When you’re in your 20s, you have built-in defenses against all the challenges and criticisms that the world can throw at you. Partying too much? You have time. Not making any career progress? There’s still time. Unsure who you want to be? Sneak another look at all that time. Stacks of seconds and mounds of months. You’ll address the tough stuff one day.
Alas, determined to be an inconvenience (and in defiance of social distancing), that day barrels towards you at a steady pace, and soon enough the memento mori of your 30th birthday knocks you flat on your back. What happened to all that time you had? All of a sudden, you’re under suffocating pressure to grow up and start making practical progress, particularly in your career.
The result? Nerve-jangling stress that is on a new level altogether. The first blush of love was rough, but they are also short-lived. This is an existential crisis. Your life stretches out ahead of you — all the roads to success, and all the slides into misery. It’s all you can do not to lose your composure as you pour over pension plans and eye the property ladder.
Have heart, though: this is a fundamental human experience, and you’ll get through it. What’s more, there are steps you can take to relieve stress and ultimately make your 30s less challenging than your 20s were. Here are some core suggestions to relieve stress:
Stop taking unnecessary risks
Acting as though you’re invulnerable is alright when you don’t yet consider yourself an adult, but it loses its appeal when you’re somewhat mature. All those wild things you did in your early 20s start to seem terrifying. What were you thinking?! You become keenly aware of everything that can go wrong. Illness, injury, misfortune in some form or another: it’s enough to induce major stress.
The good news is that you can simply stop taking unnecessary risks. The more risks you take away from your daily life, the less you’ll have to worry about. This means giving up all of the totally-unplanned travel schemes that tend to land you in scrapes. It means taking out an insurance policy to cover the property you rent: tenant insurance from Duuo will do the trick. It means walking away from arguments instead of letting them get heated. It even means making sensible investments in schemes that are all but certain to pay off in over time. Be smart, and be safe!
Forget comparisons with others
Oh, we understand the allure of social media perfectly well: how tempting it is to browse Instagram and catch up on all the excitement of the wider world. But it’s also incredibly dangerous for your self-esteem. It’s in your 30s that you really start to think about on how well you’re doing, and you inevitably look for points of comparison. This will only go poorly because there will always be many people out there making more money and having more fun than you.
Seeing people your age traveling around island resorts stops being entertaining when it starts to make you feel like a failure by comparison. Your life is different from anyone else’s, and your challenges are unique to you, so focus on improving your fortunes and stop thinking about how anyone else is doing. This will take away a lot of your stress.
Embrace a slower pace of life
The desire to get more from life can drive you to accelerate in your 30s, hungry to make up for missed opportunities. This is generally a mistake. Instead, you should concentrate on accepting that things move (and change) quite slowly. Making good decisions takes time. Looking after yourself is a slow process. If you are constantly in a state of urgency, you’ll speed towards the point of burnout.
In short, take a deep breath and accept how things are in your life. As Lifehack notes, you must accept the things you cannot change. The mistakes you’ve made, the goals you’ve reached, the targets you’ve set: there’s no point in obsessing about them at this point. Find a hobby to keep you relaxed without losing your edge. Strategic board games can be complicated and intense, but are hardly stressful and if you’re getting stressed because of a board game, it’s an indication that you’re taking it far too seriously.
Improve your diet and sleep pattern
The older you get, the more you feel the impact of poor diet and sleeping habits. You start finding that you can’t spring joyously out of bed after just three hours of disrupted sleep — and when you don’t get enough sleep, it impacts every other aspect of your life. Your mood worsens, your attitude sours, and you start making terrible decisions that compound the problem.
The solution is simple, though it’s one that many struggle with. You need to start eating healthily and get more sleep. It’s tough to get started, but if you can stick with an improved plan for a week or two then it’ll become a habit and you’ll find it so much easier to keep going.