inspiring and new is a great opportunity to get your friends along for the ride. Think of the memories you’re making, and the funny stories that will invariably ensue. There is no way me on a surf board is not going to end up in an A and E visit…..but hell, my tribe will have something to laugh about over a couple of cavas afterwards. So I’ll take one for the team.
And who knows who you’ll meet along the way. Some of my closest friends were found in random classes and activities. Either you bond over what you’re doing or you bump into each other making a break for freedom mid-session.
New experiences build confidence. I tried skiing in my 20s. It did not go well. Think Bridget Jones and the chairlift incident and I’ll say no more. I made it down the baby slope in about 3 hours, hung up my skis and vowed never to go again. Fast forward 25 years and I got convinced into ski boots…properly this time, with a lovely instructor called Mario.
Well – turns out that after telling myself I was a terrible skier, I wasn’t so bad after all. In fact, I successfully navigated a few green runs and also the odd blue – with my eyes shut and Mario there to stop me heading into oblivion. But the thrill, the confidence boost….I went back for more a few weeks later!
That feeling when you nail something you never thought you could. When you see yourself improve and watch yourself grow – it’s empowering, right? Learning a new skill, or engaging in something you’ve not done for years, helps boost your confidence and pride in yourself and your abilities. So, new activities in midlife are vital as it’s a time when many women find themselves a little lost. Or so caught up in other people’s lives, they stop nurturing their own needs, passions and abilities. For more on the importance of self care read my blog ‘Beyond Spa Days and Manicures: What Real Self-care Looks Like’.
Learning new skills stimulates the brain. Ladies – this is an important one. Rates of dementia in women outnumber men by 2 to 1 and risk increases after menopause. But studies suggest that taking up hobbies in midlife can help ward off cognitive decline. So if a weekly padel game, knitting circle or language class helps in any way at all then it’s got to be worth it right?
Hobbies may improve your midlife relationship. You’ve been married a few years at this stage. So it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that at some point soon the following is going to happen. You’ll find yourself on the sofa, worryingly early in the evening, watching your other half open-mouth snoring, a bit of dinner down his top and wonder what the heck happened to your relationship. One of the biggest threats to any long-term relationship is boredom and mutual neglect. A great way to keep things interesting is for you both to try new things. What better way to keep the conversation flowing and to find out new things about each other. All the better if some of your new activities or adventures are shared. These moments are all opportunities to have fun together, connect and gather some suitable blackmail material for your next family gathering.
25 New Activities to Try in Midlife
If you need some inspiration for what to try, I am at your service. Everything I will be trying this year is in the graphic below, with lots more options I may well put on my 2024 list!
The Bottom Line
Life is short. We may only get one go at it. Surely being halfway through is THE best reason to not let what’s left pass you by mindlessly. And those very hobbies that keep life interesting may well be a key factor in helping you live longer – double bubble! You are probably going to have to kiss a few hobby frogs before you find your perfect pastime but think of the fun, friends and stories you’ll accrue along the way.
Let me know in the comments which new activities you will be trying and follow me at at motherflushingmidlife at the social links below to find out more about my adventures!
- Greater Good. (n.d.). Here’s how to find meaning in your midlife crisis. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/heres_how_to_find_meaning_in_your_midlife_crisis