Mid-Life Crisis for Women—Running on Oxytocin Fumes?
Do women have a mid-life crisis like men? During my stress management seminars this topic often comes up as the participants strive to understand how what they do on a daily basis reflects their current situation in life. First a distinction should be made. The current work culture was first created by and for men—AND it compliments their physiology. When women are within this work culture, they are up against the very nature of how their bodies work. Let’s look at why women mid-life ask if they’re having a crisis.
Research now shows that women feel fulfilled when they are connecting and nurturing others. When women are giving freely and helping other people out (think random acts of kindness)—the stress-reducing hormone that is produced is oxytocin.
Unfortunately, at work women’s oxytocin production is inhibited, because the competitive nature produces testosterone. This can apply to women raising children at home too if they do not have a good support system to nurture their interests and help out with the child-rearing. It could even double if you’re a mompreneur!
When women do not have enough oxytocin being produced, on top of constant low grade stress it can seem like a crisis. Cortisol, one of the stress-producing hormones, is not supposed to remain in our body overnight. Today most people have chronic low-grade stress, which means we also have excess cortisol in our body. This wears us out and compromises our immune system.
If you’re a woman and have any of the following physical symptoms, then you may be deficient in oxytocin:
- weight gain,
- decreased sexual drive,
- infertility, and
- cardiovascular disease.
If you have any of the above symptoms as a man, then you may be deficient in testosterone.
Juggling a job, trying to keep or find a partner, and/or raise kids can feel like a crisis. Why?
A woman’s body has not had the time to replenish enough oxytocin on a daily basis to keep her energy levels up. Poor nutrition, mineral depletion, and not engaging in 4-5 hours of low-impact daily movement also compromise her health. The resulting physical symptoms of neglecting daily stress-reduction activities negatively affect both our body and our relationships.
Do you consistently nurture yourself or give to others freely without expectation?
Women mid-life may begin to ask themselves:
- Do I pursue my career and somehow find connection within my career–will this make me happy?
- How do I balance raising kids as a single parent and work?
- How do I nurture myself, while also caring for the hubby, kids, pets, friends, family…?
- I challenge you if you feel run down, to reframe your situation.
Instead women should be asking:
How can I connect, and keep my stress levels low–not just for my health, but so I can have the family life too (even if it’s spending time with parents or siblings, this doesn’t have to mean raising your own)?
We Can Achieve Balance & Our Absolute Potential too
Education. Educating ourselves about our physiology and what we need to do to increase our oxytocin is half the battle. The other half is follow-through on doing the daily, weekly, monthly activities that fulfill and balance us. If you feel like you’re in crisis. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a life-changing career shift.
Remember what I wrote a moment ago, when women are connecting and nurturing they are producing their stress-reducing hormone oxytocin. John Gray, Ph.D., talks about how women can produce more oxytocin in his books, Venus on Fire, Mars on Ice – Hormonal Balance – The Key to Life, Love, and Energy, Why Mars and Venus Collide: Improving Relationships by Understanding How Men and Women Cope Differently with Stress, and The Mars & Venus Diet & Exercise Solution.
Men feel fulfilled when they are able to solve problems. When they are solving problems they produce testosterone. So the workplace helps men to produce their stress-reducing hormone, but the off-set is that they also need time to do nothing (when they finish work), because it is in the doing nothing that testosterone is replenished. Not so for women.
Doing nothing for women increases cortisol and does not increase oxytocin.
If you don’t have time to read the books, and want to practice your skills the same time you’re learning them—Mars Venus coaches around the globe also facilitate workshops covering John Gray’s, Ph.D., latest gender intelligence material.
Accountability Partner. Finding someone, like a good friend going through the same struggles or a coach helps you produce oxytocin. They will hold you accountable to taking time to nurture yourself and your interests. A coach ensures that you are effective at time-management by creating tailored 90 day plans that help you prioritize your time and energy for your wellness. You get faster results then the following the same pattern of empty promises with yourself.
As women reach mid-life their quest becomes how they can make an impact on the world with their work. The difference is with men it’s typically self-glorification, for women it’s more community enrichment. Successful women can find the work-life balance that may currently be out of whack. From the mineral and hormone depletion to finding relationships that support her–this is how women can regain balance.