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The Gift of Joy: Losing and finding Joy again in midlife

Sarah Stannard is a certified and trusted health and wellness coach in the UK. In this article Sarah discusses how women can find 'joy' whilst navigating the complexities of midlife ...

The Oxford English Dictionary defines joy as "a feeling of great happiness." This simple yet profound concept becomes a pivotal question in my conversations with new clients: "Where in your life do you find your joy?" This exploration serves as the gateway to a journey of self-discovery, particularly for women in their mid-40s or early 50s, where joy can sometimes seem elusive.

 Picture this: women of this age group, often juggling an intricate dance with numerous plates in the air. The stresses of a demanding career, the responsibilities of managing a family, the challenges of menopause, and the caregiving for elderly parents create a delicate balancing act. Topped with the current cost of living crisis, the horizon may appear more bleak than joyful for many.

 Amidst the chaos of daily life, finding time for oneself can be a luxury. It's not uncommon for women to feel worn down, pulled in all directions, and yearning for a personal sanctuary. Guilt can rear its head on days when responsibilities seem overwhelming, perpetuating the cycle of self-critique that many women are familiar with.

What does joy mean to you? Is it the fulfilment derived from a career, the warmth of family, or perhaps something more elusive? With time constraints dictating our schedules, the pursuit of joy often takes a back seat. The sporadic indulgence in a face mask or an uninterrupted bath becomes a rarity.

 As women, we must actively seek joy in the world around us. In my work with clients, I explore the unique elements that bring them happiness and fulfilment. Whether it's a daily walk or a more ambitious pursuit, such as learning to fly a plane, identifying and incorporating these sources of joy is a transformative process.

Drawing from my studies, including an online course with Yale University on "The Science of Well-being," it's fascinating to note that true happiness is often found in helping others or giving back. It transcends material possessions like the newest phone or the biggest house, highlighting the importance of connections and purpose in our lives.

Exercise for me is also a powerful tool in boosting serotonin levels, promoting overall well-being, and mitigating the challenges of menopause. A healthy diet, rich in natural, whole foods, plays a pivotal role in supporting gut health, which, in turn, influences serotonin levels. Prioritising sleep, one of my pillars of health ensures that we are equipped to face life's daily stressors, while also reducing cortisol levels, the stress hormone.

Cultivating joy is essential, especially in the face of life's complexities. By understanding the diverse facets of happiness and adopting strategies that align with our individual needs, we can navigate the challenges of midlife with purpose and resilience. Here's to a life enriched with joy, purpose, and well-being.